Approximately four miles outside the town of Llanelli sits the rural and sleepy village of Five Roads. But its peaceful and tranquil appearance of today belies a very active and turbulent past. Not only did it stand between Cynheidre Colliery, The Eclipse Brickworks, Horeb Mills and the Llanelly & Mynydd Mawr Railway, but further back in time the village became the focal point of some of the most exciting events in Welsh agricultural history - The Rebecca Riots.
During the middle of the 19th century South Wales was rocked by civil disturbances known as ‘The Rebecca Riots’. These riots were predominantly aimed at the destruction of tollgates belonging to the turnpike trusts that charged excessive fees for the use of their roads. The rioters would dress themselves up disguised as women with blackened faces and would be led by the leader who was known as ‘Rebecca’.
Two of the most notorious and despicable leaders of the Rebecca movement were David Davies and John Jones, alias ‘Dai’r Cantwr’ and ‘Shoni Sgubor Fawr’. They and others used the pubs and inns of Five Roads as their frequent meeting places, but perhaps more important of all, their ‘headquarters’ was at The Stag & Pheasant Inn.
Throughout the years The Stag & Pheasant Inn has also been known as The ‘Stack’, The Five Roads Inn and more recently, The Stag. This inn stands at the convergence of five roads that pass through the village, hence its name. From here the rioters planned and led their attacks on various targets. They also planned and plotted the murder of William Chambers Junior, the Llanelli landowner and Justice of The Peace. Chambers had been wrongly identified as having shot a Rebecca rioter at an earlier disturbance. Although they did not murder Chambers they burnt some of his farms and attacked his pottery in Llanelli.
In the September of 1843, Dai’r Cantwr, Shoni Sgubor Fawr and others dressed as ‘Rebecca’, left the Stag & Pheasant Inn and attacked the house of the manager of the Gwendraeth Iron Works at Pontyberem. They also destroyed the toll gate at Spudders Bridge.
Both the above leaders were finally apprehended and convicted for their lawlessness.