A Castle was built at Builth Wells in Norman times by the Marcher Lords. But it was in 1277 that a stone castle was built under King Edward 1. Owain Glyndwr attacked the castle. When it was later repaired in 1409 the cost came to £400. No stone from this castle remains, but the castle mound can be visited and provides great views of Builth Wells the River Wye and the surrounding countryside.
Builth had been built around a ford over the River Wye. In 1779 the current stone bridge was built. This immediately improved communications with the town. Then later in the 1860s the railways arrived at the town – with a station in the town on the Mid Wales railway.
This allowed Builth to develop as a spa town. Certainly by 1740 the existence of mineral springs at Builth
was known of. But it was only in the 1830s that the two wells in the town – Park Wells with saline waters and Glanne Wells with sulphurous waters became well known. Although it was well known as a spa town, Builth Wells as it became was not as popular as Llandrindod Wells a few miles to the north.
Today, as well as a market town, Builth Wells (or more accurately Llanelwedd, just over the bridge from the town centre) is home to the Royal Welsh Show. This is an agricultural show with typically 8000 entries of livestock. It takes place over four days each year.
The show started at Aberystwyth in 1904 and moved to Builth Wells in 1963. When it moved there an audience of 42 427 was recorded. By 2006 this had grown to 227 360.
Around the same time that the Royal Welsh Show moved here, the railway through Builth Wells closed as part of Beeching’s Axe. The nearest railway station is now Builth Road, about two miles out of the town, which is on the Heart of Wales railway line.