merthyr tydfil


  • [43] Industrial legacy Founded on heavy industry, Merthyr became the ‘Iron Capital of the World’ and Wales largest town the early 19th century.

  • This would later become the Dowlais Iron Company and also the first major works in the area.

  • [78] To complement this, the town holds the Merthyr Rising each year – a three-day celebration of town history through local music, held on the site of the Rising itself in
    Penderyn Square at the junction of Castle Street and High Street.

  • The tramway passed through what is arguably the oldest railway tunnel in the world, part of which can be seen alongside Pentrebach Road at the lower end of the town.

  • However despite Merthyr’s long and varied industrial heritage, with the decline of heavy industry and the closure of long-established nearby collieries and ironworks, Merthyr
    could not offer the employment it had previously.

  • [23] However, this was less of a success until the arrival in 1763 of a “Cumberland ironmaster, Anthony Bacon, who leased an area of eight miles by five for £100 a year on
    which he started the Cyfarthfa Ironworks and also bought the Plymouth Works”.

  • [7][8] The 1851 census found Wales to be the world’s first industrialised nation, as more people were employed in industry than agriculture, with Merthyr the biggest town
    in Wales at that time.

  • The Christian religion was introduced throughout much of Wales by the Romans, but locally it may have been introduced later by monks from Ireland and France, who made their
    way into the region following rivers and valleys.

  • [24] Starting in the late 1740s, land within the Merthyr district was gradually being leased for the smelting of iron to meet the growing demand, with the expansion of smaller
    furnaces dotted around South Wales.

  • Penydarren closed in 1859 and Plymouth in 1880; thereafter some ironworkers migrated to the United States or even Ukraine, where Merthyr engineer John Hughes established an
    ironworks in 1869, creating the new city of Donetsk in the process.

  • [47][48] In 2021 Merthyr Tydfil local authority area had a 27.9% house price increase over the 12 months of the year, the highest of any of the 22 local authority areas in

  • Noted for its industrial past, Merthyr was known as the ‘Iron Capital of the World’ in the early 19th century, due to the scale of its iron production.

  • [51] Further plans report a 50 million renovation planned of the Castle and its surrounding areas, including rescuing the 200-year-old Cyfarthfa furnaces west of the Taff,
    a scheduled ancient monument of world importance, but currently endangered.

  • Post-Second World War[edit] Immediately after the Second World War, several large companies set up in Merthyr.

  • [65] Despite the generally small congregations of Anglican churches, St John’s thrived: it held two services in English each Sunday and also two in Welsh.

  • “Initially 350 people were employed, by the mid 1970s that number had risen to near 5,000; making Hoover the largest employer in the borough”, and therefore strongly filling
    in for the declining coal and iron industries.

  • [21] Early modern Merthyr[edit] No permanent settlement was formed until well into the Middle Ages.

  • [27] He also claims that this was the “first ‘railway’ and the work of George Stephenson was merely an improvement upon it”.

  • Small-scale iron working and coal mining had been carried out at some places in South Wales since the Tudor period, but in the wake of the Industrial Revolution the demand
    for iron led to the rapid expansion of Merthyr’s iron operations.

  • The Welsh Government has recently opened a major office in the town[87] near a large telecommunications call centre (T-Mobile & EE).

  • He became less than popular with the church authorities, however, as a result of his support for disestablishment.

  • [11] Iron production declined in Merthyr from 1860 on, though Merthyr’s population continued to rise due to the emergence of coal mining in the area, peaking with around 81,000
    people in 1911.

  • The station opened in June 2021, replacing a previous one in Castle Street.

  • “[29] Living conditions in the China district[edit] China was the name given to a nineteenth-century slum[30] in the Pont-Storehouse area of Merthyr Tydfil.

  • Roads[edit] Road improvements mean the town is increasingly a commuter location and has shown some of the highest house-price growth in the UK.

  • There were then increasing numbers of unemployed workers in the area, and since the Second World War this has included women too.

  • [9][10] The Ukrainian City of Donetsk, originally ‘Hughesovka’, was founded by John Hughes of Merthyr in 1870, when he took iron working to the area.

  • Hoover (now part of Candy Group) has its registered office in the town and remained a major employer until it transferred production abroad in March 2009, with a loss of 337
    jobs from the closure of its factory.

  • [25] It was the need to export goods from Cyfarthfa that led to the construction of the Glamorganshire Canal running from their works right down the valley to Cardiff Bay,
    stimulating other businesses along the way.

  • [42] There are also calls for a Welsh medium secondary school to be built in Merthyr.

  • It covered an area of about three hectares, and formed part of the network of roads and fortifications; remains were found underneath the Merthyr Town F.C.

  • During this time Morlais Castle was built two miles north of the town.

  • [53] Merthyr Tydfil Town Hall has been given a new lease of life as an arts and creative industries centre.

  • With references to the 1831 Merthyr Rising and red bricks for its frontage, an arts and creative industries centre named Redhouse Cymru was launched in Merthyr Tydfil Town
    Hall on Saint David’s Day 2014.

  • In his article, In search of the Celestial Empire, historian Keith Strange compares China to areas of Liverpool, Nottingham and Derby, and states that this area was just as
    bad if not worse than those “little Sodoms”.

  • [61] Griffith’s move to Merthyr Tydfil saw him take over a much larger and more established parish than Aberdare.

  • In October 1948 the American-owned Hoover Company opened a large washing machine factory and depot in the village of Pentrebach, a few miles south of the town.

  • [67] The original cause at Ynysgau was established by various “dissenters” from the Church of England.

  • The strong growth of employment of women in Merthyr after the Second World War can be seen as a result of the introduction of more light manufacturing and consumer-based business
    – a stark contrast to the heavy industry in the coal and ironworks which had an almost entirely male workforce.

  • [63] “I venture to declare,” wrote one correspondent, “no man in this part of the kingdom could be more popular in his day and generation than the Rev.

  • [13][14] Population: 43,820 (2011 Census)[1]; OS grid reference: SO 0506; Principal area: Merthyr Tydfil; Preserved county: Mid Glamorgan; Country: Wales; Sovereign state:
    United Kingdom; Post town: Merthyr Tydfil; Postcode district: CF47/CF48; Dialling code: 01685; Police: South Wales; Fire: South Wales; Ambulance: Welsh; UK Parliament: Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney; Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament: Merthyr Tydfil
    and Rhymney; 51.743°N 3.378°W History Pre-history[edit] Peoples migrating north from Europe had lived in the area for many thousands of years.

  • [33] The Merthyr Rising[edit] Main article: Merthyr Rising With the Industrial Revolution came a sharp decline in young men working in agriculture, who were attracted by higher
    wages paid in industries such as iron.

  • [84] A new railway station will be built by 2024 as part of the South Wales Metro upgrades to the area.

  • These will reduce journey times between Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff city centre and allow TfW to increase the frequency of services to four every hour.

  • They often shared routes to allow access to coal mines and ironworks through rugged country, which presented great engineering challenges.

  • In July 1883 he stated “I have been for years convinced that nothing but Disestablishment, the separation of the Church from the State, can ever reform the Church in Wales.

  • The fortunes of Merthyr revived temporarily during World War II, as war industry reached the area.

  • [18] Local legends[edit] Local tradition holds that, around 480 CE, a girl called Tydfil, daughter of a local chieftain named Brychan, was an early local convert to Christianity,
    and was murdered by either Welsh or Saxon pagans, and buried in the town.

  • This allowed others to develop Trevithick’s ideas; some claim the modern railway system was born in Merthyr Tydfil.

  • Originally created by leading Welsh architect Sir Percy Thomas in 1911, it is planned to be a hub for economic and social activity.

  • [22] In the 1870s the advent of coal mining to the south of the town gave renewed impetus to the local economy and population growth.

  • With the growing industry in Merthyr, several railway companies established routes linking the works with ports and other parts of Britain.

  • People continued to be self-sufficient, living by farming and later by trading.

  • [79] Tourism The town lies the southern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park and is also well-placed for visitors to the South Wales Valleys.

  • [73] Merthyr Tydfil Housing Association, in partnership with Canolfan Soar, has raised funds to turn the Pontmorlais area into a cultural quarter.

  • Merthyr and the surrounding areas boast the Grade-I listed Cyfarthfa Castle, the world’s fastest seated zip line, the UK’s largest mountain bike park, the largest indoor climbing
    wall in Wales, national cycle routes and plans for the UK’s longest indoor ski slope.

  • The Grade-II listed terracotta building, opening originally in 1896 having taken 35 years to build, has had an 8 million refurbishment finishing in 2014.

  • Throughout May 1831, the coal miners and others who worked for William Crawshay took to the streets of Merthyr Tydfil, calling for reform, and protesting against the lowering
    of their wages and general unemployment.

  • [26] Cefn Coed Viaduct was built to carry the Brecon and Merthyr Railway During the first few decades of the 19th century, the ironworks at Cyfarthfa (and neighbouring Dowlais)
    continued to expand, and at their height were the most productive ironworks in the world: 50,000 tons of rails left just one ironworks in 1844, for the railways across Russia to Siberia.

  • However it took until 1882 to get the works back up and running.

  • In the 1980s the 120-year-old synagogue was sold and became a Christian Centre, then a gym.

  • [49] The area was second highest in Wales from 2018 to 2019.

  • [6] This led to marked economic challenges for the area, particularly in the 20th century.

  • Hoover and other companies targeted Merthyr, and its declining coal and iron industries gave space for new businesses to start up there and grow.

  • A church was eventually built on the traditional site of her burial.

  • It was demolished in 1967 as part of the Merthyr Town Improvement Scheme.

  • Menter Iaith Merthyr Tudful (the Merthyr Tydfil Welsh Language Initiative) has successfully transformed the Zoar Chapel and adjacent vestry building in Pontmorlais into a
    community arts venue, Canolfan Soar and Theatr Soar, which run a programme of performance events and activities in both Welsh and English, together with a cafe and a bookshop specialising in local interest and Welsh language books and CDs.

  • The decline of coal and iron[edit] The abandoned Cyfarthfa Ironworks blast furnaces The population of Merthyr reached 51,949 in 1861, but then went into decline for several

  • In 2006, a Channel 4 series ranked Merthyr Tydfil as the United Kingdom’s third-worst place to live.

  • [55] Open-cast mining In 2006, a large open-cast coal mine to extract 10 million tonnes of coal over 15 years was authorised just east of Merthyr as part of the Ffos-y-fran
    open-cast mine.

  • Government The parish of Merthyr Tydfil was made a local board district in 1850, which became an urban district in 1894.


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The population given as 38,000 is for the parishes
round the town centre: the population of the County Borough at the 2011 census was 58,800 and in 2014 59,500.
Photo credit:’]