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Historical snippets re 'the Rhondda'

A varied collection of  pieces relating to the history of the general area we know as 'the Rhondda', various contributors.

There are many similar items on Not everyone knows this.. 


Ystradyfodwg

I have noted some details which describe the parish of Ystradyfodwg and one of the farmsteads that I am interested in. Printed histories often contain a wealth of material and for those interested in the Rhondda here are some descriptions. I have broken them up into parts.

Descriptions of Llwynypia Farm, Ystradyfodwg, and the parish itself.

(Llwynypia means Llwyn = Grove or Bush and Pia = Magpie hence 'Magpie Grove' referring to the magnificent grove)

When John Leland made his Itinerary through Wales in 1536-39, he noted that,

"The vale of Glin Rodeney by south is meatly good for barle and otes but little whete. There is plenty of wood. It hath but one hole paroch caullid Ystrate and a peace of Lantrissent paroshe, and a pece of Llan Wonni paroche."

A description of Berw Rhondda by J.T. Barber F.S.A will be found in A Tour throughout South Wales and Monmouthshire, published in  1803 . Leaving the old town of Llantrisant, he makes his way to Pontypridd or New Bridge as it was then, his next destination.
This is how he describes his impressions:

"As I proceeded from Llantrissent, cultivation diminished; and from that fertile and populous district, borderung the Severn, I found myself entering upon the unfrequented wilds of the interior country. It soon became so dark, that I could but distinguish the broken road that was traveling which, although a Welsh turnpike, a modern farmer in England would be ashamed to own for his cart way. Not a human face or habitation presented itself, nor any relief from silence except the uncheering note of the screech owl. At length, however, the distant murmur of a waterfall saluted me, which growing louder as I advanced, presently accumulated to a hoarse roar; and by the direction of the sound, it appeared that I was travelling on a precipice above the torrent......"

Jill Muir 1.4.2000 to the Glamorgan mailing list


Ystradyfodwg Part 2

In 1803, the Revd B.H.Malkin of Cowbridge wrote: The Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography of South Wales .

The following extract describes the Rhondda,

"The next object of interest, for such it is, in a proportion equal to that of a palace in a better inhabited country, is a substantial farmhouse, placed in a most pleasing solitude, as beautifully situated as anything in the Parish. Its name, for it is dignified with a name, is Llwyn-y-pia, signifying a Magpie's Bush. It is occupied by Jane Davies *, a widow, but its situation seems little calculated for the feebler exertions of female industry. The women at least divide the severest labour, and seem by their hardy, robust constitution to triumph over the bleakness of their winters and the ruggedness of their toils. On the farm of Llwyn-y-pia there is the tallest and largest oak that ever I have happened to meet with."

(this is also repeated in 1808 Extracts from The Cambrian Travellers' Guide and Pocket Companion) also in Glamorgan Reminiscences by D.T.Alexander 1915,

"Lower down towards Pont Rhondda was the one farmhouse occupied by Mr. Richard Evans, and from there I rode on to Pandy Inn, situated in what is now known as Llwynypia, and the old farmhouse of Llwynypia, occupied by the Bevan family [see also Trealaw item ]. There was on the other side of the river the old residence of Ty'n-y-Cymmer, occupied by the Morgan family."

*[ the  above mentioned, Jane Davies aka Jennet DAVID was a widow at that time and had been the wife of Morgan DAVID of Llwynypia Farm. He was related to the holder William DAVID of Cwmsaerbren farm. Jane had been a PRITCHARD before her marriage.]

Jill Muir 2.4.2000 to the Glamorgan mailing list

Here is another description of the Rhondda by  Dr Malkin in his visit .

"The parish of Ystradyfodwg exhibits such scenes of untouched beauty, as the imagination would find it difficult to surpass....... Those who know the banks of the two Rhonthas and the wilds of Ystradyfodwg have seen such woods and groves as are rarely seen..... The sides of many of the rocks and hills are clothed with an apparently inexhaustible opulence of timber."

Jill Muir 6.4.2000 to the Glamorgan mailing list


Ystradyfodwg continued

Published in 1802 The Historic and Picturesque Guide from Clifton, through the Counties of Monmouth, Glamorgan and Brecknock by George Wm Mamby who toured the area, whilst staying at Pontypridd and he notes of the stream:

"Observing a stream apparently of no inconsiderable consequence, and tributary to the Taff. I was induced to approach it, when I perceived a plain neat structure across the river Rhondda, by two arches, the banks thickly shaded with wood and the distant country enriched with high cultivation; the river appeared to be emerging from a thick wood, and bathing a fisherman's cottage, stationed in the most for it's master's implements, and as it approached the bridge, softened into rippling streams from the ridges of pebbels, perusing a rural road embowered with trees, through occasional openings of which the river would present itself, dashing and roaring over misshapen rocks, fringed with masses of the deepest hue."

Jill Muir 3.4.2000 to the Glamorgan mailing list


The Baptists in Pontypridd

The Baptists were the first to hold regular religious services in the place. [i.e. Pontypridd] About 1808 a young man names ADAM ROWLAND---settled in Pontypridd. At same time 2 other families moved into neighbourhood from Merthyr - those of WILLIAM GRIFFITHS and WM JAMES. Meetings were first held in open air and afterwards rented a room over the brew house of the old 'White Horse' now know as the Old Malsters at the east end of the Old Bridge. Services cont'd there until 'Little Carmel' was built and on Sunday Dec 23rd 1810 they left the old meeting room and held their first service in Carmel. Carmel was the first place erected in Pontypridd. The chapel was built in 1833. The Welsh Baptists cont'd to worship here until 1861 when they left the old temple that must have been dear to many of them, for the Tabernacle, the fine and substantial edifice by the Old Bridge, where they still continue to worship. Other chapels in district belonging to the denomination are: Welsh: Libanus, Treforest, Rhydfelin, Capel Rhondda, Hopkinstown; Bethesda, Hafod, Cifynydd: English - Carmel Calvary [Wood rd] Temple [Llantrisant Rd] Coedpenmaen and Bethany [Pwllgwaun].

Abstracted from Pontypridd Historial Handbook - John Charles 1919, Pontypridd, printed at Glamorgan Times Office. 1920

Jill Muir 17.4.2000 to the Glamorgan mailing list


An industrial landscape

'The River Rhondda is a dark, turgid, and contaminated gutter, into which is poured the refuse of the host of collieries which skirt the thirteen miles of its course. The hills - have been stripped of their woodland beauty, and there they stand, rugged and bare, with immense rubbish heaps covering their surface......The whole length of the valley has become transformed....the din of steam engines, the whirr of machinery, the grating sound of coal screens, and the hammering of the smithies proceed increasingly night and day, year in and year out. An unheard of wealth of industry and a great population have simultaneously sprung up together during the past sixty years........The industrial townships of this valley appear to be inseparably connected in one continuous series of streets of workmens cottages to Pontypridd'.

Arthur Morris. Glamorgan. 1908

Steve Keates 4.5.2000 to the Glamorgan mailing list]


MEMORIES OF TREALAW, RHONDDA

By JILL MUIR, NEE KNIGHT

During the 1930s to 1940s, and many years prior to that, the Post Office, at 50 Miskin Road, was owned and run by my mother's uncle ARTHUR THOMAS. He had married MARY, my Grandpa's sister, and later their only child CYRIL and his family ran the Post Office. Cyril played for the local football team, known locally as the Mushrooms or 'The Mush'. He was a good player and at one time played for Southampton.

In those days being a Postmaster was of higher social significance than perhaps it is today. Uncle Arthur was a man with a very keen mind, and came from a cultured family. Amongst other talents he composed hymns and was Precentor at Ainon Chapel, Trealaw. His two brothers were schoolteachers and his sister sang for the Royal Opera Company.

My mother, FRISWITH JONES had worked for Uncle Arthur behind the Post Office counter for many years, although her mother CASSIE had not wanted her to, preferring an apprenticeship or like, as she had felt she was wasting her grammar school education and had greater things in mind for her daughter. My mother though, soon became very adept at this job, as she was quick and good at figures, and Uncle Arthur was very proud of her, particularly as she could be relied upon to run the Post Office alone and work hard. She was not only very happy with the job she did but with the life she had with her relations at the Post Office, and would, in her later life, often refer to these times, the fun she had enjoyed and some pranks she and my elder cousins used to enjoy.

My mother was paid 1.5s 0d a week, working from 9.00 a.m. to 7.00 in the evening. She had an hour off for lunch, which she had with the family. If she closed again for the family tea, which she wasn't really supposed to do, she would have to go and open up, if anyone knocked the post office door.

My great grand-parents, WILLIAM & FRISWITH JONES and many other relatives had also lived in Miskin Road. The house where my great grandparents had raised their family 112 Miskin Road, [opposite the Post Office], until their move to 110b, where both parents had unfortunately died at young ages, was still occupied by a member of the family, an Auntie GERTY THOMAS, when I was about twelve years old.

A brisk walk from the house where I was born, brings you to that part of Miskin Road where it runs into Brithweunydd Road and here on a bank, stood three houses of substance. These houses were named, 'Maes-Yr-Haf'; 'Clydach Court' [the home of JOHN DAVID WILLIAMS, who was the successor of the Williams family of Ffynondwym] and 'Fairfield' [once the home of EVAN AND GWENLLIAN WILLIAMS, but later of DAVID WATKIN WILLIAMS. It is believed, but not proved, that the Williams family are related to my family of Davies. There certainly was high family involvement.]

In the vicinity of these three houses, at the top of Garth Road, stood 'The Garth' [the home of SIR WALTER NICHOLAS and his wife, LADY FLORENCE NICHOLAS (nee Edwards, formerly of Risca) who also was related to the Davies' family Maesyrhaf, with their daughter Miss NORA NICHOLAS]. 'Clydach Court' has been re-developed, and with 'Fairfield', is now an old people's home, and the house, 'Maesyrhaf' has unfortunately been demolished. 'The Garth' later housed the Department of Health and Social Security, before being demolished for re-development into retirement flats. 'Maesyrhaf', meaning 'Summer Meadow', had been the home of my great-great-grandparents, THOMAS AND ELIZABETH DAVIES, who also owned the 'Dunraven Arms', Tonypandy.

'Maesyrhaf' was a large stone-built Victorian house set in two acres of land standing well back from the main road, with a sloping garden in front and fields climbing the steep hillside behind. There were three living rooms, six bedrooms, and a bathroom, a large kitchen with outhouses and stables.

Further along Brithweunydd Road stood a row of substantial terraced villas. Amongst these was one called 'Bryn Dinas'. Here lived Uncle WILLIAM JONES and his wife JINNIE, known in the family as 'Uncle Willie, Bryn Dinas'. Like a lot of Welsh families, the family was inter-related, and this couple were no exception.

Uncle Willie was William COLLIN JONES. He was the son of THOMAS JONES who had married ELVIRA BEVAN, of Llwynypia Farm[see also item Ystradyfodwg part 2]. THOMAS JONES, had been a Stone Mason, and been an official of the Rhondda District Council.

Uncle Willie's wife Jinnie (Elizabeth Jane) was a sister of Arthur Thomas (Postmaster of 50 Miskin Road). Other relations lived in the area, such as WILLIAM DAVIES, who was the owner of the De Winton Hotel and had married MARGARET BEVAN[see also item Ystradyfodwg part 2], sister of JENNET my g.g.g.grandmother. At one time WILLIAM DAVIES of Coed y Meibon Farm, was employed as a Coker and Mason, but many years later had risen from this position and was described as a Gentleman and had become a Justice of the Peace.

Jill Muir 5/6.5.2000 to the Glamorgan mailing list

A follow on;

From D.T. Alexander's Glamorgan Remincences published in 1915, where he talks about life in Tonypandy in the 1860's.

"The Scotch or Glamorgan Company commenced their pits in the Rhondda at this time, and I was present at the cuttings of the first sod at the invitation of my old friend, the late Mr Archibald Hood. The villages constituting what was then known as Dinas and which comprised the Store-house, Ffrwd Amos, and Pandy were still comparatively small.

At Penygraig a considerable number of houses had been erected, but I dare say it will be interesting to some of your readers to know, having regard to the prominence that has been given to this district, especially from Penygraig to Llwynypia, namely Tonypandy, that at this time nearly the whole of that district was covered with oak plantations of considerable dimensions.

There were certainly some, probably 40, houses at the upper part of Pandy, consisting of the old village, and there was a new house built at the junction of the roads in the middle of these plantations. This was a public-house known as the Dunraven Arms. There was also near this a row of about 10 or 12 old cottages on the Dunraven estate."

The Dunraven Arms, later the Dunraven Hotel, was owned by Jill Muir's  ancestor Thomas Davies.

Jill Muir to the Glamorgan mailing list


Tonyrefail's lack of drainage

'............There is no system of drainage or scavenging at Tonyrefail. The only drain runs along the main road from Redgate and empties itself by an open mouth into a stagnant pool, which occasionally overflows to the Ely River at Tonyrefail bridge[?]. This pool is in front of some cottages. The Village is badly supplied with water. The chief supplying [sic] is from a small spring called Caermans Well, which from its proximity to pit closets is liable to become dangerously polluted.

Gilfach Village is also dangerously defective. There being no water supply and no drainage. The closets are in a most dilapidated state. At Mount Pleasant the sewage from the closets percolates through the walls at the back of Llewellyn Terrace [&?] Gellyawell Row at the bottom of Gilfach. The bucket system is used and removed occasionally by the occupiers. The Row is already the starting point of Enteric Fever. There is no water supply. Mixed forms of Enteric fever and Diarrhoea also are prevalent here.'

'Edmunds Town in the Cymmer [?] District is in a most deplorable insanitary state.'

From --- H.M.Davies.[ 12650 MH12/16424 at the PRO].

Jill Muir 17.5.2000 to the Glamorgan mailing list


Scavenging sheep

Letter to Rhondda Urban Council 23 March 1909 from a resident of Maerdy.

(scavenger was the term for refuse collector)

' Dear Sir

I beg to bring to your notice the serious state of affairs now existing in James St. Maerdy, Rhondda as you are doubtless aware the refuse from the houses is put out in boxes in the street in the early morning to be taken away by the scavenger. The utensils containing such are no sooner put out than they are overturned by sheep and the contents scattered over the street, part of which is blown about to the inconvenience of pedestrians and residents and as part of this is decayed matter I feel sure it must be detrimental to the health of the residents. Trusting you will utilise the power you have to abate this nuisance.

I am,

Yours respectfully..........

PS I do not insinuate that the scavenger does not do his duty for I feel sure he does under existing condition.'

Local Government Board Comment on 20 May 1909 to RUC was dismissive as;

' .....It is difficult to believe that sheep make a practice of over turning the refuse utensils and the nuisance is in my thought imagined.....'

 

From the PRO file Rhondda Medical Officer of Health Reports MH/97/105

Steve Keates 20.6.2000 to the Glamorgan mailing list


Pontypridd, aspects of

'About 1810 there were only a few houses in the part of the village of Pontypridd situated in the Parish of Llanwonno. They were Ynysgyfilon, Tifca, the Butcher's Arms, the New Inn (where Gwilym Morganwg, the poet lived), Tommy Morris's shop, and the old mill. In the part of the village situated in the parish of Eglwysilan were the old Ynysygharad Row, the Old White Horse, (afterwards called the Queen's Hotel), Coedpenmaen Farmhouse, and a few other dwellings. The Old Bridge was originally named Pont-y-ty-pridd, from a clod cottage that stood near it. The name was ultimately abbreviated to Pontypridd by a local postmaster. The population was small and scattered, both in the village and the district.'

'Then, there was not sufficient coal - fifteen tons a week - raised in the whole of the Rhondda valley to supply the little ynysangharad Works at Pontypridd. An additional quantity was brought from Maesmawr, Craig-yr-Allt, and Merthyr. Some coal was brought from the mountain, about halfway to Gelliwion, and was carried on asses' backs.'

'Pontypridd was still a little village about 1843; Tommy Morris kept the general stores and supplied all the villagers. There was a wagon to Cardiff daily. A coach ran from Cardiff to Merthyr. There was no post office in Pontypridd, the postal centre being at Treforest, where the Pontypridd letters had to be posted before eight o'clock in the morning. The market was then a Llantrisant, and it was there that the people of Pontypridd and district made their principal purchases in the pre-colliery days.'

Extracts from Early History of the Rhondda Valley - Pontypridd Baptist Centenary 1810-1910 by Rev. B.D. Johns

David Pike  30.6.2000 to the Glamorgan mailing list


House and gardens

In his Report the Rhondda Medical Officer of Health made these interesting comments regarding House Accommodation in the area.

He makes the comments that the houses are 'generally speaking substantially built of the Pennant Sandstone' and because of the 'recent developments' very few old houses existed in the urban area........'There is no great congestion of buildings on space,.......the individual houses are generally furnished with a sufficiency of open space, a small garden usually forming a component part of the premises.'

However he finds that 'improper use' is made of the gardens............'a great partiality for nondescript erections of wood or corrugated iron for sheltering pigeons, fowls, dogs, and other animals being noticeable.....'

I think in this bit he is being unjust possibly blaming a few cases on the many, '...........in too many instances also the "garden" is made to serve the purposes of a dumping ground for house-refuse, rags, empty meat-tins and other indications of the slovenly and thriftless household.'

He does however condemn the collieries and their tips for their ...'dusty, disordered, and decidedly inartistic appearance..........as......offering no incentive to the individual householder to beautify his own home from a spirit of emulation.'

He does feel that a "health conscience" should be encouraged and ........'Now that the Eight Hours Act is in force' .......permitting.....'the colliers to enjoy the many hours of daylight and sunshine at home it is to be hoped that their gardens and the general surroundings of their houses will receive the amount of attention that is due.......'

From M.O.H. Report Rhondda Urban District Council 1909 [PRO MH/97/105]

Steve Keates 9 July 2000 to the Glamorgan mailing list


Cymmer pits/the Insoles

The Upper and both New and Old Cymmer Pits were owned by the Insoles and it is known that the Insoles used a form of employment contract in which the Collier in their employ signed to work for twelve months from the date of signing the contract.

This is part of the contract from 1849;

' Parr 6: And we, the undersigned colliers and workmen agree with Messrs George Insole and James Harvey Insole to cut and work the said coal in Cymmer Levels, and doing the usual work of colliers for carrying on the works safely for the above prices, terms and conditions for ONE YEAR from the date thereof, unless there be a general alteration in prices for cutting and working the coal in the same veins in the Cwm Rhonda Valley; and we bind ourselves to abide by any advance or reduction that takes place in the same veins. The coal to the workmen to be supplied to them as hereafter. '

The last line refers to the 'free' coal suppplied to all colliery workers.

The Insoles built some of the houses in Porth and Cymmer .

Steve Keates 24 July 2000 to the Glamorgan mailing list


Drinking water problems  in Pontygwaith-1908

Letter to the Medical Officerof Health, Rhondda UDC from David J. Evans Pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Pontygwaith. This is in fact quite a mild problem compared to many but illustrates not only unpleasant water but structural problems concerning housing.

"5 Tanybryn Terr. Pontygwaith, Rhondda Valley, South Wales

Nov 25 1908

Dear Sir

I do not know whether I am in order (if not pardon me) calling attention to the state of the drinking water supplied to some of the houses of Pontygwaith. At all times owing to foreign matter such as earth, grit and the like it is unfit for drinking purposes. At times it is discoloured. Such water I believe is injurious to the health of the inhabitants and as a proof of this statement may I point out the fact that infant mortality is high here and also that I know of cases where little children who have been ill have recovered after their parents have stopped giving them the water as it comes from the taps.

Further I do not know whether building site comes under your jurisdiction but I should like to point out that the house in which I live is one of a row of houses erected on the slope of a hill. There is a constant stream of water trickling under the house, and dripping out by the bottom step in front of the house.

Can anything be done to compel building contractors to drain the land before they build on it?

Trusting that this letter will receive your consideration.

I beg to remain, yours respectfully

David J. Evans, Pastor,  Eng. Presbyterian Church"

There is no copy of a reply to David Evans in the archive only an attached letter stating that the Pontypridd Water Act had received the Royal Assent on 1 August .

Further to this is a Report in the Glamorgan Free Press,  Dec 5 1912 , on the poor quality of the water in Pontypridd, and hope for an improvement in the plumbescent filtration of the water.

Steve Keates 29 Jan 2001 to the Glamorgan mailing list

Follow on ;

At a meeting of the Pontypridd Urban District Council on Tuesday 3 Dec 1912 Dr Howard Davies the Medical Officer of Health reported that the water supply of the district has of late not been satisfactory not only on account of its turbidity but also owing to the presence of large quantities of dissolved lead in the water.

Investigating various reports of lead poisoning he states

"samples are of acid reaction and contain dissolved lead in large amount, lead from his various samples was between one-fourth of a grain and one-eighth of a grain. A sample from Lanwern Road contained the greater quantity of lead and was described as of a yellowish green colour and was turbid in appearance".

He makes the point that one of the samples contained the highest amounts of lead yet found in water from the Pontypridd Water Works. He also condemns the water from the works at Mardy since it  

"does not receive the treatment that your authority (Pontypridd UDC) have a right to expect."

"The inhabitants of the district were led to believe that they could expect a pure supply of water when it got under the control of the public bodies of the district. In this they have been sadly disappointed".

The Water Board were informed and Mr E. W. Terrey, Water Board Engineer, stated that "he was closely investigating the matter".

Adapted from an account in the Glamorgan Free Press Thursday December 12 1912

In further annual MOH reports the quality of the water from the Pontypridd Water Co was a regular problem.

Steve 2 Feb 2001 to the Glamorgan mailing list


Ystradyfodwg and Treherbert, some descriptive snippets.

The  following information is extracted from Bennett's Directory for South Wales - 1916;

The parish of Ystradyfodwg was split into the following three districts:

District One: comprising the wards of Ferndale & Tylorstown [towns in the area included Maerdy, Ferndale, Blaenllechau, Tylorstown, Penrhys, Stanleytown & Pontygwaith].

District Two: comprising the wards of Ynyshir, Porth, part of Penygraig and Trealaw [towns in the area included Wattstown, Ynyshir, Porth, part of Trehafod, Cymmer, Trebanog, Rhiwgarn, part of Dinas, part of Penygraig, Tonypandy & Trealaw].

District Three: comprising the wards of Llwynypia, Ystrad, Pentre, Treorchy and Treherbert [towns in the area included Clydach Vale, Blaenclydach, Llwynypia, Gelli, Ystrad, Ton-Pentre, Pentre, Cwmparc, Treorchy, Ynyswen, Pen-yr-Englyn, Treherbert, Tynewydd, Blaenrhondda and Blaenycwm.

Extract from Kelly's Directory - 1895:

'Ystradyfodwg, an extensive parish comprising several hamlets, is one of the largest coal-producing parishes in Glamorgan ... it forms the Rhondda Valley division of the county and is in the hundred of Miskin, petty sessional division of Lower Miskin, Pontypridd union and county court district, rural deanery of Upper Llandaff [Northern Division], and archdeanery and diocese of Llandaff. The parish, with parts of Llantrisant and Llanwonno, was governed by a local Board until an Urban District Council was established by the Local Government Act, 1894. ... The area of the parish is 19,440 acres of land and 108 of water; ... the population in 1861 was 3,857; in 1871, 17,777; in 1881, 44,046 and in 1891, 68,721, comprising several thickly inhabited places of towns in which there are chapels of various denominations. ... The territory attached to the church at Ystradyfodwg can be defined as ... starting at Pont-y-Cymer on the Rhondda Fawr, a little above the confluence of the Rhondda streams at Porth; the boundary followed the course of the Rhondda Fach northwards to the borders of Brecon being virtually the boundary also of Glynrhondda in that locality. From Pont-y-Cymer westwards, the boundary followed the course of the Rhondda Fawr to present day Penygraig where a stream, Ffrwd Amos, joins the river. It then took the course of Ffrwd Amos into the hills following it to its spring, at a point not far distant from that which the boundary of Glynrhondda proceeded over Craig-y-Llyn to the River Neath. This line served as the boundary of Penychen, Glynrhondda and Ystradyfodwg. Ystradyfodwg, therefore, stood for a unit of territory much nearer in extent to our idea of the Rhondda, than did Glynrhondda, although it should be borne in mind that Ystradyfodwg did include Rhigos, the area being roughly inbetween Craig-y-Llyn and the Brecon border ... ...

... The first vicar of Ystradyfodwg was Canon William Lewis, he himself having been styled Perpetual Curate when he first came to the parish in 1869. More grants followed the original one of 1735, so that gradually, the incumbent of Ystradyfodwg, although still appointed by the Vicar of Llantrisant, became self-sufficient from the standpoint of his stipend ...

Llwyd visited the parish of Ystradyfodwg where 'In a steep rock called Craig-y-Parc and others', he recorded, 'we observed divers veins of coal exposed to sight as naked as the rock ...'. When Llwyd made this observation in 1697, the population of the parish was only about 550, but with the exploitation of the 'veins of coal' in a later century, the population increased phenominally and ... in 1921, it had reached a total of 162,717.'

Below are two extracts re: Treherbert. the first is from Kelly's Directory of Monmouthshire & South Wales, 1901 & 1885. The second is taken from 'Glamorgan - Its History & Topography' by C.J.O. Evans 1945.

' Treherbert is a town amongst mountains ... at the foot of Penpych which rises 1,700 ft. above the level of the sea. It is eleven miles north-west from Pontypridd and is the terminus of the Rhondda branch of the Taff Vale Railway, and also of the Rhondda and Swansea Vale Railway, opened July 14th. 1890. The church of St. Mary, a chapel of ease to St. John's, Ystradyfodwg, erected by the Marquess of Bute, in 1867, at a cost of 4,000, is a building of Welsh sandstone with Bath stone dressings and consists of chancel, nave, south aisle, porch and a bell cot containing one bell: there are 400 sittings. The Public Hall, erected in 1872, at a cost of 2,500 will seat 1,000 people; it is used for dramatic and other entertainments, concerts and public meetings. There are several collieries ands also engineering works.'

'Treherbert, eleven miles north of Pontypridd, is a colliery town almost at the haad of the Rhondda Valley. Despite its obvious industrialisation, the beauty of the surrounding hills gves it a picturesque environment. Behind the hospital, an inter-valley road winds up the steep slopes of Mynydd Tynewydd [1,692 ft.], finally reaching, after passing some magnificant mountain scenery, the heights above Hirwaun Common. The descent leads past the ridge to the west of Craig-y-Llyn [1,969 ft.], and winds down towards Llyn Fawr [now a resevoir], a lake sheltering in a corner below the precipitous walls of Glamorgan's highest elevation.'

Finally, for civil registration purposes, part of Dinas Rhondda comes under the parish of Ystradyfodwg.

The address of the Register Office covering Ystradyfodwg is : Pontypridd Register Office, Courthouse Steet, Pontypridd, CF37 1LJ.

Sue Williams  22 Sept 2001 to the Glamorgan mailing list


Famous son of Rhondda.

George Thomas; Viscount Tonypandy, Speaker of the House of Commons in his time, a man I admired from afar for his simple honesty in political life. Reading his autobiography it occurred to me how typically Glamorgan his ancestral background was in many ways, both from the point of view of originating from far and wide, and the reasons for coming to the Rhondda in the first place.

This summary makes a nice story;

George's maternal grandfather was a John Tilbury who came to the Rhondda in 1872 aged 34. John's family had lived for generations in Clanfield, Hampshire where they founded the Clanfield Methodist Chapel. The local establishment in Clanfield was so opposed to non-conformity that John had to run a small business buying and selling fruit to maintain his independence. While in Bristol selling fruit he met George's grandmother, Elizabeth Loyns. She was the grand daughter of a Frenchman who had fled to Somerset during the Revolution's Reign of Terror, and she grew up on a farm near Wellington in Somerset. When John and Elizabeth married they had a drapery store in Petersfield, Hampshire but were soon on the move when they heard stories of the rapid industrial development in South Wales 'where new pits were being sunk every month'.

John began his new life in Wales as a greengrocer but switched to being a building contractor, and indeed he became very successful building long rows of houses for immigrant labour.

John Tilbury, and another English immigrant-John Hearn- established the English Methodist Chapel in Tonypandy. On John's first Sunday in Tonypandy he dressed to go to the local church as he would have in Petersfield. When he returned home, he announced to Elizabeth; " I'll not wear my frock coat and top hat to go to church again, Elizabeth, people were turning to stare at me as we passed"

George's paternal grandfather's family came to the Rhondda from Carmarthen, leaving farmwork for the attraction of a miner's wages. They were thoroughly Welsh, worshipping at the Welsh Conregational Church in Penygraig, and speaking only in Welsh to each other.

Gareth  Hicks  24 Nov 2001 to the Glamorgan mailing list


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[Last Updated : 30 Sept 2002 Gareth Hicks]

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