Bridgend - Gazetteers


Extract from A Topographical Dictionary of Wales (1833) by Samuel Lewis 

"BRIDGEND, otherwise PENYBONT AR OGWR, a market town, partly in the parish of COYTY, and partly in that of NEWCASTLE, hundred of NEWCASTLE, county of GLAMORGAN, SOUTH WALES, 20 miles (W. by N.) from Cardiff, and 179 (W.) from London. The population is returned with the different parishes, the various portions in which also support their respective poor.

This town, the name of which is of obvious etymology, is pleasantly situated, about three-quarters of a mile to the north of the turnpike road from Cardiff to Swansea, on the banks of the river Ogmore, which divides it into two parts, the hamlet of Oldcastle occupying its eastern, and that of Newcastle its western, bank, and over which there are two bridges of stone, one of them an elegant modern structure of three arches, forming an ornamental entrance from the west.

It stands in a beautiful and fertile district, nearly in the centre of the county, and consists of one irregular street, containing some excellent shops, with several handsome dwelling-houses in the environs: it is neither paved nor lighted, but well supplied with water, and has been much improved of late years, by the erection of several good houses, and by modernizing the old ones. There are no fixed amusements, but concerts and dramatic performances occasionally take place at the town-hall. An act of parliament has recently been obtained for constructing a new line of road from the town to a place called Pant y Brocastle, by which the distance from Cowbridge will be shortened one mile, and the nearest and least hilly road from Cardiff to Swansea brought through the town.

A large woollen manufactory was established here, about the commencement of the present century, by several gentlemen of the county, both to encourage industry among the inhabitants, and to provide a home market for the wool produced in the vicinity ; but this scheme has failed to freaze the expectations of its promoters.

Contiguous to the town are some quarries of excellent freestone, the produce of which resembles the Portland-stone, to which it is not much inferior. A rail-road from the iron-works at Maes Teg to the little harbour of Porthcawl, a distance of sixteen miles, has recently been completed, and, with the improvement of the harbour itself, is said to have cost about £ 100,000. In connexion with this is a branch railway, commencing near the village of Cevn Gribbwr, in the parish of Laleston, on the line of the former, and extending four miles and a half, in an eastern direction, to the vicinity of Bridgend : it is intended principally to facilitate the transmission of coal from the large works on the line of the Dyfryn Llynvi and Porthcawl rail-road to this town and its vicinity, and to open a communication between the latter and the harbour of Porthcawl, which is a creek to the port of Swansea, and is usually considered the shipping-place for Bridgend, from which it is five miles distant.

The market is on Saturday, and is noted for the sale of corn, which is pitched in the market-place ; it is also abundantly supplied with provisions, which are sold at reasonable prices. The fairs are on Holy Thursday, or Ascension-day, and November 17th, chiefly for the sale of cattle and cheese.

The petty sessions for the hundred are held here every Saturday; and here also the election of the parliamentary representative for the county takes place. The town-hall is a neat structure, standing in the middle of the town, where the elections are held, and other local business is transacted.

In that part of the town which is in the parish of Coyty, forming the hamlet of Oldcastle, is the chapel of Nolton, which is a chapel of ease to Coyty, where divine service is regularly performed; and in that part which is in the hamlet and parish of Newcastle is situated the church of that parish. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists, and Unitarians : that for the Unitarians, with another in the parish of Bettws, belonging to the same sect, is endowed with lands and money, amounting to about £40 per aunum chiefly by the ancestors of that distinguished divine, moralist, and political writer, Dr. Richard Price, who was born at Tynton, in the neighbouring parish of Bettws, in 1723.

A National school, in which one hundred children of both sexes are instructed, is supported principally by the liberality of the Rt. Hon. Sir John Nicholl, and his family, aided by a charity sermon and some private subscriptions.

A savings' bank and a dispensary have been erected with part of a sum arising from the unappropriated fractional parts of dividends, which amounted to £800; the dispensary, for the distribution of medicines and advice gratis among the poor of the adjoining parishes, not receiving parochial relief, is supported by subscriptions, usually amounting to £ 100 per annum.

The hamlets of Oldcastle and Newcastle derived their names from two fortresses, probably erected by some of the early Norman invaders of Glamorgan, to secure their newly-acquired possessions from the attacks of the native chieftains, to which they were for a long time exposed : that which gave name to the former stood near the present chapel of Nolton, the tithe barn having been subsequently erected on part of its site, and appears to have been dependent upon the neighbouring castle of Coyty; while the other occupied a commanding situation on a precipitous eminence above the church.

George Cadogan Morgan, nephew of Dr. Price, and classical tutor and lecturer on natural philosophy in the dissenting academy at Hackney in Middlesex, was a native of this place : he published two volumes of Lectures on Electricity, and a small work on education, entitled " Directions for the use of a Scientific Table in the collection and application of Knowledge," and communicated to the Royal Society a valuable paper, under the title of " Observations and Experiments on the light of bodies in a state of combustion," which was published in the seventy-fifth volume of the Philosophical Transactions : he died at Southgate, near London, in 1798."

Bridgend - Lewis 1833 [Last Updated : 18 Oct 2002 - Gareth Hicks]