infobox UK place
country = Wales
static_image_caption = Caradog statue in Victoria Square
Rhondda Cynon Taff
constituency_westminster= Cynon Valley
postcode_district = CF44
population= Aberdare ( _cy. Aberdâr) is an industrial
townin the county boroughof Rhondda Cynon Taff, Wales, situated (as the name implies) at the confluenceof the River Dar and Cynon rivers. The population at the (1991) censuswas 31,619. It is convert|4|mi south west of Merthyr Tydfiland convert|24|mi north west of Cardiff.
History and Development
From being, at the beginning of the 19th century, a mere
villagein an agricultural district, the place grew rapidly in population owing to the abundance of its coaland iron ore, and the population of the whole parish(which was only 1,486 in 1801) increased tenfold during the first half of the 19th century. It has since declined, owing to the loss of most of the heavy industry. Ironworkswere established at Llwydcoedand Abernantin 1799 and 1800 respectively, followed by others at Gadlys and Aberamanin 1827 and 1847. These have not been worked since about 1875. After this, the iron industry was represented only by a small tinplateworks, but by this stage the economy of the town was dominated by the coal miningindustry. There were also several brickworks and breweries. During the latter half of the 19th century, considerable public improvements were made to the town, which became, despite its neighbouring collieries, a pleasant place to live. Its institutions included a post-graduate theological college (opened in connection with the Church of Englandin 1892, until 1907, when it was removed to Llandaff).
Aberdare, with the ecclesiastical parishes of St Fagan's (Trecynon) and Aberaman carved out of the ancient parish, had twelve
Anglicanchurches, one Roman Catholic church (built in 1866 in Monk Street near the site of a cell attached to Penrhys Abbey) and at one time had over fifty Nonconformist chapels. The services in the majority of the chapels were in the Welsh language. The urban district includes what were once the separate villages of Aberaman, Abernant, Cwmaman, Cwmbach, Cwmdare, Llwydcoed, Penywaunand Trecynon. There are several cairns and the remains of a circular British encampment on the mountain between Aberdare and Merthyr. Hirwaunmoor, 4 miles to the north west of Aberdare, was according to tradition the scene of a battle at which Rhys ap Tewdwr, prince of Dyfed, was defeated by the allied forces of the Norman Robert Fitzhamonand Iestyn ap Gwrgant, the last Welsh prince of Glamorgan.
The Coal Industry
In the early years of Aberdare's development, most of the coal worked in the parish was coking coal, and was consumed locally, chiefly in the
ironworks. In 1836, exploitation of the "Four-foot Seam" of high-calorific value steam coalbegan, and pits were sunk in rapid succession. This coal was valuable for steam railways and steam ships, and an export trade began, via the Taff Vale Railwayand the port of Cardiff. The population of the parish rose from 6,471 in 1841 to 14,999 in 1851 and 32,299 in 1861 and John Davies [Davies, John, "A History of Wales", Penguin, 1994, ISBN 0-14-014581-8, p 400] described it as "the most dynamic place in Wales". In 1851, the Admiraltydecided to use Welsh steam coal in ships of the Royal Navy, and this decision boosted the reputation of Aberdare's product and launched a huge international export market [Davies, "op cit", p 400] . Coal mined in Aberdare parish rose from convert|177000|LT|t in 1844 to convert|477000|LT|t in 1850 [Davies, "op cit", p 384] , and the coal trade, which after 1875 was the chief support of the town, soon reached huge dimensions. Steam coal was subsequently found in the Rhondda and further west, but many of the great companies of the Welsh coal industry's Gilded Age started operation in Aberdare and the lower Cynon Valley, including those of Samuel Thomas, David Davies and Sons, Nixon's Navigation and Powell Duffryn[Davies, "op cit", p 400] . In common with the rest of the South Wales coalfield, Aberdare's coal industry commenced a long decline after World War I, and the last two deep mines still in operation in the 1960s were the small Aberaman and Fforchaman collieries, which closed in 1962 and 1965 respectively.
Aberdare, during its boom years, was considered a centre of
Welsh culture: it hosted the first National Eisteddfodin 1861, again in 1885, and in 1956 at Aberdare Parkwhere the Gorsedd standing stones still exist.
Aberdare was the birthplace of the Second World War poet
Alun Lewis, and a plaque commemorating him is to be found, including a quotation from his poem, "The Mountain over Aberdare".
The original founding members of the rock band
Stereophonicsoriginated from the nearby village of Cwmaman. It is also the hometown of guitarist Mark Parryof Vancouver rock band The Manvils. Famed anarchist-punk band Crassplayed their last live show for striking miners in Aberdare during the UK miners' strike (1984-1985).
Griffith Rhys Jones - or Caradog as he was commonly known - was the Conductor of the famous 'Côr Mawr' of some 460 voices (the South Wales Choral Union), which twice won first prize at Crystal Palace choral competitions in London in the 1870s. He is depicted in the town's most prominent statue by sculptor Goscombe John, unveiled on Victoria Square in 1920.
Aberdare Athletic F.C.were members of the Football Leaguebetween 1921 and 1927 before being replaced by Torquay Unitedafter finishing bottom. The club folded a year later. They played their games at the Aberdare Athletic Ground.
Aberdare Rugby Football Club are a
rugby unionteam formed in 1890 which still play in Aberdare today at the Ynys Stadium.
Aberdare Athletic Groundwas also the venue of the first ever rugby leagueinternational played between Wales and the New Zealand All Golds on New Years Day 1908, which was won by the Welsh 9-8.
The town is served by
Aberdare railway stationand Aberdare bus stationwhich are opposite each other in the town centre.
chools and colleges
Caradog primary school
Town Church primary school
St Margarets Roman Catholic primary school
Aberdare Boys' Comprehensive School
Aberdare Boys Grammar School(now closed)
*Aberdare Girls' School
Blaengwawr Comprehensive School
Ysgol Gyfun Rhydywaun
St. John the Baptist School (Aberdare)
University of Glamorgan
Notable people from Aberdare and district
Notable current and former residents and natives of Aberdare include:
Genevieve Docherty- Imposter Aberaman, Aberdare
Ioan Gruffudd- Actor born in Llwydcoed, Aberdare
Patrick Hannan (presenter)- Welsh broadcaster
Bethan Jenkins- Member of the National Assembly for Walesfor the South Wales (West) Region
Mihangel Morgan- a leading Welsh languagewriter, born in Trecynon, some of his literary works feature Aberdare
Roy Noble- popular Welsh broadcaster has lived near Aberdare for the past thirty years
Jo Walton- fantasy novelist, now living in Montreal, Quebec
*David Young - Rugby player and Cardiff Blues' coach raised in Penywaun. Lions tourist and former Wales' captain.
Lyn Evans- particle physicist and project leader of the Large Hadron Collider, the largest science experiment in the world.
* [http://www.aberdareblog.co.uk/ Aberdare Blog]
* [http://www.aberdarerfc.co.uk/ Aberdare RFC]
* [http://www.aberdare-trefoil.co.uk/ Aberdare Trefoil Guild]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/wales/southeast/sites/aberdare/ BBC website on Aberdare]
* [http://www.geograph.org.uk/search.php?i=2734169 www.geograph.co.uk : photos of Aberdare and surrounding area]
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