Aberavon shown within Neath Port Talbot
|Population||5,452 (2011 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Principal area||Neath Port Talbot|
|Ceremonial county||West Glamorgan|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||PORT TALBOT|
|Fire||Mid and West Wales|
Aberavon (Welsh: Aberafan) is a settlement in Neath Port Talbot county borough, Wales. The town derived its name from being near the mouth of the river Afan, which also gave its name to a medieval lordship. Today it is essentially a district of Port Talbot, covering the central and south western part of the town. Aberavon is also the name of the nearby Blue Flag beach and the parish covering the same area.
During the Norman conquest of Glamorgan, Caradog, the eldest son of the cheated Welsh prince, Iestyn ab Gwrgant, was allowed to retain lordship of the western extremities of his former lands for the defence of the passage of the river far west of these lands. Iestyn's lands were seized by the Normans after Iestyn's army had been depleted in defeating Rhys ap Tewdwr, King of Deheubarth. Iestyn and Caradog were ordered to build a castle by William Fitzhamon, their Norman overlord. The castle was mockingly named 'Villa d'Avene' and Iestyn and his descendents were given the derisory title 'Lord d'Avene' by the Normans, who despised all things not Norman - even their own mercenaries. The town of Avene grew up around the castle and at various stages of its growth was named Aven, Avon, Afon and Afan. Having come into existence to protect the Norman river crossing at the Villa'd'Avene, the town later gained the Welsh prefix 'Aber' (which means 'the mouth of the river'; here where the river meets the sea) to be known as Aberaven, Aberavon, Aberafon and, within the recent past, Aberafan. Etymologically, studying the ways in which words are formed and recorded in history, the more correct name for the modern town of Aberafan would be 'Avene Aberavon' - Avene on the banks of a river, or from the Twentieth Century, Afan Aberafon. From the 13th century onwards the D'Avene title accorded to the lord of the 'manor' gained more respect and was embraced by the Normans to suit their purposes of appropriation. The 'new' Norman land owners established, under line protection of the castle, a chartered town, which in 1372 received a further charter from fighting for the Normans against Edward le Despencer, 1st Baron le Despencer, into whose family the lordship had come on an exchange of lands (which, of course, favoured the Normans). In modern times these charters were not acted upon. As the town is essentially built on the west bank of a river and the Welsh (and old English) name for river is afon or avon, the original name of the town of Avene was lost in time so that the town became familiarly recorded as Aberavon by the mid 16th century (a town on the banks of 'a river'). The river gained the name 'Afan' by Welsh speaking locals in the hillside hamlets of Pontrhydyfen and Michaelston Super Avon (modern day Cwmavon/Cwmafan) late in the nineteenth century and this might have been a corruption of Avene or derived from the Celtic words 'ab'han', meaning 'from above'. The town of Aberavon (so spelled) was deemed a borough by prescription and in 1861 it was incorporated under the Municipal Corporations Act.
The English antiquarian John Leland made an extensive journey through Wales c.1536-39 of which he recorded an itinerary. He passed through Aberafan, which he describes as a "poor village" surrounded by barren ground, though he also describes the area as heavily wooded, not much of which remains today. He mentions the use of the river mouth as a port, a "haven for ships" as he puts it. His portrayal of Aberafan as a small, struggling village however suggests that the port was not in great use, especially as traffic to and from Margam Abbey would have ceased following its dissolution in 1536.
Aberavon was the birthplace of Dic Penderyn, a key figure in the Merthyr Rising of 1831. St Mary's Church is the site of his grave. The castle site was built over between 1876 and 1897 and its foundations now lie underneath the streets around the church. There have been reports of a ghost, a white lady seen floating above the castle ruins. The ghost is speculated to be Jane de Afan, the last occupant of Aberavon Castle.
From 1832 Aberavon belonged to the Swansea parliamentary district of boroughs, uniting with Kenfig, Loughor, Neath and Swansea to return one member; since 1918 it has had its own constituency. Its most famous MP was Ramsay MacDonald.Sir Geoffrey Howe,who although born locally never represented the town in Parliament,chose as his peerage title Lord Howe of Aberavon.
In the 1950s many of the sand dunes of Aberavon Beach disappeared as part of the development of the Sandfields estate, at this time a 1.25 mile sea wall was built primarily for sea defences. The estate was built to accommodate the growing population, especially the families of workers at the new Port Talbot Steelworks.
Aberavon hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1932 and 1966.
Aberavon & Port Talbot Golf Club (now defunct) was founded in 1905. The course closed following WW2 and the land was used for housing.
Baglan Industrial Park
The Baglan Bay Industrial Park lies on a stretch of Baglan Moors in the parish of Aberavon south east of the Baglan Energy Park and immediately northwest of Neath Port Talbot Hospital. It is sandwiched between the M4 Motorway and Afan Way (A4241). Current occupants include Morrisons, Lidl, KFC, Dreams, Pound Stretcher, Pets at Home & Halfords superstores and a Warburtons bread factory in premises which were previously occupied by Panasonic.
Government and politics
|Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council|
|1st: Ceri Golding (Labour)|
|2nd: Mark Jones (Labour)|
|3rd: Anthony Taylor (Social Democratic Party)|
Aberavon is bounded by the wards of Sandfields West and Sandfields East to the southwest; Baglan to the north; Port Talbot to the east and Margam to the south. The ward boundaries can be defined by the roads surrounding it which are the M4 Motorway to the north east; the A4241 to the north west; Afan Way to the southwest and the River Afan to the south east.
The Aberavon ward can be roughly divided into two parts. There is the residential area to the southeastern part of the ward beside the River Afan. The north western area consists of areas of industrial estate land called the Baglan Industrial Park which includes a number of out of town retail premises as well as business and manufacturing premises.
In the 2012 local council elections, the electorate turnout for Aberavon was 35.84%. The results were:
|Ceri Golding||Labour||751||Labour gain|
|Mark Jones||Labour||740||Labour gain|
|Anthony Taylor||Social Democratic Party||702||Social Democratic Party hold|
|John Sullivan||Social Democratic Party||556|
|Jeff Dinham||Social Democratic Party||550|
|Paul Nicholas-Jones||Plaid Cymru||185|
- ONS: Key Figures for 2001 Census: Census Area Statistics
- "Full text of "The itinerary of John Leland in or about the years 1535-1543. parts I to XI"". Archive.org. Retrieved 2013-05-28.
- “Aberavon & Port Talbot Golf Club”, “Golf’s Missing Links”.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Aberavon.|
- www.geograph.co.uk : photos of Aberavon and surrounding area
- Largest online collection of historical photos of Aberavon / Port Talbot