History and origins
The name Cwmtwrch (Welsh language: 'Valley of the Wild Boar') derives from the “Twrch Trwyth”, a mythical wild boar of King Arthur’s legends and the ancient Welsh folklore tales of the Mabinogion in early Welsh literature. The legend relates to one of Arthur’s tasks: to rid the western Brecon Beacons of the pack of wild boars that were terrorizing the people. Arthur chased the boars from Dyfed eastward towards Powys. On the Black Mountain, he picked up a large stone (the carreg fryn fras) and cast it towards the wild animals, striking dead the leader of the pack on the edge of a valley near Craig-y-Fran Gorge. The big boar's body rolled down the valley and into the river which is now the Afon Twrch. The big stone is still on the mountain.
Cwmtwrch has been split into two parts, Upper Cwmtwrch (Cwm Twrch Uchaf) and Lower Cwmtwrch (Cwm Twrch Isaf), due to the traversing of the now defunct railway line and road at two points requiring an upper and lower gate. The Upper and Lower tag is something that is the subject of humorous comment given the village's size and population.
The village lies at the point where three historic counties meet: Brecknockshire, Carmarthenshire and Glamorgan. The George IV Inn is built where the three counties meet, and this made it interesting in the past, due to different licensing hours between counties.
A notable feature of Cwmtwrch is the Ffynnon which is a natural spring appearing at a memorial. The water is highly sulphurous and smells of rotten eggs, but it is claimed by the locals that it has healing properties, and people from as far away as Argentina have been there to collect water for drinking. The 'Ffynnon' is located across the river Twrch in Lower Cwmtwrch and can be accessed using the river walkway bridge or by car if using the Rhiw Fawr road.
A second, less renowned spring is located in Upper Cwmtwrch which provides clean drinking water without the natural delights of its sulphurous partner in Lower Cwmtwrch.
The village football team, Cwmtwrch Wanderers AFC, is long established and successful having won the Neath League Premier division on a number of occasions. They are the most successful team in the history of the Neath League with 31 major trophy victories.
Golf is played at Palleg Golf Club which is located in Lower Cwmtwrch. It has recently been extended to eighteen holes through lottery funding. A mountain course, it enjoys expansive views of the Swansea Valley.