Crane Street, Pontypool
Pontypool shown within Torfaen
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
It is situated on the Afon Lwyd river in the county borough of Torfaen. Situated on the eastern edge of the South Wales coalfields, Pontypool grew around industries including iron and steel production, coal mining and the growth of the railways. A rather artistic manufacturing industry which also flourished here alongside heavy industry was Japanning, a type of lacquer ware.
Pontypool itself consists of several smaller districts, these include Abersychan, Cwmffrwdoer, Pontnewynydd, Trevethin, Penygarn, Wainfelin, Tranch, Brynwern, Pontymoile, Blaendare, Cwmynyscoy, New Inn, Griffithstown and Sebastopol.
Jasper Tudor, the Lord of Abergavenny and uncle of King Henry VII, on 10 October 1490, made a grant of land to one John ap David, and in the conveyance fixes one boundary as "...the highway leading from the church of Trevethin towards the bridge called Pont poell." It would seem therefore that the town gains its name from the bridge placed near the swampy pool which almost certainly would be greater than the forge pond that exists today.
The coming of industry
Pontypool grew principally from the manufacture of iron. Although iron was made from 1425 in Pontymoile, now a suburb of Pontypool, Pontypool grew only when Richard Hanbury bought land locally during the Elizabethan period in 1588 and constructed an ironworks. The Hanburys pioneered the production of iron Pontypool japan-ware with its decorated, lacquered style.
The Hanbury family lived in what was to become Pontypool Park, and around this the town grew. Much of the town's history comes from this family of industrial pioneers. The Napoleonic Wars were kind to the Hanburys, with increased prosperity due to the demand for munitions and armaments. With this increased wealth, Capel Hanbury Leigh extended Pontypool Park House between 1779 and 1840. Highly elaborate wrought iron gates can be seen at the entrance to the park. These were made in the 1720s and remodelled in 1835 by Thomas Deakin. They were a gift to Major John Hanbury (1664–1734) by the Duchess of Marlborough.
Between 1996 and 1998 a new bypass completely diverted traffic away from the town centre. This added to a decline of many years, and much of the old town centre was increasingly abandoned by both visitors and businesses. In 2003 plans were drawn up to regenerate the town centre and today the town has seen the redevelopment of Crane Street, one of the principal shopping streets.
Crane Street had been the location of the town's central railway station, on the Newport-Blaenavon branch line, but this was closed to passengers in April 1962 and to freight in 1967. Contrary to what is often remembered locally, the passenger service to Crane Street had already been closed for almost a year before the publication of the notorious Beeching Report. In financial terms the line was doing no worse than any of the other lines in the South Wales valleys but the closure of the railway line was due to the opening of the new Llanwern steelworks on the outskirts of Newport: the amount of freight traffic the new plant generated was causing severe rail congestion in the Newport area, and in an era when passenger rail transport was in decline a number of local services in Monmouthshire were withdrawn by the British Transport Commission as an operational measure.
Pontypool still has a passenger rail link, but as the main Cardiff-Crewe line skirts the town it is well over a mile from the town centre. Pontypool Road as it was originally known, became an important junction, engine shed and marshalling yard, but the decline of the railways after the war, combined with the run-down of the mining industry, hit the area badly and all the other local passenger and coal lines have been closed and the tracks removed. The first passenger closure in the area had come as early as 1941, with the "Upper Line" service from Crane St to Brynmawr (via Cwmffrwdoer and Pentrepiod) being withdrawn due to wartime cutbacks, but it did not return after hostilities ended. Passenger services to Usk and Monmouth ended in 1955, and the line to Neath and Swansea (which also stopped at a station called Pontypool Clarence Street on the edge of the town centre) closed in 1964 - the latter being the only rail service in the area which actually did fall victim to Dr Beeching. In 1972 the station was renamed to just "Pontypool" and again in 1994 to "Pontypool and New Inn", to reflect its actual location in the suburb to the south-east of the town, but it is now an unmanned station with few amenities, and only approximately half of the passenger trains on the line stop there, the rest going straight through. Direct trains on the Welsh Marches Line connect with Manchester Piccadilly and Cardiff Central for example.
As of 2008 Ferraris Bakery's Pontypool Branch shut down as a result of liquidation. About 55 jobs were lost altogether.
The once famous Clarence Hotel was redeveloped in 2004-05  and converted into flats and offices. In April 2006 a new Wetherspoons pub was opened on Osborne Road and named in honour of John Capel Hanbury, former owner of Pontypool Park House (now St. Alban's R.C. High School). In March 2011 the local council reported the winning of bids to various bodies including the heritage lottery fund for further works of regeneration in the town centre. The Pontypool regeneration fund is worth approximately £13m and will fund restoration works to key buildings, including the market hall, and will allow property owners access to 80% grants for works.
The town is home to two comprehensive schools: West Monmouth School, (formerly Jones' West Monmouth Grammar School for Boys) and St. Alban's R.C. High School. Trevethin Community School has been closed. This was formerly Pontypool Grammar School for Girls (also known as 'The County'), although at one time the sole campus was where the Welsh medium school, Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw now stands. Trevethin Community School was also the original site of the Welsh Baptist College. There is also a Coleg Gwent campus located in the town, formerly known as Pontypool College.
Sport and leisure
Pontypool Leisure Centre in Pontypool Park is a leisure centre with the only swimming venue in Pontypool. It has a 25 metre swimming pool for competitive swimming galas and viewing for up to 200 spectators. It also has a separate teaching pool and two hydroslides. Pontypool Park is also home to Wales' oldest and longest artificial ski slope. Built in 1974 and at 230m long it is used for leisure and by the Welsh Ski Squad for training. The ski slope is closed for part of the year due to local council funding cutbacks.
Pontypool has a prize-winning Brass Band who were chosen to perform in the Finals of the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain (Section 3) in 2012 and 2013.
Pontypool Rugby Football Club is one of the town's cornerstones. Founded in the 1870s, the club became a founder member of the Welsh Rugby Union in 1881. Under the captaincy of Terry Cobner the intervening years saw 'Pooler' become one of the great teams of Welsh rugby. The legendary 'Pontypool Front Row' in the 1970s, of Bobby Windsor, Charlie Faulkner and Graham Price was immortalised in song by Max Boyce. The club's contribution to Wales was seen again in 1983, when Pontypool's "forward factory" produced five of the Welsh pack in the Five Nations Championship. Other rugby union clubs based in or near the town are Pontypool United RFC, Garndiffaith RFC, Talywain RFC and Blaenavon RFC. Pontypool's rugby league club are called the Torfaen Tigers and play in the Rugby League Conference Welsh Premier.
- See also Category:People from Pontypool
- Jane Arden (née Norah Patricia Morris) - experimental film-maker, writer and poet.
- James Dean Bradfield was born in Pontypool, member of the Manic Street Preachers
- Terry Cobner - former Wales international rugby union player and British Lion.
- Caleb McDuff - deaf Racing Driver
- Keri Collins - screenwriter.
- Lee Dainton - member of Dirty Sanchez.
- Jennifer Daniel - actress.
- Marcus Ebdon - footballer.
- Luke Evans - actor and singer.
- Taulupe Faletau - Wales international rugby union player.
- Annabel Giles - model and presenter.
- Myfanwy Haycock - poet.
- Anthony Hopkins - actor, briefly attended West Monmouth School.
- Roy Jenkins - politician.
- Seth and Frank Joshua - Welsh Revival Evangelists (born in Tŷ Capel).
- Dame Gwyneth Jones - opera singer.
- William Jones (Chartist) - (1809–1873) was a political Radical and Chartist, a former actor, worked as a watchmaker in Pontypool.
- David Llewellyn - author.
- Steve Parry - experimental musician of the band Hwyl Nofio (born in New Inn).
- Joan Ruddock - politician.
- Tony Villars - footballer.
|Lower Race||Griffithstown, Cwmbran||Pontymoile, New Inn|
- "Cwm Lickey, Pontypool:: OS grid ST2698 at Geograph". Geograph.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
- "Cwm Lickey, Pontypool:: OS grid ST2698 at Geograph". Geograph.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
- "Clarence Hotel, Clarence Corner,... (C) steve sims :: Geograph Britain and Ireland". Geograph.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
- "Clarence Hotel, Pontypool (C) Kev Griffin :: Geograph Britain and Ireland". Geograph.org.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
- "BBC News - Pontypool £13.5m regeneration scheme to boost fortunes". Bbc.co.uk. 2011-03-26. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
- "BBC News - Summer shutdown for Pontypool ski slope in £9.2m cuts". Bbc.co.uk. 2011-02-04. Retrieved 2013-07-15.
- Old Francis Frith photographs of Pontypool
- www.geograph.co.uk : photos of Pontypool and surrounding area
- Gwent Army Cadet Force- Pontypool detachment
- Pontypool Past & Present - Community Facebook Group