The A48 road near the centre of Port Talbot
Port Talbot shown within Neath Port Talbot
|Population||35,633 (2001 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Principal area||Neath Port Talbot|
|Ceremonial county||West Glamorgan|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Post town||PORT TALBOT|
|Postcode district||SA12, SA13|
|Fire||Mid and West Wales|
Aberavon was first established by Caradoc ap Iestyn (son of Iestyn ap Gwrgant), on the instructions of Robert Fitzhamon, after the Normans' conquest of south Wales by the end of the eleventh century. The town grew up with and around the castle which Fitzhamon ordered to be built (where Castle, Norman and Bailey streets are situated near to Saint Mary's Church in modern-day Port Talbot). The first recorded name of Aberavon was the French Norman 'Avene' which is likely to be an interpretation of the Welsh 'a-bhan' meaning 'from the heights' meaning the hills of the Afan Valley, from whence flowed the River Afan. 'Afan' is always pronounced 'Avan'. Margam Abbey was founded in 1147 as a daughter house of Clairvaux, a Cistercian foundation, by Robert, 1st Earl of Gloucester. Local landowner John Talbot, fought at the Battle of Crécy, and bred the Talbot dog, a breed of small white dog, an ancestor of the modern Beagle.
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.
The area of the parish of Margam lying on the west bank of the lower Afan became industrialised following the establishment of a copperworks in 1770. The Afan was diverted and a dock was opened in 1839 named for the Talbot family, local landowners who were related to the pioneer photographer, William Henry Fox Talbot. The Talbots were patrons of Margam Abbey, and also built Margam Castle. Christopher Rice Mansel Talbot (1803–1890) (Liberal Member of Parliament for Glamorgan from 1830 until his death) saw the potential of his property as a site for an extensive ironworks, which opened in early 1831.
CRM Talbot's daughter Emily Charlotte Talbot (1840–1918) inherited her father's fortune and became just as notable in the development of ports and railways. With assistance from engineers Charles Meik and Patrick Meik, she set about creating a port and railway system to attract business away from Cardiff and Swansea. The Port Talbot Railway and Docks Company opened a dock at Port Talbot and the Llyfni Railway in 1897, followed by the Ogmore Valley Extension and the South Wales Mineral Junction Railway (almost all these lines were closed as part of the Beeching Axe cuts in the mid 1960s, but some bridges and viaducts remain and many of these railway routes have re-emerged as recreational cycle tracks). By 1900, the dock was exporting over 500,000 tons of coal; it reached a peak of over three million tons in 1923.
In 1952 the completion of the Abbey Works made Port Talbot the home of one of Europe's largest integrated steelworks and (with 18,000 employees) the largest employer in Wales. This was followed by the establishment of a chemical plant at Baglan Bay by BP in the 1960s. In 1970 a new deep-water harbour was opened by Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh. This harbour was capable of discharging iron ore vessels of 100,000 deadweight, a tenfold improvement on the old dock. By the early 21st century, due to further modification and dredging, the harbour is capable of harbouring vessels of over 170,000 deadweight.
In November 1921, the borough of Port Talbot was created, incorporating Margam, Cwmafan and the older town of Aberavon. It was therefore 85 years after the phrase 'Port Talbot' was first used, that the town's name was officially and legally recognised. Historically Port Talbot is part of historic county of Glamorgan. The 1974 county council re-organisation split Glamorgan into three new counties, and Port Talbot was one of four districts of West Glamorgan.
Following the demise of the West Glamorgan County Council, the Port Talbot borough council was merged with Neath and part of Lliw Valley Districts to create the new unitary authority of Neath Port Talbot County Borough in 1996. The Civic Centre is located in Port Talbot, and the town is represented by three of the 64 councillors that make up the county council.
The town is built along the eastern rim of Swansea Bay in a narrow strip of coastal plain surrounding the River Afan estuary. Swansea is visible on the opposite side of Swansea Bay. The local beach is known as Aberavon Sands and is situated along the edge of the bay between the River Afan and the River Neath. The other beach in Port Talbot is Margam Sands, popularly known as Morfa Beach. The north-eastern edge of the town is marked by the River Neath. A significant landmark in the town is the Port Talbot Steelworks.
Sporting teams in Port Talbot include:
- Aberavon Rugby Club, (founded in 1876) who play in the Rugby Union Welsh Premier Division
- Tata Steel Multi Sport Club, who organise swim, run, bike and triathlon events for employees and the local community in the Neath Port Talbot area.
- Aberavon Quins RFC, (founded in 1891) who play in the WRU Division one West
- Aberavon Green Stars RFC
- Corus (Port Talbot) RFC
- Taibach RFC
- Neath Port Talbot Steelers, club who play in the Rugby League Conference
- Afan Lido F.C.
- Port Talbot Town F.C., compete in the League of Wales, and also the First Division Welsh Champions
- Goytre United F.C.
- Margam United F.C, based at the Saltings football field in Knights Road, Margam.
- Corus F.C., who play at home at the SCOW fields in Abbots Close
- Port Talbot Wheelers cycling club
Port Talbot has an array of higher level football. With two historically dominant football teams in the town (Port Talbot Town F.C. and Afan Lido F.C.), also Welsh Football League First Division high-flyers Goytre United F.C. are based just outside of Port Talbot. The town's nearest Welsh Premier League team is Neath Athletic A.F.C, which is located only a few miles away from Port Talbot. Llanelli A.F.C., Swansea City A.F.C. and Cardiff City F.C. are also large clubs which are in close vicinity of Port Talbot.
There are five comprehensive schools situated within the Port Talbot area:
- Cymmer Afan
- Dyffryn Comprehensive Lower (Taibach) and Upper (Margam)
- Glan Afan Comprehensive School
- Sandfields Comprehensive School
- St Joseph's Roman Catholic
A campus of Neath Port Talbot College is located in the Margam area. The Margam campus was previously called Afan College.
South Wales Miners' Museum 
Margam Stones Museum 
The nearby Margam Stones Museum has early Christian inscribed stones and Celtic crosses, including four from the area now under the Steelworks. A Roman milestone, an 8th century pillar, and two Celtic crosses from the 10th century were all rescued from the steelworks site by the Talbot family and taken to Margam, where they are now in the museum, in the care of Cadw.
Community Archives Wales, Port Talbot Historical Society 
The group is dedicated to the research and recording of local history and have published a number of books over the years. There is a core of 10 -15 active members who will be engaged in the Community Archives Wales project aiming to archive this information digitally.
In 2005 the area was granted its first radio station when Afan FM, the inspiration of a group of local young people headed by 19-year-old Craig Williams, was awarded a five-year licence by Ofcom to serve Port Talbot and neighbouring Neath. Afan FM transmitted on 107.9FM and online via its website. The station was based at a broadcasting centre housed within the AquaDome Leisure Complex on Aberavon Seafront but, following a December 2009 fire at the AquaDome, moved to Aberafan House, an office complex adjacent to the town's shopping centre. In late 2011 it was announced that Afan FM was to shut after an unexpected tax bill; it ceased live broadcasting at 2pm on 13 December 2011.
The area is also served by The Wave (96.4FM), Swansea Sound (1170MW), Nation Hits (102.1FM), Real Radio (106.0FM) and Nation Radio (107.3FM), all of which are available on DAB. Radio Phoenix also operates a 24 hour hospital radio service for the patients & staff of Neath Port Talbot Hospital in Baglan Moors.
The town is served by several newspapers. The Port Talbot Guardian was a weekly paper published by Media Wales, part of the Trinity Mirror group, but ceased publication in October 2009. The Swansea-based daily South Wales Evening Post and the weekly Courier and Tribune are also distributed in the town and are published by South West Wales Publications, part of the Northcliffe Media group.
The Port Talbot Magnet is a hyperlocal online website that publishes local news and events from the Neath and Port Talbot area.
The Passion in Port Talbot 
In April 2011, actor Michael Sheen led a 72-hour National Theatre Wales production of a modern retelling of The Passion. The play began at 0530 BST on Good Friday with a seafront scene, inspired by John the Baptist's baptism of Jesus, which was watched by hundreds who had heard about it by word of mouth.
By the time the first main part of the play was performed on Aberavon Beach at 1500 BST, organisers estimated up to 6,000 people had gathered to watch.
On Easter Sunday, the production returned to Aberavon Beach as part of the finale. A trial was performed on Civic Square before a procession from Station Road, with the final scene, "the cross", at Aberavon seafront. By the time the procession had reached the seafront close to where it had begun 72 hours earlier, organisers estimate over 13,000 people had come to watch on the small roundabout.
In April 2012, Michael Sheen returned to attend the world premiere of a two-hour feature-length film The Gospel of Us based on The Passion. The premiere was held at the Apollo Cinemas on the Aberavon seafront close to where The Passion took place. Tickets for the premiere sold out weeks before the showing; all six screens showed the film simultaneously. The film was also shown daily from Easter Sunday to the following Thursday prior to its UK-wide release the next day, 13 April 2012.
Port Talbot is served by the South Wales Main Line at Port Talbot Parkway railway station. There are local as well as direct intercity trains to Swansea, Cardiff, London and Manchester. Port Talbot bus station, located adjacent to the Aberafan Centre in the centre of the town is the main bus transport hub, it is a National Express stop. Local bus services are provided by First Cymru, South Wales Transport & Veolia Transport Cymru. The bus station's layout is very distinctive for the fact that buses always have to perform a 270° clockwise turn to exit the station. A Sustrans cycle route has recently been constructed at this bus station as part of the connect2 scheme connecting the Afan Valley with Aberavon beach.
The M4 motorway cuts through the town from southeast to northwest, crossing a central area on a concrete viaduct, junctions 38 to 41 serve Port Talbot, with junctions 40 and 41 being in the commercial heart of the town. This busy urban stretch of the M4, with tight bends, 2-lane carriageways, short narrow slip roads and concrete walls on both sides, was the first length of motorway in Wales when it opened to traffic in 1966. The road has a speed limit of 50 mph (80 km/h) enforced with a speed camera in the eastbound direction. The stretch through Port Talbot town centre is a particular traffic congestion blackspot and there have been calls to close the slip roads at junctions 40 and 41 to improve traffic flow. However some commuters oppose this plan since it would add more time to their journey. A new dual carriageway relief road, the Port Talbot Peripheral Distribution Road (PDR), is planned for completion in 2012. The new carriageway will serve as a distributor road to the southwest of Port Talbot, beginning at M4 Junction 38 ending near Junction 41.
The Port Talbot Docks complex consist of an inner set of floating docks and an outer tidal basin. Construction of the tidal basin began in 1964 and the whole basin covers about 500 acres (2.0 km2). The tidal basin is capable of handling ships of up to 170,000 dwt and is used mostly for the import of iron ore and coal for use by nearby Port Talbot Steelworks. The inner floating docks were constructed in 1898 and were closed in 1959. They were re-opened in 1998 for commercial shipping and in March 2007 for the import of some steel products and are capable of handling ships of up to 8,000 dwt. There have been proposals for the development of an intermodal freight terminal at the port.
Heavy industry is a visible feature of Port Talbot's economy. The coastal strip of the town features Port Talbot Steelworks, a large BOC Industrial Gases plant, a biomass power station and a gas-fired power station. Further power plants are being planned or commissioned: at Margam adjacent to the BOC plant, at Aberavon Beach sea front and a recently announced £60m project within Corus to utilise by-product gases.
On 20 November 2007, the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) granted consent for the world's largest biomass power station to be built at Port Talbot. This is expected to provide enough electricity (from wood from environmentally-managed forests, mostly in North America) to supply half the homes in Wales with electricity.
Potential future development currently centres around the peripheral distributor road to the south, Baglan Industrial Park and Baglan Energy Park to the west, Port Talbot Docks to the southwest, Margam Country Park to the east and the Afan Valley to the north. In March 2009 Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council announced a regeneration project for Port Talbot town centre and docks, with a masterplan for new homes, offices, light industry, retail developments and improvements to the railway station.
Socio-economic factors 
A recent local council research project into industry revealed that 37.4% of Port Talbot's workforce belong in the public sector, notably Health and Social Care, the county is expecting an economic downfall after the recent spending cuts were revealed under the new government. Port Talbot is also the site for Neath Port Talbot General Hospital, which houses a psychiatric ward and drug rehabilitation centre, including a Juvenile wing which provides temporary emergency care for 15-18 year olds lasting up to seven days before being placed in a secure psychiatric unit.
Blue Flag beach 
The beach area of the town has been improved and the council announced in 2008 it was awarded the Blue Flag beach status for water quality and beach facilities. The beach had retained this award every year, but it was lost in 2012. The beach area is also home to the largest sculpture in Wales; titled "Kite tail," it is 12 metres high and weighs 11 tonnes.
Notable people 
- William Abraham (1842–1922, b. Cwmafan), trade unionist and politician
- Martyn Ashton, British mountain bike trials former world champion and multiple British champion, lives in Port Talbot.
- Keith Barnes, Australian rugby league great was born in Port Talbot before emigrating aged 13.
- Robert Blythe, Welsh actor, was brought up in Tan y Groes Street. Played Fagin Hepplewhite in the BBC comedy High Hopes.
- Di Botcher, Welsh comedy actress
- Rob Brydon, actor and comedian was brought up in Baglan, Port Talbot.
- Richard Burton was born in Pontrhydyfen, Port Talbot as Richard Jenkins and had his early education in Port Talbot where he met his mentor, Philip H. Burton.
- Peg Entwistle, successful Broadway theatre actress whose 1932 suicide from atop the Hollywood sign in Los Angeles forever tagged her as "The Hollywood Sign Girl" was born at 5 Broad Street, Port Talbot on 5 February 1908.
- Professor Sir Christopher Evans, businessman, originally from Port Talbot, Wales,
- William Evans (1883–1968), writer
- Bernard Fox, actor, born Bernard Lawson.
- Rhod Gilbert, comedian, lives in Port Talbot
- J. Ivor Hanson, diarist and author who wrote about Port Talbot
- James Hook, rugby union player, current Perpignan and Wales fly-half
- Sir Anthony Hopkins, actor, was born and raised in Margam, Port Talbot.
- Geoffrey Howe was born in Port Talbot and spent his early years there. When he was made a life peer in 1992 he chose the title Baron Howe of Aberavon.
- Clive Jenkins (1926–1999), trade unionist.
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899–1981, b. Cardiff), Calvinistic Methodist minister who ministered Bethlehem Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Sandfields, Aberafan from 1926 to 1938 prior to teaching at Westminster Chapel in London.
- Michael Locke, aka 'Pancho' of TV series Dirty Sanchez, was born and brought up in Baglan, Port Talbot.
- Colin Pascoe, former Swansea City, Sunderland and Wales international.
- Dic Penderyn, was born as Richard Lewis in Aberavon in 1803, in the centre of what is now Port Talbot but before the town was named as such in 1840. He is buried at St. Mary's Church in the centre of the town. He was convicted of assault on an army soldier and executed.
- Paul Potts, an opera singer and the winner of Britain's Got Talent in 2007, lives in Port Talbot.
- Linda Sharp, champion surfer from Aberavon, won the European surfing championships twice, the British surfing championships ten times and the Welsh surfing championships 19 times
- Michael Sheen, Welsh actor was born in Newport but he was brought up in Port Talbot.
- Rhys Taylor, footballer born in Neath on 7 April 1990 who plays for Chelsea
- George Thomas, 1st Viscount Tonypandy was born in Tydraw Street, Port Talbot and was speaker in the House of Commons.
- Andrew Vicari, painter was born in Port Talbot.
- Freddie Williams, world speedway champion in the early 1950s was from Margam.
- Richard Winpenny, Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, The University of Manchester and director of The Photon Science Institute at the University of Manchester
- Captain Beany, celebrity charity fundraiser, and celebrity lookalike.
Sea rescue 
Port Talbot coastguard celebrated its centenary in 2008 with a proud history of rescues in the last 100 years. The crew are now the mud rescue team for the Swansea Bay area. Port Talbot Coastguard are one of the seven rescue teams that make up the Gower Sector.
Port Talbot also has an Inshore Lifeboat, which is part of the RNLI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Set about making sure the Inwater docks, Aberavon Beach and rivers along the route are safe.
Both sea rescue organisations, are opposite each other, and are used to working in partnership for effective beach and sea safety. 
See also 
- (1999) Collins Concise Dictionary, HarperCollins, Glasgow, ISBN 0-00-472257-4
- http://web.archive.org/web/20110603234154/http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/census2001/ks_ua_ew_part1.pdf archived version of http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/census2001/ks_ua_ew_part1.pdf
- John Davies, Nigel Jenkins, Menna Baines and Peredur I. Lynch, ed. (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 697.
- www.oceannavigator.com article link not accessible.
- AB Ports web page for Port Talbot
- Archive Network Wales: West Glamorgan Archive Service - Context
- legislation.gov.uk Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, County Boroughs
- www.southwalesguardian.co.uk: council details for Neath Port Talbot
- Port Talbot tops pollution chart. BBC News Monday, 28 February, 2005 "Across the UK, only Marylebone Road and Camden in London had higher levels, with readings of 43 and 35. The national average was 23.3." http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/4303811.stm
- Information on air quality in Port Talbot can be found on the air quality section of the www.npt.gov.uk/airquality NPT council website]
- Sign boards at the Margam Stones Museum, undated, viewed in the Museum in June 2012
- The Motorway Archive. M4 in Wales - Coryton to Baglan
- ‘End road chaos by closing M4 slip road’ - icWales
- walesonline.co.uk: Top award for new Port Talbot road (2008)
- www.coastguard.ukf.net: Port Talbot Coastguard Search and Rescue Emergency Team History
- www.neath-porttalbot.gov.uk: complete_lowquality.pdf
- Associated British Ports News: Port Talbot Docks Handles First Steel Cargo For Nearly Four Decades
- Associated British Ports: Port Facilities
- "£400M Wood Chip Plant Approved". BBC News. 21 November 2007. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- NPT CBC - Port Talbot Consultation
- www.neath-porttalbot.gov.uk: Blue Flag beach Press Releases - 22 May 2008
- www.thehollywoodsigngirl.com (Peg Entwistle)
- Steve England (July 2004). "Carve Greatest British Surfer poll". Surfers Village. Retrieved 15 February 2010.
- www.manchester.ac.uk (Richard Winpenny)
- www.psi.manchester.ac.uk (Richard Winpenny)
- Historical Port Talbot collection of historical photos, videos and documents of Aberavon / Port Talbot and districts
- Largest online collection of historical photos of Aberavon / Port Talbot
- BBC South West Wales: Port Talbot slide show tour
- Afan FM
- Port of Port Talbot
- Aerial photograph of Port Talbot town and docks
- www.geograph.co.uk : photos of Port Talbot and surrounding area
- Port Talbot 2006 (photographs of Port Talbot)
- Neath Port Talbot Council Web Site