Rheola Bridge, Porth
Porth shown within Rhondda Cynon Taf
|OS grid reference|
|Principal area||Rhondda Cynon Taf|
|Ceremonial county||Mid Glamorgan|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
Porth (Welsh: Y Porth) is a town and a community in the county borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf, within the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan, Wales, lying in the Rhondda Valley and is regarded as the gateway to the Rhondda Fawr and Rhondda Fach valleys because both valleys meet at Porth. The Welsh word "porth" means "gate" when translated into English, however, Porth is a predominantly English-speaking community.
Porth grew around the coal mining industry during the late 19th to mid 20th centuries though all the coal mines in the area have since closed. The Rhondda Heritage Park in Trehafod, which celebrates the history of the Rhondda coal mining past, is situated near the town.
Tynewydd Colliery disaster
On 11 April 1877 the Tynewydd Colliery Albert Medals for Lifesaving were awarded.- was the scene of a mine disaster that led to a notable mine rescue operation following which four first-class and twenty-one second-class
A build-up of water in old workings of the neighbouring Cymmer Colliery resulted in flooding of the Tynewydd mine. Only fourteen of approximately 100 miners employed at the mine were working underground at the time of the accident.
Four of the trapped miners were rescued after eighteen hours but a fifth, William Morgan, was crushed to death by an escape of compressed air. Four other miners were drowned. The remaining five (Daffyd Jenkins, Moses Powell, George Jenkins, John Thomas and the boy David Hughes) were located behind a thirty-eight yards thick barrier of coal with a large quantity of water and compressed air and probably gas behind it. It took four days to cut through the barrier until on 19 April only a few yards remained. At this stage operations were halted because there was a danger of pent-up water behind the barrier bursting through. In spite of this danger four, or alternatively five, of the rescuers volunteered to continue, according to some reports Daniel Thomas, Isaac Pride, John William Howell and William Beith. (There is some confusion over the number and names of the rescuers - Daniel Thomas, listed as one of those awarded the first-class medal, is referred to as owner of Brithweunydd Level, the Tynewydd colliery owner is reported to have been considered for but not awarded a first-class medal because of his impending trial on manslaughter charges of which he was acquitted, and Gwilym Thomas is seen in a photograph of "three of the rescuers" with Isaac Pride and Abraham "Abby" Dodd, see below). An escape of inflammable gas under pressure extinguished the rescue team's Davy lamps but they continued working in darkness. At 3.00 p.m. on 20 April the breakthrough occurred.
Because of the problems posed by the potential escape of air under pressure, the mine engineers erected stout air doors to contain any escaping air and gas and confine possible explosions. One was built within a yard of the face. Isaac Pride who volunteered to break through the barrier had to work within a very confined space. A blast of air was released as his pick broke through and threw him back against the air door, but he quickly set about enlarging the hole, assisted by "Abby" Dodd.
They found the five trapped miners too weak to stand. Between them Pride and Dodd pulled the five to safety as the water level rose.
It is claimed that "Abby" Dodd was not awarded an Albert Medal because of an interview he gave to a journalist criticising the colliery owners, at a time when there had been considerable conflict in the Welsh coal mines between miners and owners.
The Albert Medals awarded at Tynewydd were the first awarded for gallantry on land. The medal had been introduced a decade earlier to honour heroic lifesaving efforts in rescues at sea. The Albert Medal First Class awarded to William Beith can be seen as part of the permanent exhibition in the Coins and Medals Gallery at the National Museum of Wales in Cathays Park, Cardiff. William Beith was a mechanical engineer at Harris's Navigation Colliery, Quaker's Yard, Merthyr Tydfil.
Today the main internal economy of Porth is retail and the centre of Porth is home to the shopping district based around Hannah Street. Most other business are located on nearby Pontypridd Road and Porth Street. Presently, Porth is home to around 6,000 people living in different areas of the town, namely Birchgrove, Britannia, Cymmer, Glynfach, Llwyncelyn, Mount Pleasant and Porth town centre.
Secondary school age children are most likely to attend Porth County Community School, or Ysgol Gyfun Y Cymmer, situated in the Cymmer area of Porth. Despite the English language dominance of the area, the number of enrolments to Welsh language medium schools in the area continues to rise and these schools are nearing, or at, full capacity.
The recent construction of the Porth-Tylorstown bypass (Porth Relief Road) has caused traffic jams and detours. The bypass was opened on 28 December 2006 but landscaping work finished in April 2007. The construction of the bypass was first discussed over 50 years ago.
Sport and leisure
The town is also the home of The Pop Factory, opened in 2000 with an opening ceremony attended by Tom Jones, Cerys Matthews and Kelly Jones. It is both a television studio and recording studio. The owners of the building also contribute to the local area, and organised the Tom Jones homecoming concert at Ynysangharad Park, Pontypridd in May 2005.
Football Association of Wales affiliated A.F.C. Porth play in the Welsh Football League 1st Division|MacWhirter Welsh Football League; they play their home matches at Dinas Park and their base is Porth Harlequins club house.
Porth is home to South Wales Automobile Club, (S.W.A.C.), SWAC are the organisers of the Welsh Rally. 'The Welsh Rally' as the event is often referred to first ran in 1937 and has seen many top international rally drivers taking part over the years.
Residents of note
- Gregg Coombes, footballer
- Llew Edwards, British featherweight boxing champion
- J. Gwyn Griffiths, Egyptologist, poet and Welsh nationalist
- Cliff Jones Wales international rugby captain
- Percy Jones, World Boxing Flyweight champion
- Gwyn Thomas, novelist in the English language
- Porth Library
- Porth Harlequins RFC Homepage
- Photos of Porth and surrounding areas
- The Tynewydd Colliery Disaster by Judy Sopronyi, British Heritage magazine website, 12 June 2006, accessed 16 December 2010
- Article about the disaster with a photo of Tynewydd, 1877 at Welsh Coal Mines website accessed 16 December 2010
- 2001 Census: Census Area Statistics: National Statistics. UK government. Retrieved July 14, 2008.
- http://sites.google.com/site/minesrescuehistory/disasters-1800-to-1899/the-oaks-barnsley-1866/tynewydd-1877 "Heroes of Mine" website, accessed 15 December 2010
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00lbgqs BBC Radio 4 Making History 3 June 2009 (quoted from Gareth Williams My Tribute to the Rhondda at ), accessed 15 December 2010
- http://www.welshcoalmines.co.uk/GlamEast/Tynewydd.htm Welsh Coal Mines website, Tynewydd page, accessed 15 December 2010
- http://www.historynet.com/the-tynewydd-colliery-disaster.htm/3 The Tynewydd Colliery Disaster by Judy Sopronyi, British Heritage magazine website, 12 June 2006, accessed 16 December 2010
- "New Gallery Honours Rescue", Western Mail, 12 April 1990