Ystradgynlais

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Ystradgynlais
Ystradgynlais Town, Junction.jpg
Ystradgynlais in 2008
Ystradgynlais is located in Powys
Ystradgynlais
Ystradgynlais
 Ystradgynlais shown within Powys
Population 10,248 [1]
OS grid reference SN793106
Community Ystradgynlais
Principal area Powys
Ceremonial county Powys
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town SWANSEA
Postcode district SA9
Dialling code 01639
Police Dyfed-Powys
Fire Mid and West Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament Brecon & Radnorshire
List of places
UK
Wales
Powys

Coordinates: 51°46′52″N 3°45′04″W / 51.78101°N 3.75107°W / 51.78101; -3.75107

Ystradgynlais (Welsh: [ˌəsdradˈɡənlais], English /ˌʌstrədˈɡʌnls/)[2] is a town on the River Tawe in south west Powys, Wales. The town, which is the second largest in Powys, grew around the ironmaking, coal mining and watchmaking industries.

History[edit]

Up until the mid 18th century most of the Swansea Valley was thickly wooded and sparsely populated. The placename Ystradgynlais, meaning 'vale of the river Cynlais' - Cynlais may be a personal name, or derive from cyn ('chisel') and glais ('stream') - is first recorded in 1372.[3]

In the 1600s there were only a couple of houses by the church and a pub (now the rectory). In 1801 there were only 993 residents in Ystradgynlais living in only 196 houses. The first documented written evidence of iron working in the area was at Ynyscedwyn and is of a deed of release dated 1729. By 1750 there were only 7 furnaces in south Wales, one of which was at Ynyscedwyn.

The first written evidence of coal workings in the area was in 1780 in Wauclawdd. Most of the coal dug up in the area was sent to the blast furnaces of the iron works. By 1790 the full extent of the mineral resources in the valley were better known and it was realised that to exploit these to the full, improved transport would be essential. A bill was passed in 1793, which allowed the construction of the Swansea Canal. This means of transport remained the only mode of transport for 60 years.

The greatest increase in population was from 1821-41 which coincides with the coming of George Crane and the development of the Ynyscedwyn ironworks. By 1870 however the area's industrial development was in decline due to various economic factors. Although coal mining carried on in the area a few light industries have replaced the heavy industries.

Culture[edit]

Parc yr Orsedd, Ystradgynlais

Ystradgynlais is one of the few areas within old Brecknockshire, which has a high proportion of Welsh-speakers, indeed, according to the 2001 census, over half of all the Welsh-speakers within Brecknock district live in Ystradgynlais itself.

Ystradgynlais hosted the 1954 National Eisteddfod, an annual Welsh festival of literature, dance, and music. The century-old award-winning Ystradgynlais Public Band competed in the 2005 National Eisteddfod.[4]

Ystradgynlais's Parc-yr-Orsedd has a monument to the fallen heroes of both World Wars from Ystradgynlais, Abercrave, Cwmtwrch, Cwmgiedd, Glyntawe and Coelbren.

Dan yr Ogof caves are a short journey from the town centre, passing Craig-y-Nos Castle and Henrhyd Waterfall. The caves are reputed to have once been the hideout of folk figure Twm Siôn Cati.[5]

Ysgol Maesydderwen is the town's secondary school. Ystradgynlais is also home to the Miners Welfare Hall, now known and promoted as 'The Welfare', which plays host to a cinema. It also has a number of traditional pubs.

Transport[edit]

National Cycle Route 43 passes by the southern edge of the town on the line of the former Swansea Vale Railway which linked Swansea via the Neath and Brecon Railway at Coelbren with Brecon. The A4067 road formerly ran through the town but was diverted in the 1970s onto a bypass route which largely follows the line of the former Swansea Canal.

Notable people[edit]

Tudor Thomas (1893-1976) was born in Ystradgynlais. Thomas was an early specialist in corneal grafting; he managed to bring sight to a man who had been blind for 27 years. He was knighted in 1955.

Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury grew up in Ystradgynlais.

Caerwyn Roderick Member of Parliament for Brecon and Radnor, 1970–79, was born in the town.

The Polish painter Josef Herman spent 11 years living and painting in Ystradgynlais.[6]

It is the hometown of the actress Eve Myles who has starred in Torchwood, Frankie and Belonging.

Grownups actor Steve Meo attended Maesydderwen Comprehensive School in the town.

Composer Daniel Protheroe was born in Ystradgynlais and lived there prior to emigrating to Scranton, Pennsylvania.

It is the home of Ystradgynlais F.C. and Ystradgynlais RFC. Ystradgynlais RFC was established in 1890; they hold a fierce rivalry with Ystalyfera RFC and Abercrave RFC. Players who represented their countries whilst playing for Ystradgynlais and notable players: Vernon Cooper, Anthony Buchanan, Steve Bayliss representing Wales; Jonny Koloi for Tonga, and Stan Wright for the Cook Islands.

Prison reform campaigner Ben Gunn (born 1965) grew up in the town.[7]

Watchmaking[edit]

In 1946, Smiths Industries Ltd, Ingersoll Ltd and Vickers Armstrong founded the Anglo-Celtic Watch Co. Ltd., which produced watches on the Ynyscedwyn estate on the outskirts of Ystradgynlais. The factory was officially opened by Huw Dalton on 15 March 1947. Vickers Armstrong sold their shares to the other two companies in 1948. The Anglo-Celtic Watch Co. became one of the largest producers of watches in Europe, producing up to 1.25 million watches a year.[8] The factory closed in 1980.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ 2011 Census
  2. ^ Longman Pronunciation Dictionary. 3rd Ed.
  3. ^ Wyn Owen, Hywel; Richard Morgan (2007). Dictionary of the Place-Names of Wales. Llandysul: Gomer Press. p. 504. 
  4. ^ Welcome - The National Eisteddfod of Wales
  5. ^ Ash, Russell (1973). Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain. Reader's Digest Association Limited. p. 409. ISBN 9780340165973. 
  6. ^ Sonia Williams
  7. ^ Hughes, Brendan (2012-10-28). "The childhood killer on falling in love with his prison teacher - Wales Online". Wales Online. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  8. ^ Time, Time and Time Again. Author: Geoffrey Evans. Published by: Quinto Press Ltd. ISBN 978-1-905960-07-1
  9. ^ The Anglo-Celtic Watch Co. Ltd.

External links[edit]