Brynmawr

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Brynmawr
Brynmawr market square - geograph.org.uk - 688053.jpg
Market Square and Market Hall Cinema
Brynmawr is located in Blaenau Gwent
Brynmawr
Brynmawr
Location within Blaenau Gwent
Population5,530 (2011)[1]
OS grid referenceSO185115
Principal area
Ceremonial county
CountryWales
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townEBBW VALE
Postcode districtNP23
Dialling code01495
PoliceGwent
FireSouth Wales
AmbulanceWelsh
UK Parliament
Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament
List of places
UK
Wales
Blaenau Gwent
51°47′46″N 3°10′59″W / 51.796°N 3.183°W / 51.796; -3.183Coordinates: 51°47′46″N 3°10′59″W / 51.796°N 3.183°W / 51.796; -3.183
Until 1963 there was a railway station which had been opened a hundred years before by the London and North Western Railway.

Brynmawr (/brɪnˈmaʊər/; Welsh: [brɨnˈmaur], from Welsh 'big hill',[2]) is a market town, community and electoral ward in Blaenau Gwent, Wales. The town, sometimes cited as the highest town in Wales, is situated at 1,250 to 1,500 feet (380 to 460 m) above sea level at the head of the South Wales Valleys. It grew with the development of the coal mining and iron industries in the early 19th century. Until the reorganisation of local authorities in 1974, Brynmawr was administered as part of the county of Brecknockshire.

Welsh language[edit]

According to the 2011 Census, 6.0% of the ward's 5,530 (332 residents) resident-population can speak, read, and write Welsh.[3] This is above the county's figure of 5.5% of 67,348 (3,705 residents) who can speak, read, and write Welsh.[4] The town had the only Welsh-medium primary school, Ysgol Gymraeg Brynmawr, in Blaenau Gwent with 310 pupils ranging from nursery to year 6 until 2010, when the school re-located to a brand new, purpose-built building in Blaina.

History[edit]

Prior to the Industrial Revolution and the founding of Brynmawr, a settlement called Gwaun Helygen (meaning ‘marsh of the willows’) sat on a small area of moorland on the border between the counties of Monmouthshire and Brecknockshire. The village consisted of only a few scattered farm houses, a slew of small tram roads that led to the surrounding coal deposits, a staging inn, and a turnpike road from Abergavenny to Merthyr Tydfil which crossed through the bleak upland plateau.

With the development of Nantyglo ironworks under Crawshay Bailey in the early 19th century, suitable housing was needed for the workers, and thus the area of upland home to Gwaun Helygen was chosen as an ideal area for a settlement. Houses began to spring up around the tram roads and the turnpike road, and the town began to rapidly grow. Although the settlement was not home to any heavy industry, and was for the most part a dormitory town, several above-ground ore deposits outside of town were worked on, and a few underground levels were eventually dug beneath Brynmawr.

The Semtex Boiler House in 2011

However, by as early as the 1870s, many of the resources that were once considered abundant had been exhausted, and the local industry began to decline. As the town's residents practically solely relied on the surrounding industries, many of them left the town in search of employment, and Brynmawr witnessed a sharp drop in population.

The town's market hall, now the Market Hall Cinema was built in 1894, and replaced the older town hall built in 1844.

By the time of the Great Depression, most of the town's insured population were unemployed, which attracted the attention of a group of Quakers, whose worked in the town to relieve unemployment culminated in the Brynmawr Experiment.

In 1952, Jim Forrester of Enfield Cables Ltd opened a factory in the town, which was eventually acquired by the Dunlop Rubber Company. Operating under the brand name of Dunlop Semtex Ltd, the factory produced flooring for the health and education sectors up until its closure in 1981. It was demolished in 2001, and now only the boiler house remains, albeit in a derelict state.

Population[edit]

Brynmawr had an estimated population of 5,568 in 2020.[5] In 2011, 10% of the population were unemployed.

Commerce and local economy[edit]

Beaufort Street, the town's main street

The town centre's primary shopping areas are contained within Beaufort Street and on Market Square which is also the focal point of the town where many events are hosted. The former Market Hall is now a cinema and theatre presenting films and productions from the local amateur operatic society. The business community offers many traditional, family-orientated and independently run shops, such as Tutta Bella, Durbans Shoe repairs, Perfectday Bridal, Pebbles and Welch Designs and many more. The Tabor Centre, situated in Davies Street, is a multi-purpose community venue with rooms available for hire. Brynmawr is also home to many artisan food producers, such as the award-winning Miss Daisy's Kitchen, specialist vegan and gluten-free food producers Daddies Little Pickle, and the Little Dragon Pizza Van, who organise the annual Brynmawr Street Food Festival.

Places of interest[edit]

Parc Nant y Waun is a nature reserve incorporating 22 hectares (54 acres) of grassland, mires and reservoirs which was officially opened in 2007.[6] Home to many wildlife species, it includes a picnic area, an outdoor classroom, and an angling club.[7]

Sport and leisure[edit]

Heavy frost at the park, December 2008

Brynmawr RFC is the local rugby union club which is affiliated to the Newport Gwent Dragons. Brynmawr has a 350-seat cinema (The Market Hall Cinema) which is the longest continually running cinema in Wales. The Market Hall opened in 1893 and has recently been renovated. From November 2016 and throughout early 2017, the Market Hall Cinema had been closed after Blaenau Gwent Council conducted a series of asbestos tests in the building. The Market Hall was successfully reopened by Hollywood star Michael Sheen on 12 July 2017.

Notable people include professional wrestlers Adrian Street and Flash Morgan Webster, singer-songwriters Huw and Tony Williams and indie pop singer-songwriter Marina Diamandis, known professionally as MARINA. Wales and Great Britain Rugby League international Roy Francis, who scored 229 tries in 356 top-flight matches and went on to win three National League titles and the 1968 Challenge Cup as a coach of Hull FC and Leeds, was born in the town and played for Brynmawr RFC.[8] T Rowley Jones, President Welsh Rugby Union, 1977/78.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ward/Community population 2011". Retrieved 6 November 2015.
  2. ^ Note: the name is preferably spelt in Welsh with a hyphen Bryn-mawr, according to the recommendations in Rhestr o Enwau Lleoedd ("A Gazetteer of Welsh Place-Names") by Elwyn Davies, University of Wales Press, 1967)
  3. ^ Welsh language skills by electoral division, 2011 Census Retrieved 13/12/21
  4. ^ Welsh language skills by electoral division, 2011 Census Retrieved 13/12/21
  5. ^ "Brynmawr (Community, United Kingdom) - Population Statistics, Charts, Map and Location". www.citypopulation.de. Retrieved 26 February 2022.
  6. ^ Opening of Parc Nant y Waun Archived 12 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Angling Club[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "So who was Roy Francis? | A Squidge Rugby Deep Dive". YouTube.

External links[edit]