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Brynmawr (//; Welsh: [brɨnˈmaur], from Welsh 'big hill', 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.
Famous Bubblegum-Pop singer Marina Diamandis is notable for being born in Brynmawr.
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.
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.
Brynmawr has an estimated population of over 6,000 people. At the 2001 Census 5.75% of the 16–65 age group spoke Welsh, but the proportion of children (ages 3–15) able to speak Welsh was much higher at 30.54%. 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.
Commerce and local economy
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 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
Parc Nant y Waun is a nature reserve incorporating 22 hectares (54 acres) of grassland, mires and reservoirs which was officially opened in 2007. Home to many wildlife species, it includes a picnic area, an outdoor classroom, and an angling club.
Sport and leisure
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. As of 1 April 2017 the Market Hall Cinema has been closed since November 2016 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, "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. T Rowley Jones, President Welsh Rugby Union, 1977/78.
- "Ward/Community population 2011". Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- 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)
- (PDF) https://web.archive.org/web/20090205122606/http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/census2001/Report_on_the_Welsh_language.pdf. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 February 2009. Retrieved 30 August 2008. Missing or empty
- Opening of Parc Nant y Waun Archived 12 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
- Angling Club[permanent dead link]
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Brynmawr.|
|Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Brynmawr .|