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The village name means 'bridge over three rivers', as the River Dore, Dulas brook and another smaller stream (which descends via Dineterwood but appears to have no specific name) meet there. The main A465 road skirts the west of the village.
There has been a settlement in the area since at least 1086 when the hamlet was called Elwistone, possibly originating from the Welsh names Elwin or Helys. Over the centuries there have been several variations of name e.g. Ailstone and Heliston. The latter being the name of a terrace of houses in the modern day village.
The name Pontrilas originally only belonged to the manor house, once one of the homes of the Baskerville family, which sits beside the bridge over the River Dore, near where it meets the Dulas brook and another smaller stream. From 1750 the hamlet was also marked as Pontrilas on maps.
With the coming of the Newport, Abergavenny and Hereford Railway line in 1854. The line was sponsored by the London North Western Railway and merger with other lines took place in 1860 with the West Midland Railway which itself was taken over to eventually result in the Great Western Railway running the line from 1863. The later constructed the Golden Valley Railway line in 1881 the hamlet grew in importance and the line closed in 1898 before being again reopened in 1901 by the GWR. The village had a cattle market and a pub, The Pontrilas Inn built by the Scudamore family, who still own a lot of land in the area. The pub was burned down in the 1970s. There was also a chemical factory owned by Wrekin Chemical Co beside the main railway line to the north of the village.
Since the closing of the station in 1958 the village has declined in importance, though it does still boast an auction room and a number of businesses including Pontrilas Timber which has been there since 1947, an estate agency and a number of other smaller businesses. The former World War II Elm Bridge munitions depot is now the site of the Qinetiq managed Pontrilas Army Training Area.
- "X4 Cardiff Pontypridd Merthyr Brynmawr Abergavenny Hereford" (pdf). Stagecoach South Wales. 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-16.
- "National Express Coach service NX321". National Express Coaches. 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-16.
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