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Tongwynlais village small.jpg
Tongwynlais Village Square
Tongwynlais is located in Cardiff
Location within Cardiff
OS grid referenceST136819
Principal area
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townCARDIFF
Postcode districtCF15q
Dialling code029
PoliceSouth Wales
FireSouth Wales
EU ParliamentWales
UK Parliament
Welsh Assembly
List of places
51°31′51″N 3°14′56″W / 51.5307°N 3.2490°W / 51.5307; -3.2490Coordinates: 51°31′51″N 3°14′56″W / 51.5307°N 3.2490°W / 51.5307; -3.2490

Tongwynlais is a village and community in the north of Cardiff, Wales, north of the M4 motorway in the Taff Valley. It is notable as the location of the hillside landmark, Castell Coch.


Tongwynlais is believed[who?] to have obtained its name from the word ton (plural tonnau) meaning ley land, i.e. pasture, grassland or unploughed land, and Gwynlais, the name of a local family, thus "pasture of Gwynlais". (See also Tonna.)


Tongwynlais lies in the River Taff Valley. Its population was 1946 at the 2001 census.[1]

Tongwynlais is located near Junction 32 of the M4 motorway, east of Bridgend and west of Newport, and the A470 trunk road. It is situated 5 miles (8 km) north of Cardiff city centre and 7 miles (11 km) south of Pontypridd. The surrounding towns and villages are Pentyrch and Radyr to the west, Taffs Well and Caerphilly to the north, and Rhiwbina and Whitchurch to the south. Tongwynlais became part of Cardiff In 1974 when Cardiff expanded northwestwards.

Many consider Tongwynlais as the entrance to the South Wales Valleys from Cardiff,[citation needed] with its famous landmark, Castell Coch, on a hillside. The main route to the Valleys, and beyond to Mid Wales, the A470, runs alongside the village. To the north of the village is a forest of about 100 hectares or 250 acres called Fforest Fawr, which is run by the Forestry Commission. Tongwynlais is separated from the rest of Cardiff by the M4 and the A470 to the south and west and hills and forestry to the east. Tongwynlais is considered to be part of the Cardiff North Rural Area.

Tongwynlais is home to two pubs, several shops, a football club, a rugby club, a 9-hole golf course, and Tongwynlais Library.

The Taff Trail cycle route passes through the village,[2] and it is a popular resting point between sections.

The Cardiff Railway once ran through Tongwynlais. It passed through a tunnel just beneath Castell Coch. Tongwynlais railway station opened in 1911 and closed in 1931. The nearest station on the Coryton Line is Coryton railway station. Radyr railway station is also nearby.


National Assembly
Tongwynlais is in the Cardiff North constituency for the National Assembly for Wales, currently represented by Julie Morgan AM, a member of the Welsh Labour Party.
Houses of Parliament
Cardiff North is currently represented by Anna McMorrin MP, a member of the Labour Party.
Local Government
Tongwynlais is part of the Whitchurch & Tongwynlais electoral ward of Cardiff City Council and is represented by 4 councillors all of the Conservative Party. In addition, Tongwynlais is also governed by a community council.

Castell Coch[edit]

Castell Coch in 2018

Tongwynlais' most notable building is the Victorian era folly castle called Castell Coch English: Red Castle which is open to the public. It was built on top of the ruins of a 13th century castle thought to belong to Ifor Bach, a local Welsh ruler.[3][4] It was rebuilt and transformed in the late 1870s into a fantasy castle by William Burges for the 3rd Marquess of Bute.

Places of worship[edit]

There is a parish church and two Nonconformist chapels still open to worshippers in the village:[citation needed]

There were once two other chapels in the village (both Nonconformist), which have since closed and been converted into private residences.


The band RocketGoldStar wrote a song about the village, recording it on their 1996 album.[5] They recorded it for a BBC Radio 1 Maida Vale Session.[citation needed] Tongwynlais Brass Band has been in existence since the 19th century and continues to compete in national competitions as well as performing concerts.[citation needed] Castell Coch Choral Society also does a lot of charitable work and has recently performed in the Czech Republic.[citation needed]

The Welsh glam metal band Tigertailz named a song on Disc 1 of their Thrill Pistol album "Tongwynlais Fly".



  1. ^ "2001 Census for Tongwynlais". Retrieved 2008-06-10.
  2. ^ Lon Las Cymru - south. Sustrans. 2003. ISBN 1-901389-40-5.
  3. ^ Cambrian Archaeological Association (1859). Archaeologia Cambrensis. W. Pickering. p. 113.
  4. ^ Archaeologia Cambrensis Digitalised. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
  5. ^ "A History of Rocketgoldstar's "Tongwynlais"". 8 September 2014. Retrieved 15 November 2014.

Hutton, J. An Illustrated History of Cardiff Docks. Volume 3: The Cardiff Railway Company and the docks at war. Silver Link 2009

External links[edit]