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Tonypandy Square in 2007.jpg
Tonypandy Square
Tonypandy is located in Rhondda Cynon Taf
 Tonypandy shown within Rhondda Cynon Taf
Population 3,750 (2011)[1]
OS grid reference SS995925
Principal area Rhondda Cynon Taf
Ceremonial county Mid Glamorgan
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district CF40
Dialling code 01443
Police South Wales
Fire South Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament Rhondda
List of places
Rhondda Cynon Taf

Coordinates: 51°37′20″N 3°27′04″W / 51.622325°N 3.451203°W / 51.622325; -3.451203

Tonypandy /tɒnəˈpændi/ is a town in the county borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf, within the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan, Wales, lying in the Rhondda Fawr Valley. A former industrial coal mining town, today Tonypandy is best known as the site of the Tonypandy Riots.


Pre-industrial history[edit]

The Tonypandy area contains several prehistoric sites, the main one being Mynydd y Gelli. Located to the north-west of the town, the remains of an Iron Age settlement Hen Dre'r Gelli lies on the slopes of Mynydd Y Gelli hill between Tonypandy and Gelli. Near the same location are several Bronze Age cairns.[2]

Tonypandy is also the site of one of the only two permanent Middle Ages fortifications found within the Rhondda Valley. Named Ynysygrug, it was a lesser motte and bailey earthwork defence. The fortification appears to have consisted of a wooden tower surrounded by a small fortified courtyard.[3] Placed around the 12th or early 13th century, the remains of the fortification were mostly destroyed when the town's railway was constructed in the 19th century. Over the past two hundred years, the fortification had been wrongly thought to be the burial place of Rhys ap Tewdwr or a druidic worship site.[3]

The regional library service recounts that the name 'Tonypandy' means the meadow of the fulling mill which was established there in 1838. "E. D. Lewis in his work The Rhondda Valleys provides us with an outline history of the mill that once stood in Tonypandy, and from which the town took its name".[4]

Industrial era[edit]

In the mid-19th century, the Rhondda began its industrial transformation after the successful excavation of coal. With the extension of the Taff Vale Railway to Treherbert and Maerdy in 1856, the Rhondda grew as absentee landlords switched their interests from farming to mining. Tonypandy, unlike the surrounding villages, grew as a financial and social hub, providing services and amenities for the neighbouring communities.


It is one of the principal shopping areas in the Rhondda. A 30,000 sq ft (2,800 m2) Asda has recently opened on the site of the old Scotch Colliery, creating 300 jobs.

The town is served by Tonypandy railway station.

Sports and recreation[edit]

In the early part of the 20th century, Tonypandy was home to Mid-Rhondda RLFC, one of the first Welsh rugby league teams.[5] Although surviving only one season, the club transformed into Mid-Rhondda AFC, one of the most notable association football teams the Rhondda has produced. Both Mid-Rhondda teams played at the Athletic Ground, now named King George's Field, after King George V. The pitch is notable as having hosted the very first international match between the Wales and England rugby league teams on 20 April 1908.[6] It was also used as the opening venue for the 1908–09 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain, when the visiting Australian rugby league team began its campaign with a match against Mid-Rhondda.[7]

With the collapse of Mid-Rhondda RLFC in 1909, the committee refocused on creating an association football team. In 1912 Mid Rhondda F.C. was formed, winning the South League Second Division in 1919/20.

Notable people[edit]

  • Boxer Tommy Farr, the "Tonypandy Terror", trained there, living in adjoining Clydach Vale
  • Brothers Donald Houston and Glyn Houston - both were actors
  • Willie Llewellyn, Welsh national rugby captain and three times Triple Crown winner
  • George Thomas, 1st Viscount Tonypandy, former secretary of state for Wales and speaker of the House of Commons, was educated at Tonypandy Secondary Grammar School.[8]
  • Rhys Davies (9 November 1901 – 21 August 1978) (born Vivian Rees Davies) was a Welsh novelist and short story writer, who wrote in the English language.
  • Sophie Evans, runner up on BBC programme 'Over the Rainbow' and Dorothy in Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'The Wizard of Oz' at the London Palladium.
  • Len Rawle (born 1938), organist and organ builder/restorer



  1. ^ "Town population 2011". Retrieved 17 November 2015. 
  2. ^ Davis (1989), pg 14.
  3. ^ a b Davis (1989), pg 26.
  4. ^ Heritage trail (Tonypandy) Rhondda Cynon Taf Library Service
  5. ^ Lush, Peter; Farrar, Dave (1998). Tries in the Valley: A History of Rugby League in Wales. London: London League Publications. pp. 31–32. ISBN 0-9526064-3-7. 
  6. ^ Gate, Robert (1986). Gone North: Volume 1. Ripponden: R.E. Gate. p. 141. ISBN 0-9511190-0-1. 
  7. ^ Sean Fagan Kangaroo Tour: 1908-1909 (2006) at website
  8. ^ Mention in Parliament noted in Winston Churchill (grandson) at Telegraph (UK), 2 March 2010