History and Heritage

- Introduction by Val Trevallion

I came to this valley three decades ago and obviously there have been some changes. Some buildings having been demolished some have been built but there is a difference from living in a city like Birmingham or London. Here within the valley walls one can almost merge with Mother Nature. To climb to the top of the Darren or the Alltygrug mountain I have often sat and imagined the scenes being played out down below over the last 200 years. I first read of its industrial past in the pages of John Henry Davies's Book of 1967 'History of Pontardawe and District'. This led to a further two years of twice a week spent in the Swansea Archives researching any and everything of this area and a year in the Library at Neath pouring over past newspapers.

An area's history is too large a topic for in depth study and thus ten years ago I decided to concentrate on one aspect that I believed was showing signs of neglect. Many headstones told of a past we no longer can envisage, 'Barge man'- 'Engine Driver' - 'Quarry Man' - 'Tin Worker' and although after the 1986 Pantteg landslide we had to leave Pantteg for Ystalyfera I knew Pantteg and Holy Trinity was the starting place for collecting data.

Yeargroup came about after I discovered some family graves held the names of the Fallen. Within the walls of the Royal British Legion many ex-servicemen helped me by explaining military details that I had no knowledge of. Eventually 12 of us formed a group hence Ystalyfera Electronic Archive Research group and we began collecting data and photographs. Sadly in 2007 Noel Watkin a valued member and friend passed away, and when Mr. Aneurin Griffiths in 2009 and then Mr. Brynmor Jonathan passed away, my 'Group' was down to just two.

Today I continue Yeargroup in memory of the 10 who held the same thoughts and beliefs that history should be remembered not only for its achievements but for its people, the very people that came to this valley, had their children and worked hard and long to form part of our past so that we could have a future.

The history and heritage of Ystalyfera is put online by Swansea Valley researcher Val Trevallion and Wolfian Design. All copyright remains with the original copyright holder, and all original research is copyright Val Trevallion, YEARGroup.

You can contact Ystalyfera History by emailing: contact@ystradgynlais-history.co.uk or Val Trevallion by emailing yeargroup@hotmail.co.uk.


Ystalyfera County School
Public subscriptions towards the Ystalyfera School Building Fund were first received in 1891 and the Glamorgan Scheme received the Royal Assent in May 1896. Ystalyfera Country School was officially opened on 20th October 1896.

  Commercial History
As an industrial town, Ystalyfera was a thriving commercial hub in the late 19th and first half of the 20th century. We feature sections devoted to local stores, railways, health centres, public houses, cinema, and recreation.

History Articles
Ystalyfera History features many historical articles especially written and researched by local historian Val Trevallion, including on floods, murder, changes to the town, and storm damage.

  Church in Wales
Ystalyfera was previously part of the parish of Llangiwg. As it grew in size, it gained a church of its own at Holy Trinity, and later Saint David's Church, which remains the parish church to today.

Chapels of Ystalyfera
Ystalyfera had many chapels from across Non-Conformist traditions, including English Congregational, Baptist, and Methodist. Our website has major sections on several of these including Pantteg, the English Con, Zoar and Wern.

  Interesting Lives
Rather than 'famous' or 'remarkable', we have dedicated a section of our website to 'Interesting Lives' of Ystalyfera, highlighting a selection of people whose personal stories help to tell the story of the town and district.

Cemeteries of Ystalyfera
The cemeteries of Ystalyfera covers Holy Trinity Cemetery, Pantteg Chapel Cemetery, Alltygrug Cemetery and the adjacent Ystalyfera New Cemetery, as well as Godregraig Cemetery.
  Parks and Recreation
The parks of Ystalyfera were largely the gift of local landowners, including bequests by Colonel Fleming Gough of Ynyscedwyn House. We also look at the lost open air swimming pool of Ystalyfera.