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.

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