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Pontypridd is situated 12 miles north of Cardiff along the A470, which is the main road through Wales, North to South. The name may come from a contraction of Pont-y-ty-pridd, bridge of the earthen house in Welsh, or the Welsh for "bridge of earth", since in earlier centuries, people took advantage of the shallowness of the river Taff here to cross it. Pontypridd marks the confluence of the rivers Taff and Rhondda and at the junction of the Cardiff to Rhondda and Merthyr railway lines and thus has a fascinating historical and cultural background.

The development of Treforest and Pontypridd as commercial centres began with the opening in 1795 of the 25 mile long Glamorganshire canal, between Cardiff docks and Merthyr. At the same time, William Crawshay opened a new forge and nail works and coal was discovered by Dr. Richard Griffiths in Gyfeillion in 1790. Another new industry which thrived with the excellent transport now available was the original Newbridge Chain Cable and Anchor Works founded in 1818 - now Brown Lenox. Later, collieries were opened in the areas of Graig, Hopkinstown, Trehafod and Cilfynydd.

Treforest, with Francis Crawshay's tin works and Roland Fothergill's rail works became important. Francis Crawshay lived in Forest House now part of the site of the new University of Glamorgan and Roland Fothergill in Hensol Castle. Rhydyfelin and Upper Boat both grew because of the connection with the canal.

Evan James and his son James James lived in Ty'r Factory, next to their cloth factory - and they composed the words and music of the Welsh National Anthem 'Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau'. A commemorative plaque marks the site of the factory and statues, representing Poetry and Music designed by the architect Sir Goscombe John were unveiled in 1930 in Ynysangharad Park.

Mill Street derived its name from various mills in the vicinity, such as the Rhondda Flour Mill. An important landmark in Mill Street is the stone railway viaduct, the work of Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Taff Vale Railway. Nearby St. Catherine's Church with its fine spire was built in 1868, the Town Hall and Market Buildings in 1885, the Public Library and the Town Hall Theatre in 1890, and in 1905 the Municipal Building with its fine Council Chamber. In the middle of town is a charming Victorian Fountain erected in 1895 for Sir Alfred Thomas MP, who later became Lord Pontypridd.

Many of the old buildings in Pontypridd are decorated with fine stonework and constructed mainly from locally quarried stone. One quarry - the Graig Yr Hesg Quarry - is still producing the distinctive blue pennant stone, which, with its granite-like hardness, will ensure that many of our best buildings will survive for many years to come.

"Ponty" as it's known to the locals, is famous for its old bridge, which was, when built, the longest single spanning bridge in the world. The bridge, built in 1750 by William Edwards (a self taught mason) was so long (45m / 140 feet span) that it took three attempts to get it right. The first, a wooden bridge was washed away by floods, the second, of stone, collapsed during construction because of its weight.

The third design was also stone, but much lighter because it had 6 large holes in it.. 3 on each side, of diameter 9,6 and 3 feet. Edwards was paid 50 pounds to maintain it for seven years. In 1857, a three-arch bridge was built alongside to make it easier for traffic to cross the river (the old bridge was a bit too steep).

A market has stood on the site of the present Market since 1805. The present Market was built in the late 1870's following the incorporation of the Pontypridd Markets Company. In spite of the savage economic decline experienced by Pontypridd and the Valleys in the 1920's and 1930's, the Market has survived in very much its original format. The Market Company is proud to have resisted the temptation for wholesale development, opting instead for gradual refurbishment of the original buildings, thereby retaining both Indoor and Outdoor Markets in their traditional style.

Since 1985, the Market has undergone considerable change. Colourful Coster Barrows are now a feature. The Lesser Town Hall (now known as the Clothes Market) was refurbished and opened as a Market Hall in 1988, and the Outdoor Market was extended in 1988 onto a site adjoining Church Street and St. Catherine's Street.

One of the town's treasures lies to the east side of the River Taff - Ynysangharad Park. It was opened in 1923 as a War Memorial for the town, and purchased by public subscription. It is an area of extensive and beautiful parkland with avenues of mature trees and colourful flower gardens as well as many amenities, although Pontypridd still doesn’t have an indoor swimming pool, much to the locals anger.

There are other attractions though: miniature golf, tennis courts, a children's play area, bowling greens, a band stand and an open air paddling pool. Local bands play on a Sunday at the bandstand.

Pontypridd Common from which there are fine views over the town is a natural open space on which can be seen many glacial boulders remaining from the Ice Age. One boulder, known as the Rocking Stone, is the central point for the Druid's Circle of smaller stones which was constructed in the 19th Century by Dr. William Price (the famous pioneer of cremation) and other like minded men who performed druidic rites there. Above the Common, towards Glyntaff, are the white washed Round Houses erected by Dr. Price who, with his colourful dress, long hair and cap of a whole fox's skin, was one of the great characters of Pontypridd. He is best remembered for cremating the body of his 5 month old son in 1884. He was brought to trial at the Glamorgan Assizes, and the case established the legality of cremation.

Situated centrally near the Old Bridge, the Pontypridd Historical Centre offers the visitor a comprehensive glimpse into the historical and cultural past of the area. The Centre is housed in the former Tabernacl Chapel built in 1861 and magnificently refurbished in 1910.

Since ceasing as a place of worship in 1983 and being taken over by the Town Council, the building has been restored. The ceiling, pulpit and organ are wonderful examples of the best chapel interiors.

Within 3-4 miles of the town there used to be half a dozen or so coal mines, all of which have since closed. Coal used to pass through Pontypridd en-route to Cardiff; initially by road, then by canal, then by rail. Sadly, you're more likely to see coal being transported up the valleys instead of down. The Glamorganshire canal has long since vanished, with only a few lock gates visible along a section of the Taff Trail.

Pontypridd has produced many fine singers, although none are really from the town - Tom Jones is from Treforest, Sir Geraint Evans and Stuart Burrows are both from Cilfynydd. Pontypridd RFC are currently near the top of the Premier League of Wales. Of special interest to rugby fans, Pontypridd is home to the internationally known Grogg Shop, owned by John Hughes. The man who has made a fortune out of selling lumps of concrete - amazing!

Adapted from the history at the Ponty Town Online web site.


Pontypridd Family Connections

John and Harriet Gould and their children Ernest William, George Henry, Lilian and Louisa Jane arrived in Pontypridd on the weekend of 8/9th October 1887. Precise dating is possible because of the dates provided by the admissions books of the Kingsbrompton and Coedpenmaen (Pontypridd) schools.

Daughter Rosa Maria did not appear to have accompanied the rest of the family in the move but stayed with her grand-parents in Kingsbrompton to complete her education there.

It is possible that John spent some time in South Wales looking for work prior to the family move but no evidence exists to support this theory. At this time (1887) work was relatively easy to find because of the development of the mines around Pontypridd and John could have found work at any of these in the two years which followed their move.

Two years after arriving in Wales, Harriet gave birth to their sixth child Elizabeth in Pontypridd on 13 October 1889.

Family stories suggest that John was amongst the first, in 1889, to work on the sinking of the shafts of the colliery at Navigation. (It has been suggested that John was part of the opening ceremony and that he "cut the first sod". Whilst it is possible that he prepared the cutting it is well documented that the lady who "cut the first sod" in the ceremony was a relative of the owner of the mine). Navigation (later to be known as Abercynon) was a small hamlet close to Pontypridd and within walking distance of the area in which the family were thought to be living at that time (Coedpenmaen Rd).

At the age of 39, John became a father again for the last time. The birth of a daughter Edith Laura on 18 January 1891, places the family at Evans Houses, Pontypridd. (Evans' Houses is thought to have been an early name for what became Coedpenmaen Rd). The birth was registered by Harriet on 28 February 1891 and the certificate identifies that John was working as a sinker.

The 1891 census places all of the family other than Rosa at 34 Coedpenmaen Road, Pontypridd. John is recorded as aged 38 (he was actually 39) and still working as a sinker. Rosa remains unaccounted for at this time. An interesting note arising out of the 1891 census is that 12 year old Ernest William was working as a fishmonger's assistant at this time.

Living at the same address were coal miners, Isaac and George Carter who are recorded as lodgers, perhaps taken in to support the cost of raising such a large family.

Looking at the house today, it is hard to imagine that a family of eight and two lodgers could live together in such a small cottage. It was, however, common practice at that time to take in lodgers.

The sinking of Navigation shafts and the development of the mine lasted until around 1895 and would have provided John with a secure, if arduous and dangerous, job. Eighteen men are known to have lost their lives in a single incident during the sinking operations. An undated photograph exists which shows John in the typical working clothes of a SINKER or SHAFT WORKER.

Family stories maintain that John and Harriet separated. Evidence from the electoral registers suggest the break up may have occurred as early as 1895 as John appeared to move houses several times between 1895 and 1900.




34 Coedpenmaen Rd


West Terrace, Pontypridd


4 West Terrace, Pontypridd


Not Found


2 Bonvilston Rd, Pontypridd


Cottage, Merthyr Rd, Pontypridd


Bronhaulog Villas, Abercynon


Bronhaulog Villas, Abercynon


1 Walter St, Abercynon


45 Catherine St, Abercynon




94 Berw Rd, Pontypridd


The absence of Harriet's and the children's names in any of the above registers does not in itself indicate that Harriet and the family were not moving with John; women were not given the vote until 1928 and neither Ernest William or George Henry were old enough to vote. It is thought unlikely however, that John and Harriet would have moved their young family so frequently in such a short space of time. It is more likely that John left or was asked to leave the family home.

At this stage it is convenient to assume that the John Gould family story moved to Abercynon (renamed from Navigation in 1893).