Aberdare History & Culture

Aberdare has a rich history which dates back to the twelfth century. In the nineteenth century the town grew into a prosperous suburban area and trade centre. This was to serve the population boom caused by the mines and the growth of iron working in the area.

Aberdare Canal

The canal was vital to industry in the nineteenth century. It played a key role in ensuring the industry of the area could transport Coal and Iron to the docks in Cardiff during the industrial revolution.

Gadlys Ironworks

Now the home to Cynon Valley Museum and Gallery, the Ironworks in Gadlys opened in 1827. For further information visit:

Aberdare Map

For a map of Aberdare in 1868 click here.

The map links to the following areas of interest in Aberdare.

  • Churches
  • High Street
  • Aberdare Constitutional Club
  • Canon Street
  • Commercial Street
  • Victoria Square
  • Cardiff Street
  • Green Fach

Cwm Dare (Dare Valley)

The village of Cwmdare was built in the 1850's to house the workers of the mines in the valley. Before this, Dare Valley had been home to just a few farmhouses and small holdings.

The Coal Industry in Cwmdare

Coal mining in Cwmdare (Dare Valley) is recorded from 1851 but it is thought that some mining had taken place before that. There were four main collieries in the valley:

  • Cwmdare Colliery
  • Merthyr Dare Colliery
  • Nantmelin Colliery
  • Bwllfa Dare Colliery

Railways in Dare Valley

Two railways served Cwmdare. The Vale of Neath Railway was a part of the Great Western Railway and reached Bwllfa in 1857. It crossed two timber viaducts built by Isombard Kingdom Brunel. The second line opened in 1866 and followed the River Dare from Aberdare. This line was operated by the Taff Vale Railway. Both lines were adapted for use as roads or paths into Dare Valley Country Park.

Dare Valley Country Park

Work to reclaim the valley floor in Dare Valley began in 1971. Coal tips were removed, the River Dare was re-routed and two lakes were created. Dare Valley Country Park was opened in 1973 and now features a visitor centre, camping and caravanning, walks and a diverse range of flora and fauna.

For further information on the history of Dare Valley and Cwmdare, visit the Rhondda Cynon Taf Heritage Trail here.

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