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Welsh: Morgannwg

Ancient extent of Glamorgan
 - 1861 547,494 acres (2,215.63 km2)[1]
 - 1911 518,865 acres (2,099.77 km2)[2]
 - 1961 523,253 acres (2,117.53 km2)[2]
 - 1861 326,254[1]
 - 1911 1,120,910[2]
 - 1961 1,229,728[2]
 - 1861 1.7/acre
 - 1911 2.2/acre
 - 1961 2.4/acre
 - Succeeded by West Glamorgan
Mid Glamorgan
South Glamorgan
Chapman code GLA
Government Glamorgan County Council (1889–1974)
 - HQ Cardiff
 - Motto A Ddioddefws A Orfu (He Who suffered, conquered)[3][4]

Glamorgan or, sometimes, Glamorganshire (county borough.

Although initially a rural and pastoral area of little value, the area that became known as Glamorgan was a conflict point between the

The county of Glamorgan comprised several distinct regions: the industrial valleys, the agricultural Cardiff, the county town and from 1955 the capital city of Wales, and Swansea. The highest point in the county is Craig y Llyn (600 metres (2,000 ft)) which is situated near the village of Rhigos in the Cynon Valley.


  • History 1
    • Origins 1.1
    • Morgannwg 1.2
      • History AD 500–1080 1.2.1
      • Buildings of note, 500–1080 1.2.2
    • Lordship of Glamorgan 1.3
      • History, 1080–1536 1.3.1
      • Buildings of note, 1080–1536 1.3.2
    • County of Glamorgan 1.4
      • History 1536–1750 1.4.1
      • Buildings of note, 1536–1750 1.4.2
      • Industrial Glamorgan, 1750–1920 1.4.3
        • Metals industry
        • Coal industry
        • Agriculture
      • Buildings of note 1750–1920 1.4.4
      • Late-period Glamorgan, 1920–1974 1.4.5
      • Buildings and structures of note, 1920–1974 1.4.6
  • Geography 2
    • Coastline 2.1
    • Rivers 2.2
  • Administration 3
  • Transport 4
    • Roads 4.1
    • Waterways and ports 4.2
    • Rail 4.3
    • Airports 4.4
  • Culture and recreation 5
    • Sport in Glamorgan 5.1
    • Tourism 5.2
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9
  • External links 10



Glamorgan's terrain has been inhabited by humankind for over 200,000 years. Climate fluctuation caused the formation, disappearance, and reformation of glaciers which, in turn, caused sea levels to rise and fall. At various times life has flourished, at others the area is likely to have been completely uninhabitable. Evidence of the presence of Neanderthals has been discovered on the Gower Peninsula. Whether they remained in the area during periods of extreme cold is unclear. Sea levels have been 150 metres (490 ft) lower and 8 metres (26 ft) higher than at present, resulting in significant changes to the coastline during this period.[6][7][8]

Archaeological evidence shows that humans settled in the area during an interstadial period. The oldest known human burial in Great Britain – the Red Lady of Paviland – was discovered in a coastal cave between Port Eynon and Rhossili, on the Gower Peninsula. The 'lady' has been radiocarbon dated to c. 29,000 years before present (BP) – during the Late Pleistocene – at which time the cave overlooked an area of plain, some miles from the sea.[8][9]

From the end of the last ice age (between 12,000 and 10,000 BP) Mesolithic hunter-gatherers began to migrate to the British Peninsula – through Doggerland – from the European mainland. Archaeologist Stephen Aldhouse-Green notes that while Wales has a "multitude" of Mesolithic sites, their settlements were "focused on the coastal plains", the uplands were "exploited only by specialist hunting groups".[6][10][11]

Front view of a dolmen. Its massive capstone is supported by standing stones to either side, with another (triangular) supporting stone at the rear – like a doorless closet. The rear orthostat has a small round hole near the middle top. The dolmen is set in an open, sloping (higher–left, lower–right) meadow of uncut grass, with trees to the rear in the middle distance.
St Lythans burial chamber
a Vale of Glamorgan

Human lifestyles in Bronze Age.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]

The wheel; harnessing oxen; weaving textiles; brewing alcohol; and skillful metalworking (producing new weapons and tools, and fine gold decoration and jewellery, such as brooches and torcs) – changed people's everyday lives during this period. Deforestation continued to the more remote areas as a warmer climate allowed the cultivation even of upland areas.
Map of Wales showing the names of Celtic British tribes in their territories
Tribes of Wales at the time of the Roman invasion
(The modern border with England is also shown)

By 4000 BP people had begun to bury, or cremate their dead in individual cists, beneath a mound of earth known as a round barrow; sometimes with a distinctive style of finely decorated pottery – like those at Llanharry (discovered 1929) and at Llandaff (1991) – that gave rise to the Early Bronze Age being described as Beaker culture. From c. 3350 BP, a worsening climate began to make agriculture unsustainable in upland areas. The resulting population pressures appear to have led to conflict. Hill forts began to be built from the Late Bronze Age (and throughout the Iron Age (3150–1900 BP)) and the amount and quality of weapons increased noticeably – along the regionally distinctive tribal lines of the Iron Age.[15][21][22][23][24]

Archaeological evidence from two sites in Glamorgan shows Bronze Age practices and settlements continued into the Iron Age. Finds from roundhouses.[29][30][31][31][32][33][34]

Many other settlements of the Silures were neither hill forts nor castles. For example, the 3.2-hectare (8-acre) fort established by the Romans near the mouth of the River Taff in 75 CE (Common Era), in what would become Cardiff, was built over an extensive settlement established by the Silures in the 50s CE.[35]


History AD 500–1080

The region originated as an independent petty kingdom named Normans and was frequently the scene of fighting between the Marcher Lords and Welsh princes.[38]

Buildings of note, 500–1080

The earliest buildings of note included earthwork dykes and rudimentary motte-and-bailey hillside defences. All that remains of these fortifications are foundations that leave archaeological evidence of their existence, though many were built upon to create more permanent defensive structures. The earliest surviving structures within the region are early stone monuments, waypoints and grave markers dating between the 5th and 7th century, with many being moved from their original position to sheltered locations for protection.[39] The most notable of the early stone markers still in its original place is on a high mountain ridge at Gelligaer.[39] Of the later plaitwork patterned standing crosses the finest and best preserved is the 9th century 'Houelt' stone at Llantwit Major.[40]

Lordship of Glamorgan

History, 1080–1536


  • Glamorgan Record Office
  • Glamorgan Family History Society

External links

  • Clark, George C., ed. (1890). Cartae et Alia Munimenta quae ad Dominium de Glamorgan Pertinent (1348–1721) II. Cardiff: Priv. Print. 
  • Clark, George C., ed. (1890). Cartae et Alia Munimenta quae ad Dominium de Glamorgan Pertinent (441–1300) III. Cardiff: Priv. Print. 

Further reading

  • Conduit, Brian (1997). Brecon Beacons and Glamorgan Walks. Pathfinder Guide. Norwich: Jarrold Publishing and Ordnance Survey.  
  • Davies, John; Jenkins, Nigel (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.  
  • Evans, C. J. O. (1948). Glamorgan, its History and Topography. Cardiff: William Lewis. 
  • Evans, D. Gareth (1989). A history of Wales 1815–1906. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.  
  • Jenkins, Philip (1992). A History of Modern Wales 1536–1990. Harlow: Longman.  
  • Lewis, E. D. (1959). The Rhondda Valleys. London: Phoenix House. 
  • Newman, John (1995). Glamorgan. London: Penguin Group.  
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. (1960). "Democratic Politics in Glamorgan, 1884-1914". Morgannwg 4: 5–27. 
  • Morgan, Kenneth (1982). Rebirth of a Nation: Wales 1880–1980. Oxford: Oxford University Press.  
  • Thomas, Norman Lewis (1966). The Story of Swansea's Districts and Villages. Neath: The Guardian Press (Neath) Ltd. 
  • Wade, J. H. (1914). Glamorganshire. London: Cambridge University Press. 


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  40. ^ Newman (1995), p. 38
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  60. ^ History of Pontypridd Rhondda Cynon Taf Library services
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  105. ^ "Laws in Wales Act 1535". Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
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  115. ^ a b c "The history of motorway development in Wales". The Motorway Archive Trust. Retrieved 3 January 2010. 
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  118. ^ a b Evans (1948) p.35
  119. ^ Rebecca Riots - Both the villages of Llangyfelach and Pontarddulais are villages near Swansea in Glamorgan
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  148. ^ a b c d Davies (2008), p.875


  • List of Lord Lieutenants of Glamorgan
  • List of Custodes Rotulorum of Glamorgan
  • List of High Sheriffs of Glamorgan
  • Glamorgan (UK Parliament constituency)
  • Glamorgan County Cricket Club
  • University of Glamorgan
  • Glamorgan Bird Club

See also

As the 20th century progressed, and people's leisure activities extended beyond a once-a-year weeks holiday, the county responded with county parks, museums, art galleries and activity centres.

[148] By the mid 20th century these locations improved the number of visitors they could accommodate with the introduction of caravan parks and chalet parks.[148], Porthcawl, Aberavon and Mumbles, owed their existence as tourist locations to the development of the south Wales coal field and the introduction of the workers' annual holidays.Barry Island These towns, most notably [148] Glamorgan, and Wales, were never exploited as a tourist destination until the late 18th century. The destination of choice for English gentlemen during the period was the


Of all the individual sports, arguably Percy Jones (World Flyweight Champion), Tom Thomas (British Middleweight Champion), Jimmy Wilde (World Flyweight Champion) and Tommy Farr (Empire Heavyweight Champion) ; Merthyr's Eddie Thomas (European Welterweight Champion) and Howard Winstone (European Featherweight Champion); Pontypridd's Freddie Welsh (World Lightweight Champion) and Frank Moody (Empire Middleweight Champion). From Cardiff came 'Peerless' Jim Driscoll (British Featherweight Champion) and Jack Petersen (British Heavyweight Champion). Other fighter of note include Dai Dower (European Flyweight Champion) from Abercynon and Bill Beynon (Empire Bantamweight Champion) from Taibach.

As well as rugby and cricket, Swansea Town F.C. (formed 1912)[145] and Cardiff City (formed 1899 as Riverside AFC). Both clubs played in the English football league system, rather than the Welsh leagues, though Cardiff were more successful during this period, spending 15 seasons in the First Division and winning the FA Cup in 1927.[146] Other teams of note include Merthyr Tydfil F.C. (1945), who have won the Welsh Cup on three occasions.

One of the most popular sports in Glamorgan was rugby league teams emerged in the early 1900s; and on 1 January 1908, the first true international rugby league game took place in Aberdare between Wales and New Zealand.[144]

Freddie Welsh, one of several World title boxing Champions to come from Glamorgan

Sport was an important part of life in Glamorgan, and the county produced several individuals and teams of note. One of the first recorded team sports in Wales was baseball, which was very popular in Cardiff, reaching its peak in the 1930s.[142]

Sport in Glamorgan

Culture and recreation

Glamorgan was served by several airports and airfields, with Avro Tudor crashed at Llandow Aerodrome. The Llandow air disaster was, at the time, the world's worst aviation disaster.[140]


In the 20th century, the railways saw a gradual drop in usage as the heavy industrial works and mines began to reduce output and close and many stations became redundant. Following the Second World War, the railways were nationalised in 1948. In the 1960s the main line services in Wales underwent dieselisation, but this modernisation failed to save the rail system and by 1968 many passenger lines were discontinued by the Beeching Axe.

Towards the turn of the 19th century, two notable events occurred connected to the Taff Vale Railway. In 1888, the Barry Railway Company was formed as part of David Davies' plan to create an alternative export port in south Wales at Barry Docks. As a threat to the monopoly of the TVR, the plans were heavily contested in Parliament, and more parliamentary time was spent on the Barry bill than on any other railway bill in British history.[138] The second event saw the Taff Vale Railway Strike of 1900, an event that saw the House of Lords, in the Taff Vale Case, deem trade unions accountable for the financial losses caused by strike action. The need to reverse the decision was a central factor in the creation of the British Labour Party.[138]

The first railway network to be built in Glamorgan, the Loughor, before continuing through Carmarthenshire. Other railway lines that opened during the mid to late 19th century included the Vale of Neath Railway, the Swansea Vale Railway and the Rhymney Railway; all designed with the primary purpose of transporting metals and coal from the uplands of the county to the ever expanding ports. The cargo carried on these lines was of a very high volume, and in 1850 the Taff Vale Railway was transporting 600,000 tons of coal per annum.

allowing the first viable transport link from the Rhondda coal fields to the ports of Cardiff. [137],Dinas Rhondda's mine at Walter Coffin The Gyfeillion site was extended further in 1811 to link [136] In 1809 [135] Before the use of locomotives, railway track was used at various stages of the canal system to link locations to which the waterways could not reach. These wagons on these tramlines would be pulled by horse over wooden rails, which later were replaced by wrought iron.


The Milford Haven.

The Barry. In 1881, Barry had 484 inhabitants, after an 1884 Parliamentary Act authorising the construction of a docks and railway link, the town grew to over 27,000 by 1901.[133] The chief advocate of Barry's growth as a dock was David Davies, and in 1901 Barry was exporting more coal than Cardiff, peaking in 1913 when it shipped 11.41 million tons.[133]

The event that changed the face of coastal Glamorgan was the growth of the Merthyr iron industry. Merthyr needed a coastal export point for its iron and Cardiff was the obvious choice being at the mouth of the River Taff.[128] A road was built to connect the two towns, but with only horses to move the cargo, transportation was cumbersome; therefore an alternative was planned. Although Glamorgan had a large number of rivers, few were navigable for any considerable length.[130] Between 1790 and 1794, Acts of Parliament were obtained for the construction of three canals within Glamorgan, the Richard Trevithick's "Pen-y-Darren" locomotive became the first engine to pull a load along rails;[131] heralding the coming of the railways, which would eventually replace the canals.

Due to Glamorgan's long coastline, several settlements grew and prospered as harbour and port towns. In 1801, Swansea was Glamorgan's largest urban area with a population five times that of Cardiff's.[127] Cowbridge was the capital town of the Vale, and the centre of agricultural trade, with surplus stock being shipped to the coastal village of Aberthaw[128] and to a lesser extent Newton.[129] Where there were breaks in the rocky coastline, small fishing and cockling communities existed, such as Port Eynon and Penclawdd.

Waterways and ports

Proposals for a high-quality new road across South Wales were first made in the 1930s. However, the Pont Abraham in Carmarthenshire.[124] The 1960s also saw the construction of the first road across the Heads of the Valleys, with the A465 Neath-Abergavenny trunk road opening in 1964.[116][125] However, even at the outset there were complaints about the capacity and safety of its single carriageway, three-lane design.[126]

[115] In 1756, after the shire of Glamorgan had come under the rule of the crown, Wales adopted a toll system for the maintenance of the roads; with the governance falling under the control of the

[116] An Act of 1555 required each landowner to produce a cart, horses or bullocks, and two men to work 4 days on roads. Supervision was by two unpaid surveyors appointed by the parish. By the late 1600s the situation improved as surveyors were appointed by the magistrates, who were allowed to levy a rate to pay for some of the work.[117] Towards Tudor times the upkeep and repair of the roads came under the administration of each parish, with six days of the week during the summer allowed for track repairs. These repairs were rarely completed and the roadways continued to suffer.[117] With continual use the tracks widened to allow different forms of travel, including the use by pack horses; and as the tracks became more recognisable the first primitive roads came into being. The [114] The earliest forms of transport within Glamorgan were mere paths or trackways linking one settlement to another.



[113] Under the

The first chairman of the County Council was Henry VIII. The crest above the shield was a Welsh dragon rising from flames, symbolising the revival of the county's industry following a period of economic depression. The dragon supported a flag bearing a clarion from the arms of the De Granville family, lords of Neath. The supporters of the arms were a coalminer and a steel worker. The motto adopted by the county council: A Ddioddefws A Orfu or "He Who suffered, conquered" was that of the lineage of Iestyn ap Gwrgant, and was considered appropriate to an area whose wealth depended on great hardship.[3][4]

[111] An administrative county of

[109] Although most of these seats now had the working-class electorate in a majority they were safe for the Liberals as long as the labour element remained in the Liberal fold.[108] The next major redistribution of MPs occurred with the

, was returned as senior member for Merthyr, an important watershed in Welsh political history. Henry Richard As a result, the nonconformist radical, [107] From the 1790s a call was made for parliamentary reform to address the imbalance between the number of Members of Parliament for each Welsh county and the population each seat represented.

In 1536, the High Sheriff of Glamorgan.

and continued throughout the history of the county of Glamorgan, and through to modern times. [45] After the fall of the Welsh kingdom of Morgannwg to

Administrative map of the County of Glamorgan in 1947


The major rivers of Glamorgan include the Taff, the Ely, the Ogmore, the Neath, Dulais, the Tawe, the Rhymney (which forms the historic boundary with Monmouthshire), and the Loughor (which forms the historic boundary with Carmarthenshire).


Worm's Head is one of the stand out features of the Glamorgan coastline, a long narrow ledge of limestone, projecting into the sea, ending in a 200 foot high wedge shaped crag;[103] the Head takes its name from its resemblance to a dragon.[103] On the northern side of the Worm's Head is the village and Bay of Rhossili, a westerly facing bay that leads backwards to a series of downs, some of the highest land in the Gower.[104] Rhossili Bay ends in the northern formation of Llangenydd Burrows and the islet of salt marshes which stretch to the mouth of the River Loughor.[104] The Loughor forming the border between Glamorgan and Carmarthenshire.

At The Mumbles, the coastline begins its third phase, commencing the wild and rugged cliffs of the Gower. From Mumbles Head to Worm's Head, 20 miles to the west, the coast consists of a series of precipitous cliffs, interrupted by a number of sandy bays. The most notable of the bays include Langland Bay, Caswell Bay, Pwlldu Bay, Three Cliffs Bay and Oxwich Bay. Three Cliffs Bay and the adjoining Oxwich Bay are overlooked by three medieval defences, Pennard Castle, Penrice Castle and Oxwich Castle, all three now ruinous. Oxwich Bay ends in the large wooded promontory of Oxwich Point,[103] which leads west to the beach front villages of Horton and Port Eynon. From Port Eynon Point, a five mile stretch of wild and impressive cliffs[103] leads to Worm's Head and the western termination of the peninsula. This rock face is pierced in places by caverns, the most notable being Culver Hole[103] a bone cave near Port Eynon Point.

The River Afan commences the wide sweep of River Neath, which is protected by long breakwaters.[100] The second is the Tawe, the central river of Swansea. Beyond the Tawe the bay sweeps for six miles before reaching Mumbles Head, its most westerly point.[102] Mumbles Head is served by Mumbles Lighthouse, which sits on the further of two small islands off the head.

The coastline remains as steep cliffs until after Dunraven Head, where the cliff face drops away to expose Aberavon, a settlement built on the banks of the River Afan. To the west of the mouth of the Afan is the new district of Sandfields, built over the holiday dunes of Aberavon beach in the 1950s to house the workforce of Port Talbot Steelworks.[101]

Worm's Head
Mumbles Bay
Southerndown Beach

From Lavernock Point the coast heads sharply west to the town of Barry, a well known seaside resort, Barry is most notable for its rapid expansion during the late 19th century to become an important dock, at one stage surpassing Cardiff Dock for the tonnage of coal exported. Passing the cliffs of Barry Island the coastline becomes a low-lying promontory called the Lays,[98] which continues west taking in the villages of Rhoose and Aberthaw before reaching Breaksea Point, the most southerly point of mainland Wales. Beyond the point is Limpert Bay, which is overlooked by the village of Gileston and the ancient encampment of Summerhouse Point. Here the cliffs rise and run for eleven miles as far as the estuary of the Ogmore.[98] Along this run of cliffs the coast passes Llantwit Major and St Donats, before heading in a rough north west direction at Nash Point.[98]

Flat Holm is the most southerly point of Glamorgan and Wales. [97], an island which although geographically is within the Vale, is administered as part of the city of Cardiff.Flat Holm South easterly from Lavernock Point, roughly three miles out in the Channel Estuary is [96].Bristol Channel, hidden from vessels travelling up the Lavernock Point Here the coast stretches southwards for two and a half miles from Penarth Head to [94] From the east the first major coastline feature is the

[94] The coastline of Glamorgan stretches for 88 miles from

Nash Point
Cardiff Docks c. 1900


Further west is Swansea Bay and the Gower Peninsula, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.[92] Of all the areas, Gower was the least affected by heavy industry and the ancient landscape was the least impaired.[90] The high ground that runs centrally through the Gower was largely uncultivated common land and its beaches and rocky coastal headlands showed little signs of the tourist trade[90] that played an increasing role on the local economy. The major settlements of the region include Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot.

The northern part of the county is a mountainous area, dissected by deep narrow valleys. At the southern edge of the Brecon Beacons, the simple geological structure of Old Red Sandstone gives way to Carboniferous rocks; limestone, shales and millstone grit.[89] In the 19th century, industrial and population growth in the coal-bearing valleys of the Rhymney, Taff, Dare and Rhondda gave rise to a form of urbanisation characterised as ribbon development. The last deep mine, Tower Colliery at Hirwaun, closed in January 2008.[91] A few small drift mines like Unity Mine (formerly Pentreclwydau South) near Glynneath remain. Towns in the region included Aberdare, Caerphilly, Pontypridd, Maesteg, Merthyr Tydfil and Mountain Ash.

A Victorian map of Glamorgan

Glamorgan divides into three distinct and contrasting geographical areas. To the south east is a gently undulating limestone Barry, Bridgend, Cowbridge, Penarth and Porthcawl.


The demands of modern living saw the growth of housing estates throughout Glamorgan, moving away from the Victorian terrace of Cardiff or the ribbon cottages of the valleys. Several of these projects were failures architecturally and socially. Of note were the Billybanks estate in Penarth and Penrhys Estate (Alex Robertson, Peter Francis & Partners) in the Rhondda, both described by Malcolm Parry, the former Head of the School of Architecture at Cardiff University, as "...the worst examples of architecture and planning in Wales."[88]

Another hospital to which Functionalism was applied was the University Hospital of Wales (S.W. Milburn & Partners). Begun in the 1960s, and completed in 1971, the building is the third largest hospital in the United Kingdom and the largest in Wales.[86] It was designed to bring the care of patients, research and medical teaching together under one roof.[87]

Although functionality often deprived a building of interest, Sully Hospital (Pite, Son & Fairweather) is an example of a building which gained from its functional requirements. Initially built for tubercular patients, whose cure required the maximum amount of light and air,[85] the Functional architecture left a striking[83] glass fronted building, completed in 1936.

Sully Hospital, now luxury apartments

Despite entering a fallow period of architectural design, several structures of note did emerge. Although work began in 1911, The National Museum of Wales (Smith and Brewer) was not completed until 1927 due to the First World War. Designed to reflect sympathetically in dimensions with its neighbouring city hall, the dome-topped museum combines many architectural motifs with Doric columns at its facade, while internally a large entrance hall with stairs, landings and balconies. Percy Thomas' Guildhall in Swansea, an example of the 'stripped modernist' style completed in 1936, was described as "Wales' finest interwar building".[84]

After the First World War, Glamorgan, as was typical for Britain as a whole, entered a period of modernity, which saw buildings built and designed for functionality rather than splendour with period features watered down.[83] As the century progressed, symbols of the past industrial period were torn down and replaced with industrial estates populated by unadorned geometric factories. With concrete becoming the favourite post-war building material, larger office blocks began appearing within the cities, though few were of any architectural significance.

Buildings and structures of note, 1920–1974

With the outbreak of World War II the coalfields of Glamorgan saw a sharp rise in trade and employment. Despite the demand the want for the youth to conscript in the war effort in the valley areas meant that there was a shortage of workers to run the mines; this in turn saw the introduction of the Bevin Boys, workers conscripted to work in the mines. During the war both Cardiff and Swansea were targets for German air attacks due to their important docks.

[82] Glamorgan suffered disproportionately during the Great Depression because of the high proportion of its workforce employed in

[80]. The smaller companies progressively disappeared.Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds and Powell Duffryn Steel production was no less depressed than the coal industry. The inter-war years saw the closure of the old Cyfarthfa and Dowlais works, as steel-making became increasingly concentrated in the coastal belt. Both the coal and steel industries were increasingly dominated by large amalgamations, such as [79] This was a contrast with relatively recent prosperity: for example, in 1913 unemployment in Merthyr was below 2 per cent and the borough had 24,000 miners. By 1921, the number of employed miners had fallen to 16,000, and in 1934, it was down to 8,000.[78] These structural problems were followed by the

After the First World War, there was an initial drop in coal and iron production, there was still enough demand to push the coalfields to their limits, helped by events such as the American coal miners' strike. Cardiff Docks reached an exporting peak in 1923, but soon production fell and unemployment in the upland valleys began to increase at a dramatic rate.[76] Between April 1924 and August 1925 the unemployment rate amongst South Wales miners jumped from 1.8% to 28.5%.[76] Several factors came together to cause this collapse, including the over-valuation of sterling, the end of the coal subsidy, the growth of electric power,[77] the adoption of oil as the fuel of choice for many industries, and over-expansion of the mines in the late nineteenth century.[76] The Welsh coal owners had failed to invest mechanisation during the good years, and by the 1930s the South Wales Coalfield had the lowest productivity, highest production costs and smallest profits of all Britain's coal-producing regions.[77]

Late-period Glamorgan, 1920–1974

Industrial architecture tended to be functional, although some structures, such as the four-storey engine house at winding towers - originally made of timber or cast iron, later steel - became symbolic icons.[73]

The majority of Nonconformist chapels were built in the 19th century. They progressed from simple, single-storey designs to larger and more elaborate structures, most built in the classical style.[73] Perhaps the most ambitious chapel was John Humphrey's Morriston Tabernacle (1872), incorporating Classical, Romanesque and Gothic elements,[74] which has been called the 'Noncomformist Cathedral of Wales'.[75]

In 1897, Cardiff Corporation acquired land from the Cathays Park was developed into "possibly the finest... civic centre in Britain" with a range of public buildings including the Baroque City Hall and the rococo-style University College.[72]

As well as the architecture of Glamorgan entering modernity, there was also a reflection to the past, with some individuals who made the most from the booming industrial economy restoring symbols of the past, building follies and commissioning Gothic-style additions to ancient churches. Robert Lugar's Cyfarthfa Castle in Merthyr (1825) and the late 19th century additions to Cardiff Castle, designed by William Burges, exemplify how Gothic was the favoured style for rich industrialists and entrepreneurs.[71] Greek Revival architecture, popularised in France and Germany in the late 18th century, was used for a number of public and educational buildings in Wales including the Royal Institution of South Wales in Swansea (1841) and Bridgend Town Hall (1843).[71]

The industrial period of Glamorgan saw a massive building program throughout the uplands and in the coastal regions, reflecting the increasing population and the need for new cheap housing to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of workers coming into the area. As the towns urbanised and the hamlets became villages, the trappings of modern life were reflected in the buildings required to sustain new and growing communities. The period saw the appearance, not only of the works and pits themselves, but of the terrace house or miners cottage, railway stations, hospitals, churches, chapels, bridges, viaducts, stadiums, schools, universities, museums and workingmen's halls.

Buildings of note 1750–1920

[70] bred on the commons.Welsh Ponies while the unenclosed wilds of the Gower saw [48] and pastoral land was less work intensive. Stock rearing became prominent with breeds such as [48] in an age before refrigeration. Secondly there was an employment shortage in farming due to the call of better paid industrial work,[48] There were two main factors behind this trend; firstly the increase in the population of the county required more milk and other dairy produce,[48] In Glamorgan, from the late 19th century, there was a significant reduction away from arable land towards pasture land.[48] Until the beginning of the 18th century, Glamorgan was almost entirely agriculture based. With the industrialisation of the county, farming became of far less importance, with industrial areas encroaching into farming lands.


[69] Much of this population growth was driven by [68] Along with the increase in coal production came a very large increase in the population, as people emigrated to the area to seek employment. In Aberdare the population grew from 6,471 in 1841 to 32,299 in 1851 while the Rhondda grew from 3,035 in 1861 to 55,632 in 1881, peaking in 1921 at 162,729.

The richest source for steam coal was the Rhondda Valleys, and by 1856 the Taff Vale Railway had reached the heads of both valleys. Over the next fifty years the Rhondda would grow to become the largest producer of coal of the age. In 1874, the Rhondda produced 2.13 million tons of coal, which rose to 5.8 million tons by 1884.[67] The coal now produced in Glamorgan far exceeded the interior demand, and in the later half of the 19th century the area became a mass exporter for its product. In the 1890s the docks of South Wales accounted for 38 percent of British coal exports and a quarter of global trade.[67]

and its production increased to meet the demand. [67] The 1840s saw the start of a dramatic increase in the amount of coal excavated within Glamorgan. Several events took place to precipitate the growth in coal mining, including the discovery of steam coal in the

Lewis Merthyr Colliery, Rhondda which, since 1986, has been redeveloped for opening to the public as the Rhondda Heritage Park.

In 1828 the South Wales coalfiled was producing an estimated 3 million tons of coal, by 1840 that had risen to 4.5 million, with about 70 percent consumed by local commercial and domestic usage. [67] The largest change to industrial Glamorgan was the opening up of the

Coal industry

Alongside the metalworks, industries appeared throughout Glamorgan that made use of the works' output. Pontypridd was well known for the Brown Lenox Chainworks, which during the 19th century was the town's main industrial employer.[65]

Other areas to house heavy industries include ironworks in Maesteg (1826), tinplate works in Llwydarth and Pontyclun and an iron ore mine in Llanharry.

As well as copper and iron, Glamorgan became an important centre for the tinplate industry. Although not as famous as the Llanelli or Pontypool works, a concentrated number of works emerged around Swansea, Aberavon and Neath towards the late 19th century.[63] Glamorgan became the most populous and industrialised county in Wales and was known as the 'crucible of the Industrial Revolution'.[42][64]

Even at its peak, copper smelting was never as significant as iron smelting, which was the major industrial employer of men and capital in south Wales before the rise of the sale-coal industry. Ironmaking developed in locations where ironstone, coal and limestone were found in close proximity - primarily the northern and south-western parts of the South Wales coalfield.[61][62] In the second half of the 18th century four ironworks were built in Merthyr Tydfil. In 1759 the Dowlais Ironworks were established by a partnership of nine men. This was followed by the Plymouth Ironworks in 1763, which was formed by Isaac Wilkinson and John Guest, then in 1765 Anthony Bacon established the Cyfarthfa Ironworks. The fourth of the great ironworks, Penydarren Ironworks was built in 1784. These works made Merthyr Tydfil the main centre of the industry in Wales.[61]

Isambard Brunel stood in front of the Great Eastern whose chains were made by Brown Lenox of Pontypridd[60]

[59] in 1902.Clydach established a works at Ludwig Mond after nickel also became a location for the manufacture of Tawe valley and the zinc Some of the works converted to the production of [57] From the mid-18th century onwards, Glamorgan's uplands underwent large-scale industrialisation and several coastal towns, in particular

Dowlais Ironworks by George Childs (1840)
Metals industry

Industrial Glamorgan, 1750–1920

By the 17th century, the availability of fine building stone permitted the construction of high-quality lime-washed rural cottages and farmhouses in the Vale of Glamorgan, which drew favourable remarks from travellers. A Glamorgan yeoman of the time generally lived in greater comfort than his contemporaries of the more westerly or upland parts of Wales such as Cardiganshire or north Carmarthenshire.[55]

The period between the Laws in Wales Acts and the industrialisation of Glamorgan saw two distinct periods architecturally. From the 1530s throughout to 1650, the newly empowered gentry attempted to show their status by building stately homes to show their wealth; but the period from 1650 through to the mid-1750s was a fallow time for architectural grandeur, with few new wealthy families moving to the area. Of the eight major gentry houses of the time only St Donat's Castle electing to remain in their old ancestral home.[47]

Buildings of note, 1536–1750

Glamorgan, now falling under the protection of the crown, was also involved in the conflicts of the crown. With the start of the Battle of St Fagans (1648), where the New Model Army overcame a larger Royalist to prevent a siege of Cardiff.[52]

[51] Early iron smelting within Glamorgan was a localised and minor industry, with historical evidence pointing to scattered ironworks throughout the county.

Beaupre Castle

The main industry of Glamorgan during this period was agriculture. In the upland, or Blaenau area, the hilly terrain along with many areas being densely wooded, made arable farming unprofitable, so the local farming concentrated on the rearing of horses, cattle and sheep.[48] The lowland, or Bro was devoted to more general branches of farming, cereal, grass for pasture, hay and stock raising. Non-agricultural industries were generally small scale, with some shallow coal pits, Kidwelly and Port Talbot.[49] Smelting of copper started around Neath under the Mines Royal Society c. 1584 but the scale of the works increased dramatically from the early 18th century when Swansea displaced Bristol as Britain's copper smelting capital.[49] Easy access to Cornish ores and a local outcropping of coal near the surface, gave Swansea economic advantages in the smelting industry.

The Carnes at Ewenny, the Mansels at Margam, Williams of Neath, the Herberts at Cardiff and Swansea and the Stradlings of St Donats.

History 1536–1750

County of Glamorgan

When the Savigniac house in Neath in 1130 and the Cistercian Margam Abbey in 1147.[45] In the Vale a Benedictine monastery was founded in 1141, Ewenny Priory, a community under the patronage of St. Peter's Gloucester. The building of parish churches also began in the 12th century, densely in the Vale, but very sparsely in the upland and northern areas.

The kingdom of Glamorgan was also notable for the number of castles built during the time of the Owain Glyndŵr during the Welsh Revolt of 1400–1415. Some were captured, and several were damaged to such an extent they were never maintained as defences again.

The legacy of the Marcher Lords left the area scattered with historic buildings including Norman castles, Cistercian Abbeys, churches and medieval monuments.

Buildings of note, 1080–1536

[41].Jasper Tudor and in 1486 the kingdom was granted to [44]

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