Pontypridd (English pronunciation: /pɒntəˈpriːð/) is both a community and a principal town of Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales and is situated 12 miles/19 km north of the Welsh capital city of Cardiff. Pontypridd is often abbreviated "Ponty" by local residents.
Pontypridd comprises the electoral wards of Cilfynydd, Glyncoch, Graig, Graigwen, Hawthorn, Pontypridd Town, 'Rhondda', Rhydyfelin Central/Ilan (Rhydfelen), Trallwng (Trallwn) and Treforest (Trefforest).
The town sits at the junction of the Rhondda and Taff / Cynon valleys, where the River Rhondda flows into the Taff immediately south of the town at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park. The community of Pontypridd is the second largest in Wales, just behind Barry. Pontypridd community had a population of 29,781 according to census figures gathered in 2001. while Pontypridd town itself was recorded as having a population of 2,919 also as of 2001.
The town lies alongside the dual carriageway north-south A470, between Cardiff and Merthyr Tydfil. The A4054 running north and south of the town was the former main road, and like the A470, follows the Taff Valley. South of the town is the A473, for Llantrisant and Pencoed. To the west is the A4058, which follows the River Rhondda to Porth and the Rhondda Valley beyond.
The name Pontypridd is from "Pont-y-tŷ-pridd" the Welsh for "bridge by the earthen house", a reference to a succession of wooden bridges that formerly spanned the River Taff at this point.
Pontypridd is, however, more famous for the Old Bridge a stone bridge across the River Taff built in 1756 by William Edwards. This bridge was the third attempted by Edwards, and at the time of its construction was the longest single-span stone arch bridge in the world. Rising 35 feet (11 m) above the level of the river, the bridge is a perfect segment of a circle, the chord of which is 140 feet (43 m). Notable features are three holes of differing diameters through each end of the bridge. The purpose of these was to reduce the weight of the bridge, although their aesthetically pleasing nature is a bonus. The utility of the bridge was debatable, however – the steepness of the design making it difficult to get horses and carts across it – and in 1857 a new bridge, the Victoria Bridge, paid for by public subscription, was built adjacent to the old one. Pontypridd was known as Newbridge from shortly after the construction of the Old Bridge until the 1860s.
The history of Pontypridd is closely tied to the coal and iron industries, prior to the developments of these Pontypridd was largely a rural backwater comprising a few farmsteads, with Treforest initially becoming the main urban settlement in the area. Sited as it is at the junction of the three valleys, it became an important location for the transportation of coal from the Rhondda and iron from Merthyr Tydfil, first via the Glamorganshire Canal and later via the Taff Vale Railway, to the ports at Cardiff, Barry and to Newport. Because of its role in transporting coal cargo, its railway platform is thought to have once been the longest in the world during its heyday. Pontypridd was in the second half of the 19th century a hive of industry, and was once nicknamed the ‘Wild West’. There were several collieries within the Pontypridd area itself, including:
- Albion Colliery, Cilfynydd
- Bodwenarth Colliery, Pontsionnorton
- Daren Ddu Colliery, Graigwen & Glyncoch
- Dynea Colliery Rhydyfelen
- Gelli-whion Colliery, Graig
- Great Western/Gyfeillion Colliery, Hopkinstown
- Lan Colliery, Hopkinstown
- Newbridge Colliery, Graig
- Pen-y-rhiw Colliery, Graig
- Pontypridd/Maritime Collieries, Graig & Maesycoed
- Pwllgwaun Colliery/'Dan's Muck Hole', Pwllgwaun
- Red Ash Colliery, Cilfynydd
- Ty-Mawr Colliery, Hopkinstown & Pantygraigwen
- Typica Colliery, Hopkinstown & Pantygraigwen and
- Victoria Colliery, Maesycoed
As well as the deep mined collieries there were many coal levels and trial shafts dug into the hill sides overlooking the town from Cilfynydd, Graig, Graigwen and Hafod. The Albion Colliery in the village of Cilfynydd in 1894 was the site of one of the worst explosions within the South Wales coalfield, with the death of 290 colliers (see Keir Hardie).
Iron and Steel
Other instrumental industries in Pontypridd were the - Brown Lenox/Newbridge Chain & Anchor Works south east of the town, and Crawshay’s Forest Iron, Steel & Tin Plate Works and the Taff Vale Iron Works, both in Treforest near the now University of Glamorgan.
The town is also home to a large hospital, Dewi Sant Hospital.
The Welsh national anthem ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ (Land of my Fathers) was composed in Pontypridd by local poets/musicians Evan James and James James. Pontypridd was also home to the eccentric Dr. William Price who performed the first modern cremation.
Pontypridd community is made up of the town of Pontypridd and its immediate suburbs, settlements and villages.
Suburb/Settlement/Village Cilfynydd Coedpenmaen (Coed-Pen-Maen) Glyntaff (Glyn-Taff) Glyncoch Graig & Pen-y-Rhiw Graigwen & Pantygraigwen Hawthorn (Y Ddraenen-Wen) Hopkinstown (Trehopcyn) Maesycoed (Maes-y-Coed) Pontsionnorton (Pont Sion Norton) Pontypridd Common & Pentrebach Pwllgwaun Rhydyfelin (Rhydfelen) & Ilan Trallwn (Trallwng) Treforest (Trefforest) Trehafod, East Upper Boat (Glan-Bad)
Pontypridd came into becoming because of transport, being on the drovers route from the south Wales coast and the Bristol Channel, to Merthyr and onwards into the hills of Brecon. Although initial expansion in the valleys occurred at Treforest due to the slower speed of the River Taff at that point, the establishment of better bridge building meant a natural flow of power to Pontypridd.
A tram service began on 6 March 1905, running from Cilfynydd through Pontypridd to Treforest. It was replaced on 18 September 1930 by trolleybuses, which today are replaced by buses which replicate an almost exact route. Today bus services are principally provided by Veolia Transport Cymru (on the local town services and longer distance routes to Cardiff, Beddau, Talbot Green and Aberdare) and Stagecoach in South Wales (on long distance routes to Cardiff, Rhondda, Merthyr Tydfil, Caerphilly etc).
- Pontypridd County Intermediate and Technical School was built in 1895, later becoming Pontypridd County Grammar School for Boys on Tyfica Road. It later became the Coedylan Comprehensive School, and is now the Pontypridd High School in Cilfynydd on the west side of the A4054.
- Hawthorn High School is near the A4054 in Hawthorn (south-east of the town)
- Pontypridd Grammar School for Girls was on The Common in Glyntaff.
- Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School is on Penycoedcae Road in Beddau
- Cardinal Newman RC School is on Dynea Road in Rhydyfelin
- Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg is on the A473 in Church Village (south of the town)
- The University of Glamorgan (former Glamorgan Polytechnic) is in Treforest (south of the town), next to the A473
Entertainment and social history
- Pontypridd is home to Pontypridd Rugby Football Club, one of Wales' most notable rugby union clubs, with a successful junior rugby and Age-grade sections that frequently contributes players to the national team. Formed in 1876, Pontypridd RFC play in the Principality Premiership, SWALEC Cup and the British and Irish Cup. Pontypridd RFC play their home games at Sardis Road, with their junior section playing at Taff Vale Park and Pontypridd High School Fields, Cilfynydd.
- Pontypridd Town A.F.C. is a Welsh football club which has achieved some success in the Welsh football league.
- Speedway racing was staged at Taff Vale Park in the town's Broadway area in 1929/1930.
- Pontypridd Bowls Club play in the top division in the Cynon Valley, Mid Glamorgan and the Cardiff League having been promoted in all 3 divisions following the 2009 season. They play their home games at Ynysanghard Park.
- Pontypridd has its very own community radio station GTFM, which is in partnership with the University of Glamorgan. It has local news, information and music from the last four decades, and is run by a voluntary management committee.
- The Pontypridd and Llantrisant Observer is the local newspaper for the town.
- Pontypridd hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1893.
- Tom Jones, born on 7 June 1940 at 57, Kingsland Terrace, Treforest and the World-famous son of Pontypridd frequently references his hometown in interviews. A 65th birthday concert was held at the town's Ynysangharad Park at which he headlined.
- Pontypridd is home to rock icons, Lostprophets - an internationally-acclaimed group.
- The name of the fictional town of Pontypandy, in which children's television programme Fireman Sam is situated, is a portmanteau of Pontypridd and Tonypandy.
- The Welsh TV show Belonging was shot in Pontypridd
- The BBC hit sci-fi shows Doctor Who and Torchwood have filmed at various location around Pontypridd and nearby, such as at the Market Tavern pub in Market Street and the Lido in Ynysangharad Park. Other locations include at - Treforest, Hawthorn, Graigwen, Upper Boat, Trallwng, Ynysybwl and others.
Pontypridd is twinned with Nürtingen, Esslingen, south Germany
Initial contact between the two communities occurred in 1965 with a visit by Côr Meibion Pontypridd Welsh male voice Choir to visit a choir called called "Liederkranz" based in the Oberensingen area of Nürtingen. The Liederkranz returned the visit to Pontypridd one year later. On the occasion of the next visit of Côr Meibion to Nürtingen the partnership between the two communities was formally established - on 26 July 1968. Since then reciprocal visits between the two choirs has taken place on a regular basis. It was as a result of this successful partnership that Pontypridd Urban District Council decided to have a formal Twinning link at a civic level and to join in partnership with Nürtingen. In July 1968 an agreement was signed by John Cheesman J.P., mayor of Pontypridd and Karl Gonser mayor of Nürtingen. This resulted in the first twinning link in Rhondda Cynon Taf and the longest established twinning links with Nürtingen.
See Category:People from Pontypridd
- Robert James Bye, recipient of the Victoria Cross in World War I
- Opera singers, Stuart Burrows and Geraint Evans, who were both born in Cilfynydd
- Phil Campbell, guitarplayer for Motörhead
- John Evans, poet
- Harri Greville, rugby league footballer
- Evan James and James James, writers of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the national anthem of Wales
- Tom Jones, singer of such worldwide top 40 hits as Delilah and The Green Green Grass of Home, born on the 7th June 1940 at 57, Kingsland Terrace in village of Trefforest
- Elaine Morgan, script writer and anthropologist
- William Price, who carried out the first modern cremation in the UK in modern times on Llantrisant Common.
- Freddie Welsh, world champion boxer
- Neil Jenkins, Michael Owen, Martyn Williams, Kevin Morgan, Ceri Sweeney, Gethin Jenkins, Geraint Lewis, Richard Parks, John Gwilliam and Gareth Wyatt, Welsh international rugby players
- Rock musicians Lostprophets, Phil Campbell of Motörhead, Gareth Davies and Darran Smith of Funeral for a Friend
- Côr Meibion Pontypridd (Pontypridd Male Voice Choir)
- Owain Warlow, Jason Price, Ceri Hughes, Danny Canning, Richard Haig, Colin Gale and Pat Mountain, footballers
- Kimberley Nixon, actress Wild Child, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snoggin, Cranford
- Catrin Collier, Author Hearts of Gold, Beggars and Choosers, Tiger Bay Blues
- Chris Slade, drummer for AC/DC and Asia
- Richard Harris author of "Closets are for clothes"
- Sheila Laxon was the first female Thoroughbred horse trainer to win the Australian cups double, of the Caulfield Cup and Melbourne Cup.
- Dr David Kelly, specialist in biological warfare, attended Pontypridd County Grammar School