Merthyr Tydfil, a town truely steeped in industrial history both of Wales and the U.K. It is located some 40 miles north of Cardiff on the crossroads of the A470, the main north/south road and the A465, the main south west/south east link. At the top of the Taff valley, the river which flows sout and into the River Severn via Cardiff Bay. This waterway and the adjoining Glamorgan Canal linked the two towns and those between, as both relied on each other. Now another route, The Taff Trail, a cycle route, links the two places. Today the area is shrugging off the bad part of its' past industy and looking forward towards the recreational activities to be found just north of the town in The Brecon Beacons National Park. No longer "The Iron Capital of the World", it is now "The Gateway to the Beacons".
The 19th century saw the ages of coal and iron bring prosperity to Merthyr, the valleys and Cardiff, Newport and Barry on the coast. It also brought death and suffering to many men and women who worked in these industries. The strength of Unions after the Second World War was born from these events. Today the vast Dowlais area once the iron centre is now green again and the pits and tips have all but disappeared. The history has left a mark on Merthyr Tydfil in bricks and mortar as well as records. Trevethick ran his railway here between Penydarren and Abercynon and it was the first in the World to haul a load on rails as far back as February 15th. 1804, some 20 years before Stephenson's. The bricks and stones are visible in the Cefn Coed Viaduct and Cyfarthfa Castle.
Built in 1824/5 by Richard Luger from a commission by William Crawshay II, an Ironmaster of the day, the setting in 106 acres is impressive, with views of The Beacons and the site of his ironworks. The house now houses a museum and art gallery. In the centre of the picture above is a scale model of the Trevithick engine.
Other attractions in the area are The Brecon Mountain Railway which runs into the National Park. The Indoor Climbing Centre at Taff Bargoed, Joseph Parry's Ironworker's Cottage, Gethin Woodland Park, Dolygaer Outdoor Education Centre, Garwnant Forest Centre and although some miles south The Rhondda Heritage Park. This is in fact the site of The Lewis Merthyr Colliery and is now a working museum.
Further information when visiting the are can be obtained from the Merthyr Tydfil Information Centre which is located next to Merthyr Tydfil bus station at 14a, Glebeland Street. Telephone +44(0)1685 379884
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