South Wales Villages

December 29, 2015

This image is of part of Tonypandy, with row upon row of terraced homes clustered together and climbing up the edges of the thin valleys. Although this kind of housing is definitely prevalent elsewhere in other parts of Britain and, the connected impact right here of their ubiquity and the geographical constraints regarding the region’s landscape has triggered what is unmistakeably one of the defining images regarding the South Wales Valleys. The distinctiveness of this Valleys metropolitan environment is characterised completely in work regarding the Hengoed-born cartoonist Gren.

Even today, using disappearance of coal mining as an important industry, this scene illustrates plainly that the densely-populated mining villages of South Wales had been intrinsically a product associated with the demands of its coal industry. Utilizing the collieries themselves usually situated on the area floor in accordance with minimal room for expansion in other places, however with the necessity for a large staff is housed near the pits, there clearly was often no choice but for the employees’ houses is built on the high surrounding hillsides.

Apart from Merthyr Tydfil in addition to other “iron cities” of minds associated with Valleys, all the towns and villages associated with Southern Wales coalfield owe their particular presence toward volatile development of the coal industry in nineteenth and early twentieth hundreds of years. This development had been permitted by an astonishing rate of inward migration. The Rhondda valleys, which because of the 1870s had end up being the primary coal-producing area, exemplify this event dramatically. In 1851 there have been only 951 Rhondda residents; this figure had climbed to 55, 000 by 1881 and peaked at 167, 000 in 1924. By now there were more people living in the Rhondda compared to Cardiganshire, Merionethshire and Montgomeryshire combined. The overwhelming most this populace would have lived crammed into terraced housing of type shown here.

Urban development when you look at the South Wales coalfield was shaped by the specific economic and geographic characteristics for the region in other techniques, also. More prominent manifestation of the could be the “ribbon pattern” of a succession of near-overlapping “urban villages” and tiny towns up each of the particular mining valleys. This appears in sharp contrast to the more usual structure of urbanisation, which will be a certain nucleated city or city center encompassed by its residential district hinterlands. This point is illustrated clearly by researching Cardiff together with Rhondda valleys on a map, as an example.

Ben Curtis is an historian for the Southern Wales coalfield and has already been appointed Lecturer in contemporary Welsh record at Cardiff University. Before this, he was employed by Aberystwyth University as an investigation Associate working on a project regarding reputation for impairment and industrial damage in Southern Wales coalfield community. He also teaches at Cardiff University’s Lifelong training Centre. He received his PhD from Glamorgan University in 2007. Their book The Southern Wales Miners, 1964-1985 was published by the University of Wales Press in 2013. He's the treasurer of Llafur, the Welsh People’s History Society.

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