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St Peter's Church, Pontardawe - geograph.org.uk - 133636.jpg
St Peter's Church, Pontardawe
Grid reference: SN721040
Location: 51°43’13"N, 3°51’12"W
Population: 5,035  (2001)
Post town: Neath
Postcode: SA8-SA9
Dialling code: 01792
Local Government
Council: Neath Port Talbot

Pontardawe is a village of some 5,000 inhabitants in Glamorgan, in the Swansea Valley. Pontardawe first came into existence as a settlement at the crossroads of two drovers' tracks, one from Swansea to Brecon, and the other from Neath to Llandeilo. Its best known landmark today is the tall spire of St Peter's church which sits on a high point of the valley floor overlooking the Swansea Canal close to the centre of the town.

The name of the village means "Bridge on the Tawe".


During the latter part of the 19th century and up to the middle of the 20th century the main industry in Pontardawe was steel and tinplate, with a number of steelworks and tinplate works exporting all over the world. None of the heavy industry remains; on the site of the Alloy works there is now a small industrial estate of a number of small engineering firms, motor maintenance, building supplies and a health centre for the area.


Attractions in the town include the Swansea Canal and the Pontardawe Arts Centre. The old stone bridge of Pontardawe was built by William Edwards of Pontypridd, a famed bridge builder. He also built the Old Bridge at Pontypridd, which was the longest single-span bridge in the world when it was constructed, as well as the bridge at Cenarth in Carmarthenshire. Edwards was also responsible for the design of Morriston, a new town developed by the Swansea Valley industrialist Sir John Morris.

Music and arts

Pontardawe Inn

The Pontardawe Festival of world music and dance has been held in August each year since 1978 and there are also regular meetings of such music groups as the Pontardawe Acoustic Music Club, held every Wednesday at the Pontardawe Inn (Y Gwachel), and the long-established Valley Folk Club, held on the first and third Fridays of each month at the Ivy Bush Hotel. Many of the pubs in Pontardawe feature live music at the weekends. The Pontardawe Arts Centre also stages quality performances by musicians of both national and international fame.

Pontardawe also has an active film society which shows about 20 films selected by its membership each year.


A retail park on Ffordd Parc Ynysderw was opened in July 2008, with further units following.

The Tesco supermarket in Pontardawe plans to expand its store and as part of the planning deal the company is to make a sum of £100,000 available for local development of the town.

In 2008 the Pontardawe Chamber for Trade & Commerce was formed. Its goal is to promote business in the area, and rekindle a sense of community in and around the Town Centre, which was subsequently lost by the creation of the nearby superstores. The Chamber of Trade was active in creating a Tourism Map of the Area, and holds seasonal Festivals in the Town Centre. There are plans to re-instate the Pontardawe Market, and revive Pontardawe's historical status as a Market Town.

Sports and recreation

  • Cricket
  • Rugby union: Pontardawe RFC
  • Football
The King George V Field

The playing fields adjoining the Pontardawe Leisure Centre at Parc Ynysderw are one of the United Kingdom's 471 King George's Fields, established as a memorial to King George V. They were officially transferred to their present site in 2003 and occupy land which formerly belonged to the tinplate works but is now owned and maintained by the local authority. The Cwmtawe rugby sevens competition, held at Parc Ynysderw, attracts entries from far and wide.

Pontardawe also has a very successful karate and kickboxing team who are members of the Welsh Contact Karate Association and train in Alltwen Community Centre.

There is also a Swim Wales swimming club (Swansea Valley SC / Clwb Nofio Cwmtawe).

On a hill overlooking the town is the local golf course which has views of the Brecon Beacons and Bristol Channel from the 16th hole.

A local community group, Arena Pontardawe, is planning a recreational development on the Glanrhyd Industrial Estate. The development will comprise indoor and outdoor arenas and business units.[1]


Every August Pontardawe hosts the Pontardawe Festival, held on the leisure centre playing fields at Parc Ynysderw. This world music event features singing, dancing, and other artistic performances by acts from all over the world.

Broad view of Pontardawe from 'The Graig' above Alltwen

Railway history

The Swansea Vale Railway (SVR) – founded in 1845 to develop and extend a short tramroad which had been opened nearly 30 years earlier to transport coal down the lower part of the valley to the docks at Swansea – reached Pontardawe in 1860, Ystalyfera in 1861, and Brynamman in 1863. On 1 October 1873 the SVR opened a branch from Ynysygeinon, near Ystalyfera, to Coelbren on the Neath and Brecon Railway, thereby connecting Pontardawe for the first time to the national rail network.

The Midland Railway took over operation of the SVR from 1 September 1874 and by 1877 the timetable of passenger trains calling at Pontardawe included three services a day in each direction conveying through carriages between Swansea and Brecon, Hereford, Great Malvern, Worcester and Birmingham. Traffic on the route began declining between the wars, however, and passenger services to Brecon were withdrawn in 1931 and those to Brynamman in 1950 – the railway line through Pontardawe finally closing to all traffic in 1964.[2]

The Amman Valley Railway Society have ambitious plans to relink Pontardawe to the main line.


TawAir was established in 2007 by a group of volunteers committed to bringing community radio to the Swansea Valley. The group eventually aim to apply for a full-time FM community radio licence from Ofcom, with studios to be based centrally in Pontardawe. The group became an Unincorporated Association with Charitable Aims in May 2009. The station recently released its first audio production, in the form of an on-demand webcast, featuring the recent Pontardawe's Got Talent competition held over the period October - December 2010 at the Pontardawe Inn (Y Gwachel). The station does not yet broadcast any live output.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Pontardawe)


  1. "Pontardawe Arena on the Way". News Wales. 2008-12-05. http://www.newswales.co.uk/?section=Community&F=1&id=15749. Retrieved 2009-06-08. 
  2. Jones, GB & Dunstone, D (1999). The Origins of the LMS in South Wales. Gomer. ISBN 1-85902-671-0.