A literal English translation of the name Pontarddulais is "Bridge on the Dulais", and Dulais means "black stream", probably due to its journey through coal fields. The earlier name of Pontaberdulais is in reference to a dismantled 14th century road bridge over the Loughor River (Afon Llwchwr) which formed part of the main highway between Swansea and Carmarthen. The Bridge was so named because of its position upstream of the mouth of the Dulais stream, and not as many believe, because of it spanning the Dulais stream. The Pontaberdulais bridge spanned the River Loughor. This bridge was also known as "Y Bont Fawr". The village that developed around this bridge took the shortened form of Pontardulais as its name, also written as Pontarddulais because of the assumption that the bridge was "over Dulais". The bridge also gave the town its nickname "Y Bont" ("The Bont").
Most of the town lies within the Parish of Llandeilo Tal-y Bont (apart from the small section west of the bridge that lies in Llanedi Parish). Llandeilo Tal-y Bont (the Church of St Teilo at the end of the bridge) also contains a bridge in its name, but this is not to be confused with the Pontaberdulais bridge. The church bridge was located near to the old church on the earlier Roman road that crossed the river Loughor near Hendy. The mediæval church was carefully reconstructed stone by stone and now stands proudly in The Museum of Welsh Life in St Fagan's Cardiff.
Pontardulais was a quiet remote hamlet for centuries. At some time during the Middle Ages, a bridge was built across the River Loughor where Pontardulais is now. The bridge was called Pontaberdulais. It was also known as Y Bont Fawr (The Great Bridge). The bridge was an important link between Carmarthenshire and Glamorganshire. A new single span bridge was built beside Y Bont Fawr in 1938 and the old bridge was demolished at the end of the Second World War. Pontardulais first gained attention in the wider world in 1843, during the Rebecca Riots when rioters attacked the toll gate there, after crossing the bridge.
The path to industrialisation began in the early nineteenth century. 1839 saw the arrival of the railways to the town when the Llanelli Dock Company built a line to transport anthracite coal from the Amman Valley to Llanelli. In 1866, a new line was built connecting Pontardulais with Swansea which made Pontardulais an important railway junction.
Pontardulais was transformed from a rural settlement into an industrial community during the years 1872 to 1910 when six tinplate works were established. The population expanded greatly during this period, as workers from nearby communities and as far afield as Italy, moved in to find work in the tinplate industry.
The 1950 saw another major transformation in Pontardulais. New, modern tinplate works in nearby Trostre and Felindre rendered the old works in Pontardulais obsolete. The local works were taken over by other enterprises and redeveloped as light industry. However, they did not replace all the jobs lost due to the closure of the local tin plate works. A part of the local population had to find work elsewhere. Light industry gradually began deserting Pontardulais in the latter half of the twentieth century, transforming the community into a commuter village.
The local railway station is served by the Heart of Wales Line with trains to Swansea to the south and Shrewsbury to the north. The A48 road traverses thorough the town as St Teilo Street and Bolgoed Road. The M4 motorway serves Pontarddulais at junction 48.
Media and culture
Pontarddulais hosts many cultural events throughout the year including Pontarddulais and Hendy carnival, which makes its way from Hendy Industrial Estate to Coed Bach Park in Pontarddulais on the last Saturday of June every year. Also held in the town is Pontarddulais Show, an agricultural show held on August Bank Holiday, and the Classic Car and Motor Show, held in September, both of which take place at Pontarddulais Agricultural Show Ground.
Pontarddulais is home to Côr Meibion Pontarddulais or Pontarddulais Male Choir has won the main choir prize at the Welsh National Eisteddfod a record 15 times and the International Eisteddfod prize on two occasions. The choir also performed choral parts in the Pink Floyd film The Wall  and recorded with Roger Waters on his hit single "The Tide is Turning".
Pontarddulais is also home to Pontardulais Town Band. The band has many national and local accolades, and is one of the oldest town brass bands in Britain. Having survived both World Wars, the band continues to move from strength to strength. The band room is located off Station Road Pontarddulais. The band continues to support local events, such as the Hendy and Pontarddulais carnival, and Remembrance Day Parades. Pontardulais Town Band won the Championship Section at the South East Wales Brass Band Association contest on 21 November 2009, held in the Blaenavon Workingmen’s Hall. It was the first time for over 50 years that the Pontardulais Town Band has won a “Class A” or championship contest in Wales. The last time the band was ranked “Class A” was in 1958 when they represented Wales at the National Finals playing “Variations on a Shining River” arranged by Frank Wright. The band finished the year joint runners-up in the championship section for the 2009 competitive year. In March 2010 the band competed in the Welsh Regional Championships in the Brangwyn Hall in Swansea and they attained 1st place in the first section resulting in them qualifying for the National Brass Band Championships of Great Britain. The band's current Musical Director is Mr Paul Jenkins.
Some well-known literary figures have associations with Pontarddulais, including Edward Thomas and Dylan Thomas, who had several aunts and uncles in the town. It has been suggested that Dylan based part of his filmscript, Rebecca's Daughters, on the riots in the Bont. His lifelong friend, Wynford Vaughan Thomas, was the grandson of Daniel Lewis, one of the Rebecca leaders.
- Pontardulais place-name
- Pontarddulais RFC
- www.geograph.co.uk : photos of Pontarddulais and surrounding area
- Pontarddulais Male Choir official site
- Pontarddulais Male Choir history
- From Fountain to River: Dylan Thomas and the Bont by D. John and D.N. Thomas in Cambria autumn 2010 and at https://sites.google.com/site/dylanthomaspontardulais/home