Commercial Street, Pontypool
Pontypool is a town of approximately 36,000 people in Monmouthshire.
Today Pontypool is regenerating itself and may be seen as a dormitory town for its southern neighbours Cwmbran and Newport. There is a folly there. It is one of the goals of the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway to extend southwards towards Pontypool from Blaenavon.
It is situated on the Afon Llwyd river. Although situated on the edge of the South Wales coalfields, Pontypool is regarded as an industrial town with former industries including iron and steel production, coal mining and the growth of the railways. A rather artistic manufacturing industry which also flourished here alongside heavy industry was Japan or lacquer ware.
Jasper Tudor, the Lord of Abergavenny and uncle of King Henry VII, on 10 October 1490, made a grant of land to one John ap David, and in the conveyance fixes one boundary as "the highway leading from the church of Trevethin towards the bridge called Pont poell." It would seem therefore that the town gains its name from the bridge placed near the swampy pool which almost certainly would be greater than the forge pond that exists today.
The coming of industry
Pontypool grew principally from the manufacture of iron. Although iron was made from 1425 in Pontymoile, now a suburb of Pontypool, Pontypool grew only when Richard Hanbury bought land locally during the Elizabethan period in 1588 and constructed an ironworks. The Hanburys pioneered the production of iron Pontypool Japan-ware with its decorated, lacquered style.
The Hanbury family lived in what was to become Pontypool Park, and around this the town grew. Much of the town's history comes from this family of industrial pioneers. The Napoleonic Wars were kind to the Hanburys, with increased prosperity due to the demand for munitions and armaments. With this increased wealth, Capel Hanbury Leigh extended Pontypool Park House between 1779 and 1840. Highly elaborate, wrought-iron gates can be seen at the entrance to the park. These were made in the 1720s and remodelled in 1835 by Thomas Deakin. They were a gift to Major John Hanbury (1664–1734) by the Duchess of Marlborough.
Between 1996 and 1998 a new bypass completely diverted traffic away from the town centre. This added to the decline of many years and much of the old town centre was increasingly abandoned by both visitors and businesses. In 2003 plans were drawn up to regenerate the town centre and today the town has experienced a redevelopment of Crane Street, one of the principal shopping streets.
The once famous Clarence Hotel is being redeveloped  and is being converted into flats and offices . In April 2006 a new Wetherspoons pub was opened on Osborne Road and named in honour of John Capel Hanbury, former owner of Pontypool Park House (now St. Alban's R.C. High School).
Pontypool Leisure Centre in Pontypool Park has been refurbished and extended to provide first class facilities for the surrounding area.
The town is home to three comprehensive schools: West Monmouth School, (formerly Jones' West Monmouth Grammar School for Boys) and Abersychan Comprehensive School (formerly Abersychan Grammar). Trevethin Community School has been closed. This was formerly Pontypool Grammar School for Girls (also known as 'The County'), although at one time the sole campus was where the Welsh-medium school, Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw now stands. In addition there is a church school, St. Alban's R.C. High School. There is also a Coleg Gwent campus located in the town, formerly known as Pontypool College.
Pontypool Rugby Football Club is one of the town's cornerstones. Founded in the 1870s, the club became a founder member of the Welsh Rugby Union in 1881. The intervening years saw 'Poola' become one of the great teams of Welsh rugby. The legendary 'Pontypool Front Row' in the 1970s, of Bobby Windsor, Charlie Faulkner and Graham Price was immortalised in song by Max Boyce. Whilst the team's contribution to Wales was seen again in 1983, when Pontypool's "forward factory" produced five of the Welsh pack in the Five Nations Championship. Other rugby union clubs based in or near the town are Pontypool United RFC, Garndiffaith RFC, Talywain RFC and Blaenavon RFC. Pontypool's rugby league club are called the Torfaen Tigers and play in the Rugby League Conference Welsh Premier.
The British experimental film-maker, writer and poet Jane Arden (née Norah Patricia Morris) was born in Twmpath Road, Pontypool in 1927. Members of the influential band, Manic Street Preachers Richey James Edwards, James Dean Bradfield and Sean Moore were also born there. Poet Myfanwy Haycock and opera singer Dame Gwyneth Jones were also born in the Pontypool area. Actor Anthony Hopkins attended West Monmouth School as a boarder for a brief time. Politicians Joan Ruddock and Roy Jenkins were born and educated in the area. Other notable people born or brought up in the area include screenwriter Keri Collins, actress Jennifer Daniel, comedian Elise Harris, footballers Marcus Ebdon and Tony Villars, model and presenter Annabel Giles, author David Llewellyn, Lee Dainton of Dirty Sanchez.