Castle Street towards the town clock
The town became an early centre of the Industrial Revolution. In 1778 an iron furnace was built in Sirhowy by Thomas Atkinson and William Barrow who came to the area from London. Fuel was needed for the furnace so men were employed to dig coal at Bryn Bach and Nantybwch, the first small scale coal mining operation in the area.
The furnace failed in 1794. In 1797, Samuel Homfray, with partners Richard Fothergill and the Revd. Matthew Monkhouse built a new furnace, leasing the land from the Tredegar Estate in Newport. This created the Sirhowy Ironworks that were to become the Tredegar Ironworks, named in honour of the Tredegar Estate at Tredegar House and Tredegar Park in Newport in the south of the county.
Adrian Vaughn, in his 1985 book "Grub, Water & Relief," mentions that in 1832 John Gooch took a managerial post in the Tredegar iron works. "Utterly remote at the head of the Sirhowy valley...the town was a man-made hell. Men and children worked killing hours in the smoke and filth of the foundries and were maimed by molten metal. Their only medical help was that administered by the 'Penny Doctor.' Wages were paid in Homfray's private coinage-banks were not allowed in the town-so workers spent their coins in Homfray's shops, buying food at Homfray's prices. Poverty and malnutrition followed and disease followed both. "Father and son arrived in the town just as its first cholera epidemic had started...."
Links with the Labour Party
Tredegar has strong links with prominent Labour MPs and the history of the Labour Party and the Labour Movement in the UK. It was the birthplace of Aneurin Bevan, who was responsible for the introduction of the British National Health Service (NHS), and who in the 1920s was involved in the management of Tredegar General Hospital. It was also the birthplace of former Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock who attended Georgetown Infants and Juniors. His predecessor as leader, Michael Foot, was MP for the local constituency - Ebbw Vale - during his time as party leader. Ironically, Michael Foot's constituency home was Number 10. In a further irony, Tredegar, as part of the Blaenau Gwent constituency was for a period no longer represented by a Labour MP, with the independent Dai Davies representing the once safe Labour constituency until the general election of 2010.
Bedwellty House is a Grade 2 listed house and gardens. Originally a "low thatched-roof cottage", the old house was renovated in 1809. The present Bedwellty House was built in 1818 as a home for Samuel Homfray, whose Iron and Coal Works were the main local employers for much of the 19th century. The surrounding 26-acre Victorian garden and park, designed originally as a Dutch garden around which one could walk or ride without being confronted by gate, fence or outside features, contains the Long Shelter, a Grade 2 listed structure built for the Chartist movement.
The Town Clock
One of Tredegar's main attributes is the Town Clock - dominating the southern part of the town centre. The clock was the idea of Mrs. R P Davies the wife of the Tredegar ironworks manager, who had decided that she wanted to present a "lofty illuminated clock" and it was she who decided that it would be erected in the Circle.
"The clock tower is seventy-two feet high. The foundation is of masonry, on which is surmounted the cast-iron base which has four arms from each corner to a distance of sixty feet at a depth of five feet and six inches below ground level. The pillar is wholly composed of cast-iron, upon a square pediment which in turn, receives a rectangular plinth, and upon this stands a cylindrical column of smooth surface and symmetrical diameter, ornamented with suitable coping on which rests the clock surrounded with a weather vane. The plinth is inscribed on the four aspects, on the south side - Presented to the town of Tredegar from the proceeds of a bazaar promoted by the late Mrs R.P.Davis. Erected in the year 1858. On the west side is effigy of Wellington, with the legend - Wellington, England's Hero. On the North, the Royal Arms of England; and on the east, the name and description of the founder with his crest, - Charles Jordan, Iron Founder, Newport, Mon. The clock is provided with four transparent faces or dials, each five feet three inches diameter, and these were illuminated originally by gas, but this was later changed to electricity. The minute hands are each two feet two inches long, and the hour hand one foot seven inches long. The clocks mechanism is a fifteen-inch mainwheel strike, with a single four-legged Gravity Escapement driving the four dials. It has a 1 1/4 second pendulum and the bob weighs two hundredweight".
Culture and leisure
Tredegar is home to Bryn Bach Park, a country park.
Tredegar Orpheus Male voice choir celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2009. Originally in Tredegar there were two choirs, a glee party and a small chapel choir. In 1909, these united under the baton of Mr John Davy Evans, and thus became known as 'The Tredegar Orpheus Male Voice Choir', the name Orpheus coming from the Greek god of music.
Tredegar Town Band won the Champion Band of Wales for the tenth time in 2010. Their financial support comes from local councils and from the support of 'friends' who raise the money needed to maintain the band. Many other bands attract private sponsorship.
Tredegar is home to rugby union teams Tredegar Rugby Football Club and Tredegar Ironsides Rugby Football Club, formed in 1946.
The need for transport development came from Tredegar's industrialisation. By 1805, a joint venture between the Tredegar Iron Company and the Monmouthshire Canal resulted in the early development of what became the Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway, connecting Tredegar to Newport Docks through 24 miles of tramway. Originally powered by horses, in 1829 Chief Engineer Thomas Ellis was authorised to purchase a steam locomotive from the Stephenson Company. Built at Tredegar Works and made its maiden trip on December 17, 1829. In 1865 the railway was extended north to Nantybwch to meet up with the LNWR The railway declined with the industrial works, and Tredegar railway station closed with the Beeching Axe in 1963. The closest railway stations now are in Ebbw Vale, Rhymney and Abergavenny.
- "A look at Old Tredegar in photographs" Volume 1 Philip Prosser Old Bakehouse Publications 1990
- B. Gardner's History of Tredegar and other information
- Tredegar town website
- The Georgetown Schools (1877-1989) Clarice Brown Starling Press, Newport 1989
- BBC NEWS | Wales | South East Wales | £3.6m earmarked for listed house
- BBC NEWS | Wales | South East Wales | Arson destroys historic pavilion
- Tredegar Town Clock:: OS grid SO1408 :: Geograph British Isles - photograph every grid square!
- Old Tredegar Volume One W.Scandlett ISBN 0 9517057 0 9
- Tredegar Urban District Council's "Centenary Souvenir", 1958
- 4Bars Rest
- Tredegar Town Band
- Tredegar Rugby Football Club
- "Transaport". Tredegar.co.uk. http://www.tredegar.co.uk/history/. Retrieved August 14, 2010.