Tag Archives: merthyr tydfil

Great News for Troedyrhiw’s Historic Graveyard

Friends of Saron are very pleased to announce that preliminary work has begun on restoring the neglected and unsafe boundaries of Troedyrhiw’s historic graveyard. Specialist contractors have been on site and residents who are passing through the Chapel Street area should be able to follow progress over the coming weeks. We are very grateful to the freeholder and landowner for making this possible. Our volunteers are looking forward to getting back onto the Saron site when this work is completed and the Covid restrictions have been eased.


A passing remark in a reply to a recent post led me to look again at what I had discovered previously about the game of quoits that was once popular in our area and was certainly played in Troedyrhiw. The game survives in some parts of Wales and other areas of the UK. The, so called, ‘Long Game’ as played in Wales and Scotland involves throwing a heavy metal ring some 18 yards towards a ‘pin’ positioned at the centre of a 3ft square filled with clay. There are some regional variations in other parts of the UK. Follow this link to see what the game looks like:- https://www.facebook.com/1484326208545919/videos/375775743141486/

The ‘Quoits Ground’ in Troedyrhiw was located behind Victoria Buildings on the site of what is now the “Celtic Bunkhouse’ between School Road and Tyntaldwyn Road. This seems to have been the venue used for games by the Quoit Club that was based at the Fox & Hounds pub (Now an Indian Restaurant). According to Claude Stanfield’s autobiography quoits was also once played in a quarry behind the Dynevor Arms and also on The Willows. Notable players from Troedyrhiw included D. Morton and Boyo Sims who captained the victorious Welsh team in an international match against England in 1955.

You can read what Carolyn Jacob has written about the history of the game in our area on the Old Merthyr website and also Innes Macleod in Merthyr Historian – Volume 17.

Quarry Row, Troedyrhiw

Just to the south of Plymouth (South Duffryn) Colliery there once stood a terrace of workers cottages called Quarry Row. As the map from around 1900 shows the cottages were likely to have been named after one of the quarries that was located on the mountainside nearby. As you may have read in a previous post this quarry once contained the remains of a balance sheave or drum. This had once been used to lower drams (trams)  loaded with stone down an incline, which is also marked on the map, while drawing empty drams back up.

 Quarry Row was probably built in the 1820’s to house workers employed in the ironworks, coal workings and quarries. Census records show that, as the century progressed, the occupations of residents of Quarry Row switched from those associated with ironworking to almost exclusively the coal industry.

I seem to remember my late father telling me that, when he came to Troedyrhiw after WW2, the cottages were still occupied and an end house (I don’t know which) was a Police Station! Soon after this these houses were abandoned and became derelict, finally being demolished during the developments that took place in the 1970’s.


I recently posted about two tragic accidents in local collieries in 1891. One of the incidents was the fall of a mason from a chimney stack that was being erected at Plymouth (South Duffryn) Colliery. There is no doubt that, at this time, health and safety measures to protect those working in such hazardous situations would have been minimal. Over 70 years later, as my personal recollections confirm, such considerations had not moved on by much.

By 1962 the stack was deemed to be “unsafe” and was being prepared for demolition. No attempt was made to keep the public away as contractors cut large holes in the brickwork on one side of the chimney and it was perfectly possible, as the photograph shows, for curious passers by including myself, my father and a neighbour to walk up to the work in progress and have a really close look. Fortunately, we all survived to tell the tale!


An official report from 1892 shows how dangerous the South Wales coalfield was. It listed one death for every 291 colliers here, yet the average for the UK was one death in 676.

On 11th April 1891 the South Wales Daily News reported on TWO fatalities that had occurred at collieries in the Troedyrhiw area on the previous day.

My great-granduncle William Thomas, of 9 Upper Mount Pleasant in the village, was working in his stall at Brazil Level when there was “an immense fall from the roof” that completely buried him. It took his fellow workmen around half an hour to extricate him after which he died “within a few minutes”. A record in our family bible states that William was “Buried in Saron Graveyard 14th April 1891”.

Earlier on the SAME day Louis (Lewis) Knott, a mason who was living locally but originated from Devon, was killed when he fell some 150 feet from the top of a new chimney stack that was being erected at Plymouth (South Duffryn) Colliery. An inquest into this death found that “the deceased was standing on some scaffolding inside the stack and leaning over to point the outside bricks, when the brick-work gave way, and he was precipitated to the ground”.

These are but two examples of the all too common events that our coal communities once lived in constant fear of.

A very busy place!

When we look at the mountainsides above Troedyrhiw and other settlements in our valley today it is difficult to imagine that they were once alive with the activities of the coal mining industry. As I grew up in the village in the 1950’s and 60’s there was still quite a lot of evidence to be seen but by now most of this has been eradicated by the various developments that have taken place over the years.


In the Merthyr area and elsewhere many historic sites and structures from our rich industrial past have, sadly, been lost.

I was recently reminded of one such example when I came across an interesting article from the Merthyr Express dated 30 September 1976. This describes a ‘balance sheave’ which had stood in a quarry above Troedyrhiw and, from the 1830’s-40’s until the 1920’s, had been used to lower trams loaded with building stone down the mountainside.

I have clear memories of the remains of the balance sheave still being in place while I was growing up in the village through the 1950’s and 60’s and this seems to have survived until after extensive landscaping was carried out in, I think, the late 1970’s. Does anyone know how and why this important part of our heritage was allowed to disappear?


A memorial inscription found on a headstone in Saron Graveyard, Troedyrhiw refers to David Glyndwr Davies who was killed while “on active service” during World War Two. From the small amount of information that we have been able to gather it seems that:-

  • his maternal grandparents were David Williams (d. 1893) and Sarah Williams (d. 1938);
  • a birth for a David Glyndwr Davies was registered at Merthyr Tydfil for April 1918;
  • prior to his military service he had probably married Joyce E. M. Hills and had been living in Kent;
  • he was known as ‘Glyn’;
  • he held the rank of Lance Corporal in the Royal Engineers and his service number was 21275678;
  • he is buried in Woolwich Cemetery in London.

We are left wondering about a number of things including:-

  1. Was David Glyndwr Davies born and brought up in Troedyrhiw?
  2. Had he, perhaps, worked in the local mining industry before moving to the Kent coalfield to work?
  3. Should his name be inscribed on Troedyrhiw War Memorial as others who, at the time of their death, were former residents of the village are?
  4. Where did David Glyndwr Davies die?
  5. What were the circumstances of his death?

If you can provide any information that will help to unravel this puzzle we will be most grateful.



In addition to the names of 56 men from Troedyrhiw who lost their lives during the Great War of 1914 – 1918 Troedyrhiw War Memorial carries the names of an additional 17 men from the village under the following inscription:-

“In remembrance of those who made the supreme sacrifice in the Second World War 1939 – 1945.”


If you have information on any of those named above we would be most grateful if you would contact us at friendsofsaron@gmail.com

Some good news for a local heritage project

We realise that, whilst we are still in the grip of a terrible health crisis, this is no time for wild celebration but FRIENDS OF SARON are extremely pleased to confirm that extensive work on the boundary walls of Saron Graveyard, Troedyrhiw is due to begin once the contractors have resolved a few remaining issues. We are extremely grateful to both the landowner and leaseholder for making this possible. Ten years of pursuing our case through polite request and gentle persuasion seem to have paid off!  Our small group of volunteers look forward to continuing the programme of improvement work within the graveyard as soon as circumstances will allow. The ultimate success of this project will, however, require support from the local and wider communities to be expanded. Please help us in any way that you can. Contact us at friendsofsaron@gmail.com , via the Friends of Saron Facebook page or on 07854079361. Thank you.