Little evidence remains today on the mountainsides above Troedyrhiw of the collieries (pits and levels) that once employed thousands of men and were the lifeblood of the village. ‘Plymouth’ (South Duffryn) Colliery on the east side of the valley between Troedyrhiw and Pentrebach and Castle Pit on the west side had both been sunk in the 1860’s and coal extraction from them had ceased by 1935 and 1940 respectively. The headstocks and some of the buildings could still be seen up until the late 1960’s – early 1970’s when the remains of Castle Pit disappeared under the new A470 trunk road and Plymouth Colliery was obliterated by pit waste cleared from the site of the Aberfan disaster and the land reclamation schemes that followed.
My late father Robert (‘Bob’) Collier produced this drawing of Plymouth Colliery from a postcard of the 1930’s.
Troedyrhiw has much to be proud of in its rich cultural heritage as these photographs of Troedyrhiw choirs shows. Rev Ben Davies, minister of Carmel Chapel from 1943 to 1960 (shown in the front row with arms folded in the photograph from the 1950s when he was the conductor) described Troedyrhiw in these words in 1952 “We have always excelled in group activities and there has hardly been a time in living memory when we have not had our football team, dramatic societies, village band and, of course, our choirs all highly successful”.
It is interesting to note that the choir in the 1930’s had over 300 members while that of the 1950s had around 150 and, in both cases, the ladies outnumbered the men by more than 2:1. I’ve also noticed the little boy at front left in the earlier photo.
1852 was a busy year for the construction of places of worship in Troedyrhiw. Saron Welsh Independent Chapel was being rebuilt on the same site as an earlier building in Chapel Street while Carmel Welsh Baptist Chapel was being erected in Wyndham Street and, on the other side of the valley, work on St. John’s Church was being completed.
The images are from a small booklet produced for the centenary celebrations in 1952 for St. John’s Church.
SARON GRAVEYARD, TROEDYRHIW
SATURDAY 17 NOVEMBER, FROM 10.00AM
Why not pop in to lend a hand for an hour or two or just to see what is being done? You will be made most welcome.
If you are interested in the local history of TROEDYRHIW and the quality of the environment in the village then please think about attending the next meeting of FRIENDS OF SARON. This will be held in the ANGEL INN in Bridge Street at 6.30pm on Friday 16 November.
It would be good to see you there.
Amongst the topics on the agenda are:-
- Securing a lasting legacy for the SARON GRAVEYARD POJECT following leaseholder funded repairs to the graveyard boundary and the completion of the volunteer led improvement programme.
- Unlocking modest levels of funding for certain aspects of the improvement programme as it works towards the creation of SARON MEMORIAL & WILDLIFE GARDEN as a community asset.
The next meeting of Troed-y-rhiw Local History Forum will be held next Thursday 15 November at Carmel Chapel in the village. The topic will be ‘A COAL COMMUNITY AT WAR 1914 – 1918.’ We are fortunate in having as our speaker for this event David Maddox OBE, Honorary Life Vice president WHSI.
The WW1 Centenary commemorations will, rightly, focus on those who served in the armed forces and in other ways and on the huge loss of life sustained on all sides in this conflict. There was, however, a significant level of opposition in this country to the War which cannot be ignored. The chapels had traditionally held pacifist views and the War caused a crisis of conscience within many. Others opposed the War on political grounds feeling that it was a ‘capitalist’ and ‘imperialist’ war and nothing to do with ordinary working people. The Independent Labour Party, which had a strong presence in the Merthyr area including in Troedyrhiw, was particularly active in promoting this position.
In the absence of many of the male population during World War 1, as later in World War 2, women took on many new roles. An interesting example is Alice Lidster who became station master/mistress of Troedyrhiw Halt when the previous holder of this post joined the army. She is thought to have been the first woman in Wales to have taken on such a position.
The War Memorial in Troedyrhiw Park was unveiled in 1921, possibly earlier than any of the others in the Merthyr Borough. It was paid for by public subscription which says much about the generosity of the people of the village. A committee was set up to organise the raising of funds and the design and erection of the memorial. A prominent member of the committee was Cornelius Pryce who was a monumental mason based in Troedyrhiw and the sculptor and architect of the memorial.