Merthyr Tydfil Industrial History

Merthyr Tydfil was once regarded as the industrial capital of the world.  With a wealth of local natural resources, including iron ore and coal, the South Wales town expanded rapidly during the early 1800s.  By the 1820s, 80% of Britain’s iron exports originated in Merthyr.  By the 1830s, the town’s Dowlais and Cyfarthfa works were the largest iron ore works in the world.  In early 2018, I had the opportunity to investigate and photograph remnants of that Merthyr Tydfil industrial history in Rhydycar West.  Evidence of old iron works and coal mines are scattered throughout the area, hidden in the overgrowth.  There are sealed off pit shafts, iron bridges and the Aberdare Tunnel.  Hidden deep in amongst the trees are the walls of a 300 year-old chapel.  With guidance from a local expert, I navigated the often treacherous landscape of sink holes and hidden shafts and captured images of Merthyr’s long-lost history.  I was amazed by the visual story of the Merthyr Tydfil industrial history that unfolded in front of me.  Hopefully, this heritage will be saved for future generations.

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