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Mountain Ash, Rhondda Cynon Taf facts for kids

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Mountain Ash
Mountain Ash Town Hall
Mountain Ash is located in Rhondda Cynon Taf
Mountain Ash
Mountain Ash
Population 11,230 (2011)
OS grid reference ST025915
  • Mountain Ash East
    Mountain Ash West
Principal area
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf
Ceremonial county
Country Wales
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Postcode district CF45
Dialling code 01443
Police South Wales
Fire South Wales
Ambulance Welsh
EU Parliament Wales
UK Parliament
  • Cynon Valley
Welsh Assembly
  • Cynon Valley
List of places
Rhondda Cynon Taf
51°40′53″N 3°22′45″W / 51.68139°N 3.37916°W / 51.68139; -3.37916

Mountain Ash (Welsh: Aberpennar) is a town and former community in the Cynon Valley, within the County Borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales, with a population of 11,230 at the 2011 Census, estimated in 2019 at 11,339. It includes the districts and villages of Cefnpennar, Cwmpennar, Caegarw, Darranlas, Fernhill, Glenboi and Newtown, all within the historic county boundaries of Glamorgan. Aberdare lies about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) north-west, Cardiff 19 miles (31 km) south-east, and Penrhiwceiber a mile to the south-east. It divides into two electoral wards: West covers the town centre and the districts of Miskin, Darranlas, Fernhill and Glenboi, and East the districts of Cefnpennar, Cwmpennar, Caegarw and Newtown.


Unlike other villages in the South Wales Valleys, it remained quiet, being only disturbed in 1818 by the construction of the Aberdare Canal. It became disused in the early 19th century, filled in to form the New Cardiff Road in 1933.

The population of the village was 1,614 in 1841, rising to 11,463 in 1871 with the opening of local collieries. The 1851 census shows the construction of Duffryn Street and Navigation Street. By 1859 there were 12 public houses, some of the earliest being the Bruce Arms, the Junction Inn and the New Inn. By 1920, Kelly's Directory lists over 200 businesses within the village.

The coal industry had started to decline post the First World War, but after the Second World War factory industries were introduced to offset the serious fall in local mining employment. By the end of the 20th century the last coal mines had closed, and many of the town’s factories had ceased operation as well. New light industries and service activities only partly mitigated the resulting economic hardship.

Mountain Ash along with the rest of the Cynon Valley and all the other South Wales Valleys was predominantly a Welsh speaking valley up until the 19th century.


Former Bethania chapel, Mountain Ash (geograph 3845111)
Bethania Chapel
Our Lady of Lourdes, Mountain Ash - - 3826135
The Roman Catholic church of Our Lady of Lourdes

There were numerous nonconformist chapels at Mountain Ash. Of the Welsh language chapels only Bethania (Independent) remains open today. Bethlehem (Calvinistic Methodist) had closed. There was another Independent chapel at Bethel, Miskin.

Like other communities in the Cynon Valley, Mountain Ash was affected by the Religious Revival of 1904-05. One of the most striking events took place on a Friday evening in late January when a procession paraded through the main streets of the town before a revivalist meeting was held at Bethania Chapel addressed by the Rev Penar Griffiths.


The town is served by Mountain Ash railway station on the Aberdare branch of the Merthyr Line of the Transport for Wales rail network. The village of Fernhill and Penrhiwceiber is also served by the Aberdare line. Bus services are operated by Stagecoach in South Wales.

NCB Mountain Ash Railway

GWR 5700 Class no. 7754 at NRM
The ex-GWR Pannier Tank No.7754, in preservation at the Llangollen Railway. Through operating on the NCB Mountain Ash railway, it became the last British mainline-built operating steam locomotive in the UK, until it ceased operations in 1975.

An early British railway line had developed from the industrial development within the South Wales Valleys, which with its core around Mountain Ash became known as the Mountain Ash Railway (MAR). Having developed from an early tramway, it became in the 1970s the last steam-hauled line in the UK. Developed by Powell Duffryn as it consolidated various industrial assets, the railway started from Afon Cynon at the Penrikyber Colliery, headed north past a coal-stocking area at Pontcynon, then past an interchange yard known as Lansdale Yard, and through the former Nixon's Navigation colliery – home of the railway's central workshops, locomotive sheds and weighbridge – and on north past Duffryn Colliery, terminating at the Abercwmboi Phurnacite plant. The railway's main access to the UK rail network was at the Vale of Neath Railway's station at Mountain Ash (Cardiff Road) railway station, but it also had access to the competing, dominant Taff Vale Railway.

Early locomotives were drawn from all major UK industrial locomotive makers, but like many industrial railways after World War Two, the operational fleet was based on a core of group of Hunslet Austerity 0-6-0STs. In 1959 the National Coal Board (NCB) acquired the ex-GWR Pannier Tank No. 7754. Although rather too heavy to work on the relatively light rail of the MAR, whose poor maintenance resulted in regular spreading of the rails, it became a favourite with MAR crews after a refit in the late 1960s. It eventually became the last British mainline-built operating steam locomotive in the UK, until 1975 after a cylinder-valve crack. The NCB were persuaded to donate the locomotive to National Museum Wales, which has since loaned it indefinitely to the Llangollen Railway. The MAR closed in the mid-1980s after the miners' strike.

Sport and culture

Guto Nyth Brân statue, Oxford Street

Mountain Ash has a rugby union team, Mountain Ash RFC. The Rugby league club South Wales Scorpions also plays its home matches in Mountain Ash.

Nos Galan road race (Welsh: Rasys Enwog Nos Galan) is an annual 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) road running race, run on New Year's Eve (Nos Galan) to commemorate the first race of Guto Nyth Bran. Started in 1958, it now attracts 800+ runners and 10,000 people to the associated street entertainment.

The town also had an association football club, Tynte Rovers until it folded in 2019.

In 1974, Mountain Ash RFC Singers is a male-voice choir formed from a group of ex-players. Mountain Ash hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1905 and 1946.

Mountain Ash served as inspiration for the fictional town of Aberowen in Fall of Giants and the rest of the Century Trilogy written by Ken Follett. The town also appears in the Danny Wallace's 2005 memoir Yes Man.

In Literature

Mountain Ash served as the inspiration for the fictional town of Aberowen in Fall of Giants and the rest of the Century Trilogy written by Ken Follett.

Location Grid


Mountain Ash Comprehensive School caters for pupils aged 11–18, on the site of the former estate of Lord Aberdare. The main Dyffryn House was used by the school until its demolition in the 1990s. Opposite the site is the hospital, Ysbyty Cwm Cynon, that replaced the Mountain Ash General Hospital in 2012.

Local primary schools include Our Lady's RC Primary School, Caegarw Primary School (Ysgol Gynradd Caegarw), Glenboi Primary School (Ysgol Gynradd Glen-boi), Darranlas Primary School (Ysgol Gynradd Darren-las), Miskin Primary School (Ysgol Gynradd Meisgyn), Pengeulan Primary School (Ysgol Gynradd Pengeulan) and Penrhiwceiber Primary School (Ysgol Gynradd Penrhiwceibr).

Notable people

See also Category:People from Mountain Ash, Wales
  • Mark Brake (born 1958), author, broadcaster and communicator of science
  • Guto Nyth Brân (1700–1737), legendary Welsh athlete, once reputed to be the fastest man on earth
  • Howard Collins (born 1949), karate instructor
  • Pennar Davies (1911–1996), Congregational minister and author
  • Brian Juliff (born 1952), dual-code rugby footballer
  • Stuart Manley (born 1979), professional golfer
  • Elaine Morgan (1920–2013), BAFTA award-winning author
  • Haydn Morris (born 1928), international rugby union wing three-quarter
  • Harri Webb (1920–1994), poet and librarian
  • Richard "Dickie" Williams (1925–1997), rugby league footballer

See also

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