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Merthyr Tydfil

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The place meaning Abercannaid is from aber  means ‘mouth of a stream or river’    The word cannaid is a scarcely-used adjective meaning ‘white’ or ‘bright’ or ‘glittering’;  aber cannaid , the ‘white or bright river-mouth’ .  When large-scale iron-making began in Merthyr Tydfil around 1750, the centuries of rural farm-life at Abercannaid gradually ended. The first farm home­stead,  referred to in the Senghenydd manorial records for 1449, was probably near the original, now long-lost, confluence of the stream Nant Cannaid with Afon Taf. In the 1790s, the Glamorgan Canal Company leased land here. Apart from the canal, there were several bridges, an overflow channel from the canal to the river, a dock for canal barges built c.1849, and a quay for loading coal. Some older residents may recall playing alongside the dock, with its fine cut stone rims, and on the old cast iron bridge. Around 1815 the freeholder of Aber­­cannaid was Rowland Thomas and the lessees were Samuel Morris, the farmer, and Richard Hill of the Plymouth Iron Company. The first Aber­cannaid colliery pre-dates1817and the later one was sunk around the 1830s. Glyndyrys borders the upper Aber­cannaid community and the Glyndyrys Pit was an important coal mine here. The original settlement of Abercannaid comprised two parallel rows of cottages, with a mine to the west and a range of farm buildings and farmhouse lay just west of the ‘parish road’ and the Glamorgan canal. The main course of the river was possibly straightened for the construction of the Taff Vale Railway in the 1830s. It is mistakenly said that Sir William Lewis, Lord Merthyr was born in the large villa called Aber­cannaid House but the census of 1841 shows him living in Plymouth Street as a young child. A Welsh Baptist chapel, Shiloh Chapel, was shown by 1878, while north of Abercannaid were two engine houses, an adjacent airshaft, and ironstone level, all of which appear to have been redundant by 1919.  This was an ‘industrial’ village with coal-mining the main occupation here. The fields on either side of the re-routed Afon Taf and Taff Vale Railway, and either side of the road to Abercannaid from the Brandy Bridge, were covered in waste tipping from the former Plymouth furnaces. By then the furnaces were in ruins, with the remains of the old rail bridge over the river and railway. To the south was an enormous waste tip deposited by the Abercannaid colliery. Until the 1960s local children played all over this area amongst these ‘industrial remains’ and climbing the tip was like conquering Everest!

Robert and Lucy Thomas, the early pioneers in the coal industry to whom the Merthyr  Tydfil Fountain is dedicated, came here and exploited the coal. They lived at Colliers Row in 1805 and at ‘Cwmcannaid’ in 1816.  In 1824, Robert Thomas was given permission by the Plymouth estate to work for coal on Tir y Waunwyllt. Later he applied to the Glamorgan canal company for permission to build a wharf adjoining the farm of Glyndyrys. The bridge oddly called Pont Racks was built around 1850/1855 according to Bridges of Merthyr Tydfil  by Leo Davies, and was used to take the trams from Waunwyllt colliery across the Glamorgan canal. As well Abercannaid House and the White Hart Inn, the Thomas family owned over 40 houses in this small community.

The village expanded in the late 1970s with modern housing at Anthony’s Grove, near the site of the former Graig Pit. Three of the old public houses remained, The Colliers Arms, The Llwyn yr Eos and the Richards Arms. In 1986 a group of 1840s workers’ houses known as ‘The Squares’ were demolished but other parts of Upper Abercanaid have been made a conservation area. The area has changed since the time when the singer Petula Clark was a child and visited her grandparents in Abercanaid.



Brandy Bridge September 30th 1933


Abercanaid, Quay Row. Abercannaid House, the Large House with the Monkey Puzzle tree

was said to be the birthplace William Thomas Lewis, later Lord Merthyr, one of the last of the Coal Barons

-(photograph taken in the 1970's.)

Abercanaid_Upper_Vicarage.JPG (217073 bytes)

This photograph from 1910, from a similar 

viewpoint, shows the the Canal and Quay.

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Abercanaid House


Quay Row in the Snow

(Photograph Courtesy of the Kenneth J. Gunter Collection)

Abercanaid, General View

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Abercanaid in the 1990's

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The Board / Abercanaid School

(Photograph Courtesy of the Kenneth J. Gunter Collection)


Abercanaid - Post Office

Cardiff Street , showing Zion Chapel.

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Zion Chapel - Abercanaid

(Photograph Courtesy of Steve Brewer)


Street Party at Gethin Street

Nigel Phillips - Gunter tells us that this photograph is of the Street Party held on  King George V’s Silver Jubilee in May of 1935. The lady at the far end with a crown on is my

Grandmother Blodwen Phillips nee Evans. My mother Laura Phillips wasn’t born until October of 1936 but the girl with a blue ink cross on the left is my Aunt Virginia [aka Virgie]

born 1924 & the boy on the right with a blue ink cross was my mother & Aunt’s brother & my Uncle Roy who was born 1930. (Photograph Courtesy of the Kenneth J. Gunter Collection)


Street Party at Nightingale Street, to celebrate the Investiture of Prince Charles, 1969.

(Photograph courtesy of Anita Rees)


Rugby Team outside Greenhill, Cardiff Street

Shirley Rose (now Vaughan) of Ystrad Mynach tells us that she believes that here Grandfather William John Phillips of Cardiff Street (Born 1882) is on the extreme left 2nd Row.

(Photograph courtesy of Tim Phillips)


Rugby Trip to Scotland - Outside the Richard's Arms

(Photograph Courtesy of Anita Rees)



David Square - Built about 1850


Davis Square, on the 9th July 1949




The Free Library

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Deml Chapel

(Photograph Courtesy of Steve Brewer)


Abercanaid Thursdays Cricket Club. Unbeaten Champions.1935. Merthyr & District League.

Back Row L-R:- R. Saunders, D.T. Jones, E, Williams, H. Sleeman, R, Davies, E. Jones, Sergt. Davies, W.J. Williams, W. Ford, A. Morgan, W. Hale, J. Goring Thomas.

Middle Row L-R:- D.W. Thomas, J. Griffiths, Ll. Richards (Capt), I. Jones, T.E. Davies.

Front Row L-R:- G. Beavan, W.J. Lewis, H. Thomas, Inset- E. Harris, D.E. Watkins, E. Thomas, B. Walters.

(Photograph courtesy of Rod Thomas)

Rod tells us

"This picture is self explanatory except that my father is E. Thomas (Eddie) and his older brother D. W. Thomas (Walter who kept the drapery shop in

Gethin Street) and younger brother H. Thomas (Harold who lived most of his life in 1 Chapel Street and his son, Gareth still lives in the village)"


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