THE COAT OF ARMS AND SAINT TYDFIL
Upon becoming a Borough the Corporation commissioned one of the top
artists of the day, Sir Goscombe John, R. A. to design a suitable
Arms. (Goscombe John was fond of using traditional mythical
images and in 1906 he also designed the Fountain to the Pioneers
of the South
Wales Steam Coal Trade to celebrate the efforts of Robert
and Lucy Thomas in
steam coal trade).
It was decided that the central figure of the coat of arms should be St
Tydfil, as the whole parish is named after her and the original pre -
industrial small town grew up around the church dedicated to her.
The name Merthyr Tydfil means THE BURIAL PLACE OF TYDFIL.
Legend has it that Tydfil was the daughter of a 5th Century Chieftain,
Brychan, King of Breconshire. While visiting their sister Tanglwst in
Aberfan,Tydfil and her family were massacred by a band of marauding
who came over to Wales from Ireland. It is generally believed that
on the site of the Parish Church, which bears her name, having
pagans and refused to give up Christianity. Tydfil had many
sisters who became saints, including Saint Cynon. One of
Cadoc, became the Patron Saint of Brittany. Miracles
her grave and the shrine of St. Tydfil the Martyr soon
became a place
of Christian pilgrimage. In the Middle Ages a village
grew up around
the church. There was once a wooden statue in the church
representing Tydfil which was
probably carried out in a procession on her
Saints Day on the 23rd of
August. The Royal Charter was in fact formally
granted only 6 days
before the official Saints Day of Tydfil. This changed
Protestant Reformation and the statue was possibly destroyed in
century when Cromwell's troops were drinking in the inn
near the church.
significant that, although Merthyr Tydfil became a major centre of
and had no Roman Catholics until the Irish came in 1815,
the town never
abandoned the Celtic Saint, Tydfil although very little is
known about her.
There are in fact very few British towns named after a
female Saint and the association with
Tydfil is very
The later Merthyr Tydfil First World War Memorial has in its centre the
mythological figure of St Tydfil together with the images of a working
and a mother and child. All these figures are emblematic of sacrifice,
Tydfil was sacrificed for her religious beliefs, too often coal miners
sacrificed to the coal mining industry and mothers' always make
for their children.
The Borough Coat of Arms bears a likeness of St. Tydfil as the central
The heraldic description of the Borough Arms ( formally granted on
is as follows:-
'Azure a figure representing Saint Tydvil the Martyr, in Chief Two
Crosses patee fitchee all Or'.
Tydfil is represented as a hard working saint because in her hands she
distaff, which is used for spinning. The placing of the distaff as an
important symbol in the coat of arms is chosen to signify industry and
represent the proud industrial history of the new Borough of Merthyr
The daggers on either side of her head are meant to indicate the
and to remind us of how Tydfil met her death and that her life
sacrifice to God.
The motto on the coat of arms- 'Nid Cadarn ond Brodyrdde' is taken from
Old Welsh manuscript, 'The Sayings of the Wise' and means 'Not force
Fellowship'. There is nothing so strong as the bonds of brotherhood.
reflects the strength of Trade Union feeling and the strong political
The Borough' s Seal incorporates the Coat of Arms and has three circles,
each with individual illustrations, Morlais Castle ( the ancient links
Norman Lords ), Trevithick's engine ( the innovations and inventions
pioneered here ) and a blast furnace ( the industrial nature of Merthyr
THE MAYORAL CHAIN AND MACE
MAYOR'S CHAIN The Mayor's Chain was presented by the Member of
Parliament for the Borough, D.A. Thomas, later Viscount Rhondda. He
worked hard for the Royal Charter and Incorporation and offered the
the first Council meeting of November 9th, 1905. The Chain
consists of a
series of gold links with Badge of Office attached. The
Badge first has
crown with the figures 1905 underneath. Then comes
a red dragon;
the Borough Coat of Arms, surrounded by
Morlais Castle, Trevithick's
and blast furnaces.
MACE The town Mace is silver gilt and is four feet high. It has a
top, with the Royal Coat of Arms directly below. Then comes the Merthyr
Tydfil Coat of Arms. Other decorations include the Welsh dragon, the
rose, three goats and the letters M. AND T. intertwined. Its inscription
' Presented to Merthyr Tydfil Corporation by the Promoters of the
for the Charter of Incorporation for the Borough, August, 1909.
MAYORAL ROBES............these were also the gift of Viscount Rhondda
Merthyr Tydfil celebrated Charter Day on Monday July 10, 1905 with what
described in the Merthyr Express as 'magnificent demonstrations by
people, processions, speeches and a grand banquet. The day was
by the donation of £12,000 by Andrew Carnegie for a public
library. The day
was bright and sunny. Numerous buildings were gaily
the knowledge of the new status of the town seemed to bring
of pride to the ordinary citizens, as well as to civic dignitaries.
Hall was suitably adorned with a broad hanging of crimson cloth
fringe. Flags hung from every window. In front of the main
special platform was arranged for the speech-making. The
Band played to the huge crowd which had gathered
around the Town Hall.
The Borough of Merthyr Tydfil came into being on a wave of local pride
high hope for a better future.
A COUNTY BOROUGH IN 1908
It was not long before the Borough received further recognition.
Merthyr Tydfil had a population of 77,000 and a rateable value
On the 1st April 1908 Merthyr Tydfil was raised to the status of County
Borough, as set out in the County Borough of Merthyr Tydfil Order, which
been brought forward in 1907.
'Whereas the Borough of Merthyr Tydfil is under the management of the
aldermen and burgesses of the Borough of Merthyr Tydfil and is a
Borough within the meaning of the Local Government Act of 1888'.
The Corporation was able to construct street works, provide recreation
grounds, make better provision for the health, improvement and good
government of the Borough.
Following this Act, steps were taken to make many necessary
regard to housing, sanitation, leisure and hospital facilities,
and this was an
attempt to improve the town and make it a much healthier
place to live.
It was recognised that because of poor housing, occupational
diseases and a
number of other factors health was a key
Cyfarthfa Park, Treharris Park, Troedyrhiw
Pleasure Ground and later
grounds were all opened to the public. Improvements which were
on from Incorporation.