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Merthyr Vale

Merthyr Tydfil


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Merthyr Vale was a coal mining community which sprung up in the 1870s around the  colliery sunk by John Nixon between 1869 and 1875, which was originally called the Taff Colliery. The sinking of the Colliery took over six years to complete and when the first coal was brought up there was a celebration in the Windsor Hotel. The name new name of Merthyr Vale for the area around Ynys Owen possibly developed after the Taff Vale Railway Station post-1841 which adopted this title. Although originally named the Taff Colliery, the coal mine here came to be called Merthyr Vale Colliery.

Ynys Owen: Owain’s riverside meadow. Some people have claimed that this place name possibly commemorated Owain Glyn Dwr, whose followers were involved in an uprising shortly after 1400, but there seems to be no obvious reason to name a field here after him and it may well be called after another Owain. However, it was written as Ynys Owen as early as 1630.  The narrow Valley sides and floor were heavily wooden and there were some traditional Welsh long-house farms. This area was a quiet rural community, until the sinking of a large colliery here, although a small scale colliery existed earlier at Danyderi and Perthygleision,  the main occupation here was farming until the 1870s.

The communities of Merthyr Vale, Nixonville and Mount Pleasant grew up to house the coal miners of the new colliery and their families. The housing in the area came after planning regulations had started in the Parish and so had effective sanitary and water supplies from the beginning. Hotels, public houses, clubs and chapels soon appeared to fill the leisure time.  The religious buildings were Zion, Baptist, Calfaria, Welsh Baptist Bethel, Wesleyan Methodist, Disgwylfa, Calvinist Methodist and Trinity, Presbyterian. Zion and Calfaria merged in 1974 to form the modern Baptist Church at Nixonville. It contains the first fibre-glass Baptistry built in Wales. St Benedict’s Roman Catholic Church was built in 1932. The Anglican Church of St Mary and Holy Innocents was built in 1974; replacing the earlier church which was built, with help from Merthyr Vale Colliery, in 1926.  The MacIntosh pub house, the Mack, was a popular ‘watering hole’ here but has now been converted to a residential dwelling.

Schools also quickly developed here, the former Merthyr Vale School was built in 1879 and the old Mount Pleasant School dates from 1912. An important institution here is the Gordon Lennox Constitutional Club which was built about 1901. It is associated with Gordon Lennox the proprietor of the Brown-Lennox Engineering Company at Pontypridd.  Mr. Gordon Lennox was President of the East Glamorgan Conservative Association for many years after 1885.  There were a pair of skis on display in the club belonging to an Irish Arctic explorer.

The major historical event here was during the Second World War; when two Canadian Royal Air Force Planes collided overhead in July 1941. One crashed into the house of the Cox family, claiming the lives of Doreen Cox, her two daughters and also the two pilots. There is a mural on the spot dedicated to the sad incident. Merthyr Vale was greatly affected by the tragedy of Aberfan in 1966 The Coventry Playground was built in 1972 on the site of the old Merthyr Vale School. The money for this playground was collected by the people of Coventry, following the Aberfan Disaster and was officially opened by the mayor of Coventry.     

Currently Merthyr Vale is undergoing an extensive redevelopment programme.



The Flight.

Erected to protect the main road from debris falling from the aerial ropeway carrying waste from the Merthyr Vale

colliery. Kings Hill and Troedyrhiw in the distance.

(Courtesy of Maureen Hughes)

General View Merthyr Vale and Aberfan. 

(Postcard courtesy of Gill Thomas, West Grove, Merthyr Tydfil)

MerthyrVale&Aberfan_GeneralView_ETBush2741_MrsThomas.JPG (184547 bytes)

General View Colliery & Merthyr Vale, Aberfan. 

MerthyrValeColliery_ErnestTBush_3280.JPG (163732 bytes)


Merthyr Vale - General View of Colliery and Merthyr Vale

(Photograph Courtesy of Dilwyn Evans)

Looking over Merthyr Vale Colliery towards the Aberfan Tips

(Photograph courtesy of Dennis Bennett OBE)


The Square Merthyr Vale.

(Postcard courtesy of Gill Thomas, West Grove, Merthyr Tydfil)

MerthyrVale_TheSquare_MrsThomas.JPG (131550 bytes)

Station Square.

MerthyrVale_StationSquare.JPG (126000 bytes)

Disgwylfa Chapel.

Disgwylfa_Chapel_Merthyr_Vale.jpg (126000 bytes)

Disgwylfa Chapel, interior 1.

(courtesy of Mrs Kitty Walters)

Disgwylfa_Chapel_Merthyr_Vale_interior.jpg (126000 bytes)

Disgwylfa Chapel, interior 2.

(courtesy of Mrs Kitty Walters)

Disgwylfa_Chapel_Merthyr_Vale_interior(2).jpg (126000 bytes)


Merthyr Vale Police Station

Seen here with John Hurt in the 1970 film '10 Rillington Place'


Cemetery Buildings.

Tony Pristavec tell us that the caption on this postcard is incorrect, it is infact Aberfan Cemetery.

  Merthyr Vale - General View from the Quarry.   A similar View, (Postcard courtesy of Greg Buick)  

MerthyrVale_GeneralViewFromTheQuarry.JPG (104995 bytes)

Merthyr Vale Colliery.
MerthyrVale_Colliery_1900.JPG (112910 bytes)

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Photographs of

Merthyr Vale

(Nixon's Navigation)


Nixonville - 1970's

Gordon Lennox Constitutional Club in 1994

Oaklands Garage.

Alan's father Alby George, kept the garage at one time.

MerthyrVale_OaklandsGarage.JPG (54834 bytes)


Saint Benedicts's, Merthyr Vale.

(Postcard courtesy of Mr Thomas, Risca).


Saint Benedicts's - Interior, Merthyr Vale.

(Postcard courtesy of Mr Thomas, Risca).

Station Terrace - 1910.

MerthyrVale_StationTerrace_1910.JPG (122898 bytes)

Lewis Place - Merthyr Vale

Edith Rees & Clifford Edwin Rees

Outside 1 Lewis Place

(Photograph Courtesy of Richard Rees)

Possibly Lewis Place?


(Photograph Courtesy of Richard Rees)

Saint Mary's Church.

MerthyrVale_StMarysChurch.JPG (136633 bytes)


First Quoits - June 3rd 1950

Graham Welton throwing the first quoits at the Mount Pleasant Hotel, Merthyr Vale. The match was between

Merthyr Vale and Ystrad Rhondda.

(Photograph from the Merthyr Express)


Merthyr Vale Silver Band.

(Photograph courtesy of Carl Llewellyn)


Merthyr Vale Male Voice Choir 1908.

(courtesy of Malcolm Davies)


Gypsy Band - 1950 - Clive Place, Merthyr Vale

(Photograph Courtesy of Terry Sargeant, Many thanks to Robert E. Richards for Information)


Merthyr Vale Silver Prize Band

(Photograph Courtesy of the Kenneth J. Gunter Collection)


Merthyr Vale Rugby Team  1926 - 27

Front Row Sitting on Grass L-R :- Cyril Thomas, (Insert)  ?, ?.

(Photograph Courtesy of)


Taff Street Merthyr Vale - 1965

Monday washing day in the gardens!

(Photograph courtesy of David Chillcott)


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