About the Society
Historical Notes






The first method of transport was on horseback and by horse and cart. It appears that Aberdare was a good place for horses.

John Leland (Leyland), ‘Itinerary Through Wales’, 1536–39: “..to a place called Hirwaun Urgan where is, as in the Lordship of Mischen in the Paroch of Aberdayre, a great Race and Brodth of Horsis... a mile from Hirwaun Urgan is the forest of Lluid Coite, well woodid....... there is a bridge of timbre an 8 miles above the Town at Rigois”


The first stone bridge was built over the River Dare. It was the only bridge in the locality that would support the weight of a horse and cart but the village boasted only one cart and this belonged to Theophilus Richards the eminent Drover.


The minute books of the Parish Vestry contain numerous references to roads and bridges in the area. At a Vestry held on the 17th October 1817 pursuant to public notice....a meeting was held to consider steps to repair the bridge over the Dare. It was to be widened by 6 feet so as to be 13 feet in the clear. Repairs were also to be made to the abutments. The task was given to Evan Giles and David Williams, “to repair by 1st of January 1818”. At a Vestry meeting on January 9th 1818 it was decided that these should proceed with the bridge. Certain buildings in the way of construction should be moved etc.


The next bridge to be built was Pont Siencyn Arthur at the bottom of Harriet Street. It was erected by Thomas Dawkin and his son in 1829. The masons were Edward Jenkins and Thomas Thomas and the site of the bridge was Rhyd-y-Gorod where the water of the Cynon was diverted for the use of the old Llwydcoed Mill. Coping stones were of Radyr stone. The bridge was formerly known as New Bridge; Harriet Street as New Street and the nearby Company Shop as New Shop. Among the first clerks at the shop were Jenkin Rees grandfather of R.H. Rees and John Jayne, grandfather of Bishop Jayne.


The main road from Hirwaun to Mountain Ash through Aberdare c1835–40


This ran past the Mount Pleasant Hotel in Trecynon, Carmel C.M. Chapel, turned up to the White Lion Hotel where there was a Tollgate. It then went down the side of the present Gadlys Road, past Dover Terrace round the bottom of St. John’s Churchyard, along High Street past the Freemasons Arms through Wind Street into Cardiff Road. It passed through Sunnybank Street down through Ynyslwyd Road up to the Plough Inn, (then known as the Plough and Harrow), down past Aberaman Houses, Penrhiwfer, Abercwmboi Isaf to Mountain Ash. The area where Ysgol Comin and Margaret Street now stand was known as Cae Jaci. It contained a large pond where hundreds of ducks belonging to the surrounding cottages swum about.

The first houses built in Aberaman were known as Tai Gwdihw; so-called because of the numerous owls in the surrounding trees. They were later named Bedwlwyn Row. The old name for Aman Place was Pentre Pwmp and that of Kingsbury Place, Bryn Hurt. Mountain Road was first known as Tai Richard Jams, Y Pistyll and subsequently as Tai Glwyd Haearn. The houses were built by James Watkins who later emigrated to Australia. Alice Place was originally Tai Richard Rhys. Near the old Cwmaman Railway Station, there was a Cockpit – a favourite meeting place for the colliers and miners of the society.

Apart from the narrow road already mentioned there was no other except a bridle path built by Bacon for the transport of cannon. The stage coach from Merthyr to Neath staged at the Cardiff Arms in Hirwaun. The care of the roads was in the hands of the Parishes and also of the Road Trusts. On this point, see David Williams, ‘A History of Modern Wales’, 1950, particularly pp 191–193 and pp 206–211.

The Clerk to the North Glamorgan Road Trust in the early years of the 19th century was John Jones, (Druggist, Ceffyl Gwyn).




At a meeting of the Turnpike Trust held at the Black Lion in December, the following sums of money were granted:

1 £20..3..0 to Lewis Morgan to keep in good repair the road from Craig Evan Leyson to Mountain Ash Bridge
2 £1..0..0 to Henry Scales to do from Mountain Ash Bridge to Aman Bridge
3 £10..0..0 to G.R. Morgan, J.P. to repair Aman Bridge
4 £10..0..0 to E.L. Richards of Gadlys to keep in good repair the road from Aman Bridge to the Boot Inn
5 £7..0..0 to Roland Fothergill to do from Trap Bridge to Dare Bridge
6 £5..0..0 to W.W. Wayne to do from Dare Bridge to Heolyfelin
7 £20..0..0 to Philip Taylor to do from Heolyfelin to Hirwaun

1843 Oct

A Commission was appointed to enquire into the causes of the Rebecca Riots. Thomas Wayne as Treasurer of the Aberdare Turnpike Trust gave evidence.
The following was the Scale of Charges for the Gadlys Tollgate:


For horsedrawn narrow-wheeled carriage


For horsedrawn broad-wheeled carriage


For anyone riding


Lime was charged by the load

No toll for manure


The amount collected in 1843 at the Gadlys Gate was £169. The gate was abolished 1863. Detailed Schedule of Charges within the Aberdare Parish in 1844:—


1   For every horse or other beast drawing any coach, chariot, berlin, landau, landaulet, barouche, chaise, phaeton, vis-a-vis, calash, curricle, car, chair, gig, caravan, litter, hearse or suchlike carriage  6d


2   For every horse or other beast, except asses, drawing any wagon, wain, cart or any other suchlike carriage   4d.


3   For any ass drawing any cart, carriage or any other vehicle 2d.


4   For every horse or mule laden or unladen not drawing 1½d.


5   For every ass laden or unladen not drawing   ½d.


6   For every drove of oxen, cows or meat cattle the sum of 10d a score and so in proportion for any greater or less number.


7   For every drove of calves, hogs, sheep or lambs the sum of 5d per score and so in proportion for any greater or lesser number


8   For any carriage drawn or impelled by steam or other power than animal power having two wheels   2/-


9   For very last named carriage having more than two wheels 2/-






During the 1840s, there were frequent complaints about the bad state of the roads. A letter to a Local Paper in 1846 stated that along the main road particularly “near Aberaman Bridge and the Bruce Arms there were holes so deep that it was dangerous for carriages to pass along after dark”. Matters improved very little during the 50s.


“Report..... into the Sewerage, Drainage and supply of water and the Sanitary Conditions of the Inhabitants of the Parish of Aberdare”, T.W. Ramsell, 1853 p.12.

“The Highways of the Parish are now managed by a Board of Highways which was established about 4 years ago. The extent of the Highways is about 35 miles. The annual cost of repairing them is about £500 which sum is raised by a 5d rate upon the present valuation... in the repairs of the roads a good deal of limestone is used in addition to the common pebbles of the country. Cinders are also extensively used. These materials seem to answer the purpose very well and it was stated that there had been considerable improvement in the state of the roads since the Highways Act was established. Whilst at the same time expense has been reduced. Previously to the establishment of this Board, the highways were managed by overseers appointed by the 4 divisions of the Parish who were changed annually and who were unpaid. There are many road still in the town which have not been dedicated to the Public and those are nearly all in a very bad state and soon almost if not quite impassable. The footpaths of the town are made and maintained by the owners of the houses facing them.

Turnpike Roads. These are about 8½ miles long, which are all under the management of the County Roads Board. There is much complaint about the state of that portion of the Turnpike Road below Aberdare....many complaints were made about the state of the roads. Mr. David Davies, Surgeon, states, ‘The roads are so bad that they are not fit for a horse to travel upon. My horse is so accustomed to go upon the pavements that he will walk up steps as well as I can’. A reference to street lighting (Gas): ‘There is, however, no public lighting whatsoever; there are only 4 or 5 Street lamps in the place and those are paid for by private individuals.’ ”


In the early 60s, there were improvements and/or promises of improvements. The “Cardiff Times”, 11th, March 1864, Improvements at Aberdare, “The old Tramroad leading from Abernant House to Fiddler’s Elbow near St. Cynon’s Church is shortly to be converted to a good road”. 27th. March 1864, The same paper refers to an improvement in the road between Aberdare and Hirwaun.

1864 Oct

Again the “Cardiff Times”: – ‘Mystery seems to enshroud the intentions of the promoters respecting the formation of the new road which the Board of Health insists on having made by the makers of the railways from the Heathcock Public House to the Gadlys Office Gates. The owners and occupiers of Dare Villas and the houses on Brynhyfryd are much concerned over these deviations. They dread to think of the steps or slopes by which they will have to get from the present turnpike road (which will become a by-road to the new one).’


The Dare Valley Railway Co. began work on the diversion near the Gadlys Crossing in February 1865. By July of that year, the Gadlys Bridge was nearing completion.


Local cab stands were located at the following locations:—
1 Commercial Place
2 Taff Vale Railway Station
3 Vale of Neath Rly Station
4 Abernant Railway Station
5 At the junction of Whitcombe St. and Canon St.

1866 Sept

“Mr. D. Nicholas of the Queens Hotel has just added to his establishment a handsome new brake to carry 30 persons.”


1st Hansom Cab Licence granted at Aberdare to Mr. Hosgood of the Iron Bridge Inn, also, the 1st Hackney carriage licence – carriage was to carry 5 persons.


The River Dare was arched over between High Street and Duke Street.


From the Timetable of the Aberdare and Aberaman Omnibus Company Ltd.



Cap Coch

09.30 am


Aberaman Bridge

09.40 am


Swan Hotel Lamb and Flag

09.50 am



10.00 am



11.00 am


Lamb and Flag

11.15 am


Aberaman Bridge

11.25 am

Service 6 times a day.
Fares Aberaman-Aberdare 3d. Aberdare-Cap Coch 4d
Fares were charged in full even though only part of the journey was completed.
No deductions for breakages were allowed. From a local paper in 1873: “If one part of Aberdare requires demolition before another, it is that part of the High Street which clusters round the Farmer’s Arms between the bridge over the Dare and the top of Canon Street.” The road surveyor at the time was Mr. George Price.

1874 May

From a local paper: “At last, improvements in High Street. The four unsightly Almshouses, Nos. 21 and 22 High Street and Nos 1 and 2 Greenfach, are to be demolished”. (These Almshouses had been built sometime after 1724 by the Will of Eleanor Mathews.)

1888 Feb

At a meeting of the Local Board of Health, Mr D. Davies of Canon Street proposed, and it was carried unanimously, that a Petition should be presented to Parliament for the removal of the Aberaman Tollgate, “which injures trade between Aberdare and Mountain Ash”. A few weeks later, the editor of the Aberdare Times urged his readers to keep pressing for this reform. “If you do not keep grinding away at it, it will fall as flat as the Free Library Scheme.”

1890 Mar

The Aberaman Tollgate was removed. “This last vestige of an ancient and obnoxious impost has at last been removed.”

1892 Oct

Completion of the Maerdy Road. The Surveyor, Mr. Owen Williams, reported that it was 4¾ miles long from the Black Lion Hotel. It was 12 feet wide and it was decided that it should be marked with milestones.


The Council decided that the Maerdy Road should be widened to 16 feet. As Aberdare was in the throes of a bitter strike at the time it was decided to employ only married men with families. Part of the Abernant Road appeared to have been improved at the same time.

1892 July

Dr Roberts of Caerleon visited Aberdare and donated £200 towards the cost of making a Road and Bridge over the Railway to Robertstown.


There were 32 carriages and 42 omnibuses and brakes operating under licence for hire at Aberdare. The Local Board of Health refused licences to all those who failed to attend with their vehicles for annual inspection.


There were 41 cabs licensed to ply for hire in the town. The cab-stands were located at:—
1 Commercial Place opposite the Boot Hotel
2 Duke Street near the TVR Station
3 Abernant Road between the Ynys Playing Field and Nasareth Chapel
4 Near Abernant Station
5 Station Street near the Volunteer’s Arms
Fares were as follows 2 adults not exceeding 1mile: 1/-
every additional ½ mile 4d

Half fares for every additional passenger.

1896 Mar 27

At a meeting of the A.U.D.C., the question of street and pavement obstruction by pedestrians was considered.


A brand new thoroughfare known as Stuart Street, (Ael-y-Bryn Street) and some smart new villas on Abernant Road were built.


Tanybryn Street and Herbert Street were built by John Morgan and Son.


The total length of roads and streets repaired by the A.U.D.C. measured 41 miles 3 furlongs and 69 yards.

1899 Oct

A meeting of electors of Nos 1 and 2 Wards was held at Gadlys Baptist Chapel for the purpose of framing a resolution in favour of municipalization of the new Horseless Carriages.


Road Offences
Dangerous Driving: George Webb was fined 10/- for driving a cart without reins to his horse.


Speeding: Thomas Brown and Thomas Harries were accused under the Police Clauses Act of riding on horseback on Hirwaun Road to the danger of the Public. Mr. Gerry prosecuting said they were travelling at nearly 12 miles per hour. They were fined a pound each with costs. There were many examples of traders etc. fined for leaving their horses unattended.

1902 Nov

A deputation appeared before the A.U.D.C. to complain that a stand for hackney carriages at the top of Victoria Square would be dangerous.


A.U.D.C. spent £1,400 on repairs to Aberaman Bridge.

Although not connected in any way with Roads or Streets, it is interesting to note that the A.U.D.C. between 1904 and 1910 spent £2,412 in parliamentary legislation to prevent the Glamorgan County Council from encroaching on local waterworks.


A.U.D.C. spent £11,400 widening streets.


Cledwyn Terrace was built by D. Tyssul Davies. Permission was granted to him to lay water mains to the 15 houses in a field off Cemetery Road.

1912 Nov

Mr E. Stonelake moved that A.U.D.C. petition the Glamorgan County Council to limit motor-cars to a speed of 10 mph within the Urban Area. This was carried unanimously.

1912 Nov

Mr Harmston, President of the Chamber of Trade, complained about the filthy state of the cab-stand in Cardiff Street. He was told that tramcars would soon appear which would do away with the cab-stands.





1913 Oct 9

“The first electric car careered through the town at the alarming rate of 15 m.p.h.”
The undertaking began with 10 single deck tramcars and 8 trackless buses.

Statistics for the first Financial Year, October 1913 – October 1914


Total Number of Passengers Carried


Total receipts


Highest amount received during one week


Total no. of Car Miles run in 1st 6 months


Total no. of Car Miles run in 2nd 6th months


Total no. of Car Miles run in 1st year


Greatest number of passengers carried in one day


Receipts per Car Mile first 6 months


Receipts per Car Mile 2nd 6 months


The original service ran from the Cemetery Gates to Aberaman.

1914 Dec

The first motor taxi-cab was licensed in Aberdare.


Extensions were carried out to the tramway system. In October, the Aberdare Bill came under consideration before a Select Committee of the House of Lords. The opponents of the Bill were the Great Western Railway, the Taff Vale Railway, and the Powell Duffryn Co. Mr Clode, K.C., the leading counsel for the A.U.D.C. stated that the Urban District comprised an acreage of 15,183, had an estimated population of 53,427, 10,792 houses – a Rateable Value of £196,208 – an Assessable Value of £196,643 and an outstanding loan of £241,233. Parliament sanctioned the Tramway System in 1911 even though it would compete with the railways.

The trams had shown a profit but the trackless cars had not.

The proposed extensions were:—
1 Trecynon to Hirwaun
2 Aberaman to Cwmaman and Abercwmboi; and for the trackless routes to extend the existing services from
   1 Trecynon to Cwmdare
   2 Trecynon to Llwydcoed
   3 Abernant Road to Cwmbach

£49,756 was needed for the construction, equipment and trams, lines etc. and a further £8,500 for motor buses.

Evidence for the promoters was given by Mr. H.T. Goldsworth, Mr. Owen Williams, and Mr. E. Stonelake. The Proposed Bill was also supported by W.R. Morgan (Solicitor), D.R. Llewellyn, and R.H. Miles (Butcher and Restaurant Proprietor).

Opposing the Bill for the P.D.Co., Mr. E.M. Hann stated that the P.D. were the largest ratepayers in the district and since he thought that Hirwaun would not develop, the extra expenditure was not justified. In support, Mr. Dan Edwards put in a census of the people using the Hirwaun Road.

The case for the TVR was put by Balfour Brown, K.C. Mr. Robert Hammond argued that the population of the area did not justify making the trains compete with trams and buses.

For the GWR, Mr Charles Addington stated that his Company provided all the Transport necessary for Hirwaun. The Select Committee approved the Bill with the exception of the Hirwaun extension.

1915 Dec

Advert in the local paper for conductresses on the trams. Applications were to be in by January 1st.


Twelve were appointed. Wages were to be the same as for men except for half-wages during the period of training. Applicants were required to be residents of the Aberdare Urban District.


A.U.D.C. were responsible for the repair of 42 miles of roads. Tramways covered a distance of more than 3 miles (using a 3 foot 6 inches gauge) from the Cemetery to Clarence Street.

There were also 4 miles over which trackless cars operated viz.
Cemetery Road to Cwmdare
Commercial Street to Abernant
Clarence Street to Cwmaman


There were 26 tramcars in service including 16 double deckers. There were also 7 petrol electric buses and 3 trackless cars. There were 4 miles of tramways: Trecynon to Abercwmboi and later that year to Cwmaman.

Petrol electric buses covered 6 miles of routes viz.
Tram terminus to Hirwaun, Llwydcoed, Cwmbach and until the trams took over to Cwmaman.
Trackless Cars covered 1½ miles viz. tram terminus to Cwmdare and Abernant.



It appears that in 1898 there was an open motor carriage operating from Victoria Square to the Cemetery gates and back. The fare one way was 2d.