Llantwit Fardre Parish Council was formed under the 1894 Local Government Act and the first meeting was held on 1 January 1895. It continued in this form until 1974 when, on local government re-organisation, Welsh parish councils were re-titled community councils in deference to the disestablishment of the Church in Wales some 60 years earlier. The council have adopted the motto, carved over the entrance to the Carnegie Hall, "Goreu arf arf ddysg" being translated from the old Welsh to mean "The best tools are the tools for learning".
The Parish Hall
Built as a Carnegie Library in 1906 with a grant of £1,500. The architect is not known. Converted to the parish hall in 1964 when a new library was constructed to the rear. Refurbished in the 1980s and in 1996. A lean-to added on the W side has hidden some of the original openings, but these are visible in an early photograph.
In a free classical style. Single range with 2-storey 3-bay gable-entrance facade. Constructed of snecked rock-faced grey stone, rendered to the sides, on a dressed stone plinth under a slate roof. Prominent stone dressings painted white. Narrow outer bays support a triangular pediment which is broken by a wide segmentally arched tripartite window to the central bay. The outer bays are slightly advanced and have rusticated pilaster strips and billeted cornices. Each contains an oval window set in an architrave with scrollwork in relief. In the pediment is a scrolled ribbon reading 'Coreu Arf - Arf Dysc' (the best tools are the tools for learning), and a clock. Large square-section finial to gable apex with domed cap and dentilled arches to each face. The lower storey is advanced and contains a 3-bay porch. The porch was originally open, with 4 octagonal columns supporting a moulded cornice, segmentally arched over the central doorway and raised over the central columns in the form of capitals. These bear in relief 'AD' to the L and '1906' to the R. The outer parts of the cornice have foliate decoration in relief. The doorway now contains late C20 partly-glazed double doors, while the outer sides of the porch are infilled, each with a small window. The narrow outer bays, aligned with those above, have rusticated quoin strips with dentilled capstones and a narrow cornice with waved moulding. Each contains a lunette window.
The side walls are single storey. The E side has 6 window openings, all with segmental heads, a continuous hoodmould and multi-pane metal-framed windows. The 2nd window from the R has a doorway inserted partly beneath it. Short narrow rear range offset to E and appearing as a lean-to from front. Boarded door to S front under a segmental head, late C20 window to E side. Large flat roofed library to rear. The W side bears 2 windows as the E side and the jambs of a 3rd, to the L of which is a late C20 lean-to extension. An early photograph shows 4 windows with segmental heads, to the L of which there were 4 narrow round-arched lights.
Inside is an open hall with a stage at the N end with a panelled barrel roof. The moulded wooden ribs are supported on tall corbels set between the window openings. The roof has been strengthened by thin steel tie bars. Two pairs of moulded plaster ceiling roses decorated with flowers and foliage. Low dado rail with panelling beneath, blockwork floor and boarded doors. A doorway at the N end of the W side leads into a late C20 extension, to the L of which are 3 infilled windows, originally external. There are 2 offices to the rear, formerly occupied by the librarian.
The S windows contain Art Nouveau stained glass depicting vines. At the N end, on the stage, a war memorial and 3 brass plaques are fixed to the wall beneath a segmental arch. The war memorial is an exceptional design but the artist is not known. It is of cast iron with a moulded arched head and bears figures in relief. Two columns of names are flanked by pilasters bearing rifles and flags. Above is an inscription reading 'Erected / To the glory of God and in proud memory of those men of this parish who gave their lives ... during the Great War'. Above is a nurse flanked by a rifleman and a naval officer with ships in the distance. Beneath the names is a bi-plane and a festoon. Flanking these are '1914' and '1918' over a daffodil and leek, respectively. The brass plaques to the L and above are memorials to the Second World War and the Falklands War. That to the R records the opening of the library. It was erected through the generosity of Andrew Carnegie who presented £1,500 for the purpose, and it was opened on September 1st 1906 by the parish councillors and the Rev John Jenkins.
Reasons for Listing
Listed as a well-designed Carnegie library, in classical rather than the more common Art Nouveau/Gothic style, and for its social historic interest. The war memorial inside is of additional interest.
The villages of Tonteg and Church Village are next to each other and within the community of Llantwit Fardre which consists of the five villages of Newtown Llantwit, Efail Isaf, Tonteg, Church Village and Upper Church Village. At one time these were small villages quite separate from each other, but so many big housing developments have been built now that their boundaries are blurred. The area is rapidly growing, as it is a much sought after area to live in due to its proximity to Cardiff and Pontyclun. The villages are approximately ten miles north of Cardiff and three miles from Pontypridd and Caerphilly, South Wales.
Tonteg is to the north west of the Garth Mountain, it lies on a ridge high above the River Taff which flows from Merthyr Tydfil to the sea at Cardiff and is at the top of a hill known locally as PowerStation Hill. Church Village was historically known as Cross Inn and fell within the traditional county of Glamorgan.
The area can trace its history back to the Bronze Age.
A large earth mound, previously known as 'Coed-y-Twr' but today called 'Tomen-y-Clawdd' is the remains of a typical Norman motte and bailey castle. This had been built in this area to provide defence for the Taff valley against any Welsh chieftains who wished to attack the Normans. The earth mound has a flat top about 20 metres in diameter and the sides are covered with grass and trees, which makes it very attractive when the trees are in leaf. During the early years of the l0th century it still had a moat surrounding it, but today there is only a circular ditch covered with grass. The local inhabitants call it the 'Monkey Tump' and it used to be a popular place for children to play. But this is now discouraged as it is scheduled as an Ancient Monument. Today it is in the centre of the pleasant Oaklands Housing Estate and the residents there enjoy watching the changing colours of the trees.
Prior to 1950 Tonteg was a very small rural village with a few small shops and farms dotted around. The only new houses which had been built were by the local Council and formed a very small housing development surrounded by farmland. After the late 1950s the farms in the area gradually sold their land for housing development. Consequently the old farmhouses were demolished. However, one well known farmhouse is still standing, Maesmawr Farm. It is reputed that Charles I in 1648 spent the night at Maesmawr Farm and one room was known as the King's room. The land has been farmed by the same family for over 500 years.
Since 1960 Tonteg has expanded rapidly and is now more urban. However, there are still a few green fields within easy reach and pleasant places to walk. It is still an attractive place to live as there is no industry, just a small garage, a petrol station, two car showrooms, a sub-post office and a few shops of various kinds. Today many of the quaint old cottages have been demolished including the old Greyhound inn which according to an old photograph was frequented in 1900 and was situated on the main road near the crossroads. The only public house in the village was The Three Horseshoes but that is now offices. The village hall was a wooden building known locally as 'The Hut' and is used for various social functions. It has stood on this particular spot for many years.
In 1912 a hospital was opened at Tonteg as an Isolation Special Care Unit because this was then out in the country and considered a healthy place. Today the hospital is in disuse. A large general hospital opened in 1938 in Church Village: East Glamorgan Hospital. During the Second World War it was used by the Royal Air Force and in October 1992, Princess Diana opened the Children’s centre. It is now The Priory Hospital which offers therapies to women who have learning disabilities and other mental health conditions because a new hospital “Royal Glamorgan” was built near the town of Llantrisant in Talbot Green in 2000. The hospital serves the local communities together with the areas of Pontypridd and Rhondda.
The Cottage Homes, known as Garth Olwg, were built in 1892 and were founded to care for orphaned children. The cottage homes were built around a large square and there were 12 cottages and a school to accommodate the 250 orphaned child residents. While at the home, the children were given age appropriate chores and learned trades during their stay. In later years the children were educated at the local Llantwit Fardre School, together with the village children. The homes have now all been demolished.
A new home for the elderly has been built in the Garth Olwg grounds, and some of the very old buildings were used as a 'Welsh School', where children were taught through the medium of the Welsh language.
Church Village is the site of one of the newest school sites in Wales, which is called Gartholwg Community Campus. This initiative houses a primary school - Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Garth Olwg, a secondary school - Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg, a pre-school nursery, a community library, Lifelong Learning Centre and a Youth centre. Ysgol Gyfun Garth Olwg started life as the first Welsh medium school in South Wales and was known as Ysgol Rhydfelen which had been established in 1962 in Rhydyfelin, Pontypridd. As the school grew in popularity, extensive use was made of ‘portocabins’ to accommodate the growing numbers. The school buildings, however, were not of a suitable standard and in 2006, the school moved to its new site on the Garth Olwg Campus in Church Village.
One of the first open plan schools in the area was built in Tonteg. It opened as a primary school in January 1967, then in 1969 a separate infants school was opened adjoining it. Under the guidance of the head teacher and the PTA, funds were raised to build a swimming pool at the junior school and this was officially opened on 16th April 1977. In 1978 Ysgol Ty Coch opened as a residential special school for physically disabled children and is now a special school, providing education for pupils who have additional learning needs.
Gwauncelyn Primary School serves Tonteg and Llanilltud Faerdref Primary school serves Church Village, as well as the schools mentioned previously.
The main road from Pontypridd to Llantrisant passes through with housing developments on both sides of the road. This road (A473) was built originally in 1839 by Francis Crawshay, one of the early ironmasters of Merthyr who lived at Treforest, as a way to his country house at Hensol Castle. His house at Treforest is now part of the Glamorgan University.
Two railway lines used to pass on the edge of Tonteg and the village boasted a halt. One line travelled from Pontypridd to Barry, owned by the Barry Railway Company, which villagers used regularly in the summer on their excursions to the seaside at Barry. The other railway was from Pontypridd to Llantrisant. This line closed in 1951 and the Barry line in 1958. Both lines today have been demolished and parts are overgrown with grass and brambles.
Tonteg used to have at differing times two stations – both called Tonteg Halt railway station – on two former railway lines that ran nearby; Barry Railway and the Llantrisant and Taff Vale Junction Railway. After 1930 the original Tonteg Halt was moved to Tonteg Junction after track rationalisation; the name was used for this station.
The existence of the railways in the area around Power Station Hill has been obliterated by the Church Village bypass (described below), though some remnants exist between Tonteg and Treforest and to the south of the village towards Church Village.
Rhondda Cynon Taf, the local authority, has constructed a bypass to reduce traffic congestion on the A473, Pontypridd to Bridgend (Welsh: Penybont ar Ogwr) road, at Tonteg, Church Village (Welsh:Pentre’r Eglwys) and Llantwit Fardre (Welsh: Llanilltud Faerdref). The Church Village bypass, as it is known, is built as a single carriageway, with crawler and overtaking lanes around roundabouts and was completed in Autumn 2010, after 30 years of campaigning by local residents for a bypass to relieve the congestion along the main road.
Places and people
The main meeting place in Church Village is known as The Parish Hall, where the two Women's Institutes (Tonteg and Church Village) used to meet, together with functions arranged by many other organisations and committees of various community interests. The Parish Hall was first known as The Carnegie Free Library. £1,500 was given by Mr Carnegie for the building of a new library. A very fine building was built, and opened to the public on 2nd September 1906. Beautiful oak shelves, tables, and reading racks were installed, and the library was in daily use as a reading room, and for the borrowing of a great variety of books. In 1965 Mid Glamorgan County Council decided to build a new library in Church Village. The beautiful old library, oak tables, bookcases and reading racks were all dismantled, and the building was transformed into our present Parish Hall. A new modern library was built to the rear of the hall and is now located at Garth Olwg Lifelong Learning Center, with the old library being used as council offices.
The parish church is situated in Upper Church Village, and is dedicated to St Illtud, whose memory is associated with the 5th century monastic college at Llantwit Major. The church is on a site which has been used for worship since the 5th century, although the present building dates from 1525. The tower dates from 1636, and the registers from 1632. In the early 1970s the church was restored and now has an attractive and modern interior.
The tradition of the Nonconformist movement was well established in Church Village. The earliest building was Bryntirion Welsh Presbyterian Church which dated from the Methodist foundation of 1740. Sadly this old building was closed in 1961 and later demolished, and in 1985 the sister church of Bethesda Llantwit Fardre was also demolished. The small Wesleyan Methodist Chapel at Church Village also suffered the same fate. Thus by 1993 the Methodist cause in the area had been brought to an end.
In 1874, Salem Welsh Baptist Church was built in Hollybush, Church Village, after early Baptist worshippers had been meeting in various private houses. From 1844-54 they had worshipped in the long room of the Cross Inn at Church Village. It was at the present church of Salem at Hollybush that John Hughes was a precentor, as his father had been before him. John Hughes, composer of the hymn tune Cwm Rhondda, was born at Dowlais in 1873. He moved with his family to Hollybush, Church Village in 1874. He started work at 12 years of age as a door boy at Glyn Colliery. Later he served as a clerk and subsequently as an official in the Traffic Department of the Great Western Colliery. He married Hannah Maria David in 1905 and they came to live at Tregarth, Main Road, Tonteg, where he remained until his death. He composed a number of Sunday School marches, anthems and hymn tunes. The most famous was Cwm Rhondda originally known as Rhondda, which he wrote in 1907 for the anniversary services at Capel Rhondda, Pontypridd. He set the tune to the English words of William Williams, Pantycelyn. John Hughes died on 14th May 1932, and is buried at Salem chapel. A marble tablet to his memory is placed near the pulpit, and his tunes are still sung in many of the services.
His only surviving descendant, his granddaughter, Miss Ann Webb, unveiled a commemorative plaque at Tregarth, Tonteg, on 25th October 1987.
Many buildings were demolished to widen the main road as it can be seen in the book Under the Parish Lantern-Revisited.
PowerStation Hill gets its name from the Upper Boat power station which was situated at the bottom of the hill until it was demolished in 1972. A significant part of the Treforest Industrial Estate falls within the Willowford area of Tonteg.
There has been a considerable change in the industrial scene of Church Village. Employment from heavy industry such as coal mining or production of electricity at Upper Boat Power Station is now redundant.
There was a colliery named "Cwm Colliery" in Beddau, that was sunk in 1909. No coal was actually extracted until 1914, however, and then it came from two shafts, Margaret and Mildred which were over 750 yards deep. In 1928 the colliery was taken over by Powell Duffryn Associated Colleries Limited, and at this point it employed over 1000 men. It operated under their name until 1948 when the National Coal Board (NCB) was established to manage the nationalised coal industry in the UK. The NCB updated the colliery in a massive £9 million redevelopment between 1952 and 1960. This included connection Cwm (pronounced "Coomb") to Coedely Tonyrefail, and of course building a massive Cokeworks, Cwm Coke. In the 70s, the cokeworks alone employed 1,500 men and produced some 515,000 tonnes of coke each year. It continued to do so until 1986, when the NCB was privatised. The colliery ceased production at this point, but the cokeworks were bought buy CPL Industries and continued producing coke right up until 2002. It would have remained open had it not been for the fact it was extremely outdated, in desparete need of modernisation and no one was willing to invest in new technologies..
There were many other small coal mines in the Parish of Llantwit Fardre. “The coal was used for heating houses and burning lime for industrial purposes”.
The Power Station of the Electricity Board has been demolished, and the once flourishing Treforest Industrial Estate now has fewer working factories. Church Village was the location for the Systems Operations Eastern Control Centre for the South Wales Electricity Board offices. There used to be a Tupperware® distribution depot at Llantwit Fardre. Giles Montague-Smith and Bernard Friese founded Gilbern Cars in 1959 in Pentwyn House. The Gilbern Factory buildings are still used in the motor trade.
Gwynt-y-Draig, the company behind the award-winning cider is based in the area. Here is what they say about how the business started and evolved:
“ In the autumn of 2001 we made our first few barrels of cider on the home farm here in Llantwit Fardre, South Wales. What started as a hobbyist’s experiment quickly became much more serious and an expanded selection of draught and oak-matured bottled ciders followed – each refined over time. The result is, what we believe, some of the finest traditional ciders available. Placing flavour and quality at the core, our range is still traditionally made here on the farm using carefully selected ingredients, simple recipes and striking blends. Now world-renowned, Gwynt Cider is available in 7 countries around the world. We’re proud to be multiple award-winning, and refreshingly Welsh!”
Some famous people come from the area: Gethin Jenkins, Phil Campbell (from Motorhead), Alun ap Brinley , Amy Wadge, Kelly Morgan, Neil Jenkins...
The area is a centre of activity today as it has been throughout the years - a centre of educational, religious, and sporting activities. Times and styles change, but life goes on, and people still go about their simple daily living with the same care and diligence as in days gone by.
Most of the Glam Girls are working women and not all women are originally from the area (members come from the USA, France, Ireland, England...), which explains the appeal of a WI that gathers in the evening.