A busy town standing at the
head of the Taff Valley, Merthyr was the largest
iron-producing town on the globe in the 19th
century and played a pivotal role in the history
of modern Wales. |
The Richard Trevithick Monument in Merthyr Tydfil
Photo: Ray Jones CCL
|It was here
in 1804 that Richard Trevithick tested the
world’s first steam railway, the Merthyr
In the 1830s Merthyr’s population exceeded that of Cardiff, Swansea and Newport added together, giving rise to poverty, radicalism and the popularity of one of Wales’ most famous figures, Keir Hardy, Britain’s first socialist MP. The ‘red flag’ was created here in 1831 when rioters dipped their flag in the blood of a calf.
One of the town’s old iron
foundries is now a heritage centre while
Merthyr’s official museum and art gallery can
be found at Cyfarthfa Castle, one-time home of
ironmaster William Crawshay.
Another historic memento is the old cottage of the composer Joseph Parry. For railway enthusiasts the narrow-gauge Brecon Mountain Railway based at nearby Dowlais will prove irresistible.