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Images of Wales

Where's that?? - locate Ebbw Vale on a map of South Wales.

Ebbw Vale (Glyn Ebwy), Monmouthshire

Photography by John Ball - 14 March 2003 (and June 2000)
(with a Fuji FinePix S602 Zoom digital camera, except where indicated)

I visited Ebbw Vale on a clear sunny day in March 2003 to take photographs for a client in Ohio, USA. The feature below includes a selection of these photographs, supplemented by two shots taken on a hot and hazy day during a previous commission in the area.

Ebbw Vale was originally a rather insignificant spot with only about 140 inhabitants at the end of the 18th century, but was transformed by the opening of the Ebbw Vale Iron Works (later to become the steelworks) in 1778. This was followed by the opening of a number of coal mines around 1790. By the mid 19th century, Ebbw Vale had become a great steelmaking centre.

Ebbw Vale
Scanned from a colour photograph taken in June 2000

Above: Ebbw Vale, viewed from the north.

The following description of Ebbw Vale is transcribed from Kelly's Directory of Monmouthshire, 1901:

EBBW VALE is a parish constituted by Order of the Monmouth County Council, confirmed by an Order of the Local Government Board, dated November 19, 1894, and previously formed into an ecclesiastical parish in the year 1870 from the civil parishes of Aberystruth and Bedwellty, comprising the following places: Ebbw Vale, Briery Hill, Newtown, Pontygof and Victoria.

These closely adjoin each other, and are all in the vale of the Ebbw Fawr river, in the Northern part of the county, bordering on the county of Brecon, 179 miles from London, 2 east from Tredegar, 20 north-west from Newport, 10½ south-west from Abergavenny, in the Western division of the county, hundred of Wentloog, petty sessional division and union of Bedwellty, Tredegar county court district, and in the rural deanery of Blaenau Gwent, archdeaconry of Monmouth and diocese of Llandaff.

The houses are for the most part small, being occupied by the workmen employed in the iron and coal works, which is the sole industry. The Ebbw Vale and Victoria stations in this parish are on the Great Western Railway, and a third station at Ebbw Vale belongs to the London and North Western Railway Co., who have a branch from here joining the Abergavenny line near Beaufort station.

Ebbw Vale is lighted with gas by the Beaufort Gas Light Co. and the Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Company Limited, and is supplied with water from works in Llangunider parish.

Christ Church is a building of red sandstone, with Pennant stone dressings, in the Early English style, and consists of chancel, nave, aisles, western porch and tower at the south-west angle containing one bell; beneath the church is a spacious crypt, in which Welsh services are held: there are 750 sittings, 300 being free. The register dates from the year 1870. The Catholic church, dedicated to All Saints, was built in 1865, and there are also Calvinistic Methodist, Congregational and Wesleyan chapels. The Literary and Scientific Institute is a very commodious building with a good lecture room, library, containing about 6,000 volumes, reading room and science and art class rooms.

The works of the Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Company Limited occupy a large portion of the valleys of the Ebbw and Sirhowy rivers; here railway iron, Bessemer and other steel rails, and every description of manufactured iron and steel are produced in immense quantities; the company are brick makers and also the owners of very large collieries, and ship coal to all parts of the world. They have now six 60 feet blast furnaces, intended to produce together 3,900 tons of pig iron weekly.

Source: Kelly's Directory of Monmouthshire, 1901 on the website of the late Bryan Morgan.

Ebbw Vale
Above: Panoramic view of Ebbw Vale tin-plate works (foreground), and Ebbw Vale town (beyond).
The view was taken from the south-east. The works, lately owned by Corus UK, finally closed in July 2002.

Ebbw Vale
Above and below: Views south down the valley from the bridge over Steelworks Road.
Ebbw Vale
Scanned from a colour photograph taken in June 2000

Ebbw Vale
Above: Station Hill, viewed from Libanus Road.

Memories of Station Hill

In January 2006 I received fascinating additional material about Station Hill, sent in by Nadine, a former resident of Ebbw Vale. With her kind permission, an edited version of her comments and memories follows.

I was very pleased to see the photos of Ebbw Vale. So much has changed there now, and parts are hard to recognise, but the photo of Station Road brings back oh so many memories. What a state it is in now! The shop that is now boarded up belonged to my parents Blodwen and Bert Weller in the mid 1950s. We had a small fancy goods shop there. We were the first in the Valleys to make and sell artificial flowers. People from all over the Valleys came for the stock, and we built up a great clientele. We bought jewellery from Petticoat Lane in London, brought it back, and sold out in a week!

The week we opened, the shop was quite hectic, as people had never before seen the sort of things we stocked. My parents were very 'with it' and had stock way beyond the times. And the day we opened, we almost sold out and the shelves were empty for the rest of the week, until my mother could get to Cardiff and London for more. It was a tiny shop and it was elbow-room only that week!

We were the first in the area to start a Christmas club, with people coming in each week and putting things by for Christmas and paying so much a week. At the back of the shop was a flight of stairs, that were shut off from the house next door, (the people who lived there owned the building, and we paid £1.00 a week rent. The staircase was used as a store-room for the goods put to one side. It was full to the brim around Christmas time.

The big old house next door was very grand back then, and a very sedate lady used to collect the rent. Station Hill was used by the miners on their way home from their shifts - they would pass by covered in black coal dust - and of course the hill led to the bottom station and the main railway line to London, via Cardiff. I can remember as a young girl going down to the station with a crowd of people to see a family from Pennant Street off to Australia. As the train pulled out of the station, everyone sang ''We'll Keep A Welcome...''.

Many people knew Station Hill as Comers Hill, because Comers, a well-known greengrocer's in town, also had a small shop next door to ours on the hill. You can just see part of the shop next door to ours in the photo. I have no idea what it is nowadays.

It is so sad to see our shop in such a state of neglect, especially as it was so successful all those years ago. Sadly, I do not have any old photos of the shop, so I would be very interested if anyone knows if one exists.
E-mail me (Nadine) at

Nadine kindly sent me the two photographs (below) of Eureka Place, Ebbw Vale, where she lived in the 1940s. The left-hand photo was taken during the severe winter of 1947. The right-hand photo was taken recently from almost the same spot.

Eureka Place 1947   Eureka Place
Above: Eureka Place, Ebbw Vale.

Ebbw Vale
Above: Old shops in Libanus Road.

Ebbw Vale
Above: Street market in Market Street.

Ebbw Vale
Above: Armoury Terrace, looking south from Bethcar Street.

Ebbw Vale
Above: County Hotel on the corner of Libanus Road and Western Terrace.

Ebbw Vale   Rhyd-y-Blew Inn
Above: Congregational Chapel in Libanus Road.   Above: The pub sign of the Rhyd-y-Blew Inn in Rassau Road, on the Beaufort side of Ebbw Vale.

Below: Rhyd-y-Blew Inn.
Rhyd-y-Blew Inn

Aneurin Bevan

As well as being famous for the manufacture of iron, steel, and tinplate, Ebbw Vale is also renowned for its association with Aneurin Bevan, the firebrand socialist and orator who is regarded by many as the father of the National Health Service. "Nye" Bevan was born in nearby Tredegar in 1897, but he represented the parliamentary constituency of Ebbw Vale from 1929 until his death in 1960. Although he never achieved the highest political office, Aneurin Bevan is arguably the most influential, and certainly the most inspirational figure in the history of the Labour party.

Find out more about Aneurin Bevan on the BBC History website.


To Nadine, for her photos of Eureka Place and for giving permission to use her memories of life on Station Hill.

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