Welsh Family History Archive
Images of Wales
Cwmafan (Cwmavon), Afan Valley, Glamorgan
Photography by John Ball - 11 January 1999
(with Agfa ePhoto-307 digital camera)
The former mining town of Cwmafan lies in the valley of the Afon Afan (River Avon) about one mile inland from the steel town of Port Talbot. Little evidence remains of the industrial history of Cwmafan. These photographs were taken from the slopes of Mynydd Bychan which form the eastern side of the valley. On this occasion, the inquisitiveness of the sheep seems to have overcome their usual timidity.
Above: Looking westwards from Mynydd Bychan. Cwmafan has expanded up the
western slopes of the valley (behind the sheep). To the left is the 800 foot high
Mynydd Dinas. Beyond the gap in the centre of the picture is the town of Baglan.
Above: Looking down the hillside towards Cwmafan on the valley floor. The hill (top right)
is the 1100 foot Foel Fynyddau. Running from the bottom right of the picture towards its
centre is the trackbed of an old "tramroad", once used to transport coal down the hillside
to the valley railway line.
Above: Looking northwards, we can see the rather unsightly pine forestation on the slopes
of Foel Fynyddau, and the linear development of communities along the river bank.
Above: In the distance (right), the village of Pontrhydyfen (shown in another Images
of Wales feature) is just visible.
In December 2003 I was contacted by Gareth Ll. Jones of Dublin, Ireland, whose forebears came from Cwmafan. He drew my attention to a painting of Cwmafan (in Alkyo oils) by the artist R. W. Harrison. The painting measures 18 cm x 24 cm. The artist copied the scene from an older picture in 1983. Gareth inherited the painting from his uncle, Roy Davies of Cwmafan.
Above: Y Foel in Cwmafan, in the mid to late 1800s.
Gareth says: "The view is from the centre of Cwmafan looking towards the north-west. These days Heol Tewgoed, runs through the site of the old rows as the high route across to the British Lion pub."
He identifies the rows as:
Top left: Tewgoed Row - Top right: Tyr Arthur Row
Bottom left: Copper Row - Bottom right: Cornish Row**
Foreground: The old copper works, with the flue running up the side of Y Foel and a chimney stack on top
Gareth does not know what year the scene is based upon. He is certain it is later than 1841 and possibly later than 1861. If anyone knows more about the scene, please contact Gareth at firstname.lastname@example.org
**Brian Jones, formerly of Tyr Arthur Row, reports that the row at bottom right is not Cornish Row but Engine Row. Cornish Row is out of the picture. According to Brian, Cornish Row was slightly lower and to the right of Engine Row.
Many thanks to Gareth Jones for allowing me to include his painting on my webpage, and to Brian Jones for the correction he provided in May 2021.