The name "Aberfan" comes from the 'Fan' stream that runs through the area, into the river Taff.

A small Celtic hill-top settlement is believed to have existed near Aberfan during the fifth Century. During the preceding years Aberfan was made up entirely of farmland. The area was farmed right through the Middle Ages, and well into the 19th century.

Hafod Tanglwys Farm

This ancient land holding, located between Troedyrhiw and Aberfan is believed to have been the summer residence of Tanglwys, the daughter of the 5th Century Welsh Lord Brychan and sister of Tydfil and Rhun. It consisted of two farmsteads Hafod Tanglwys Isaf (Lower) and Hafod Tanglwys Uchaf (Upper). According to legend Tydfil was travelling to Hafod Tanglwys Farm when she was pursued and murdered by a band of marauding Picts.

During the middle ages, other farms were established in the area, namely Ynys-y-gored and Pantglas Farm.

Developing into a Mining Village

The nearby Merthyr Vale Colliery was in production by 1875 and after that Aberfan quickly developed and became almost exclusively inhabited by colliers and their families. Many of the houses and buildings in the town date to the 1880's including Smyrna, Capel Aberfan, Bethania and Zion, as well as several shops, pubs and Pantglas School.

The Aberfan Disaster

On Friday 21st October 1966, 144 people were killed when the coal tips from the Merthyr Vale Colliery slipped down the mountain and buried Pantglas School, twenty houses and a farm in the village of Aberfan.

Of the 144 people killed 116 were children, most of them between the ages of seven and ten. Despite the desperate rescue mission that followed, just a handful of children were recovered alive from the rubble. About half of the children from Pantglas School were killed, along with five of their teachers; it was the last day of school before the half term break.

The collapse of the tips was caused by a build up of water in a stream running underneath the tip itself. At the Tribunal Inquiry for the Aberfan Disaster, responsibility for the disaster was attributed to the National Coal Board, claiming that the disaster was a result "not of wickedness, but of ignorance, ineptitude and a failure of communications."

The Aberfan memorial garden now stands on the site of Pantglas School. It was built to commemorate the 144 people who died in the Aberfan disaster of 1966.

Heritage lottery Fund Logo

Tel: 01685 727474
Last updated: 30.03.2012
Was this information useful?
Thinking about what you have just read, how useful did you find the information?
Take a moment to tell us how we could improve this page, but please don't leave any personal details like your name or address. This information is for comments only and you will not receive a response.