The Heritage Quarter was once the town’s bustling focal point.
“Pontmorlais has a rich built heritage which bears testimony to the town’s past industrial wealth. Created between the mid-18th and early 20th centuries, the area contains much of the historic, commercial, religious and administrative centre of the district” said historian and author Huw Williams.
A book ‘The Gilded Years’, describes how Pontmorlais was a major venue for day time and evening entertainment, with three cinemas and a first class, South Wales-renowned dance hall. It also offered ‘virtually all of life’s necessities… meat, fish, a shave and a haircut, clothing of all sorts for all sorts of budgets, newspapers, hardware provisions of all kinds, several photographers and portrait painters, jewellers and sweets’.
In its heyday, Pontmorlais was the centre of commerce and retail and vital to Merthyr Tydfil’s prosperity.
A physical link between REDHOUSE Cymru and Canolfan Soar, Rebecca Gouldson has designed 60 bronze cast roundels in eight groups.
The natural landscape is a theme that links Merthyr’s past and future; its rich mining heritage with the current and future tourism attracted to the area’s natural beauty.
A memorial erected in 1933 to Richard Trevithick, inventor and builder of the first steam railway locomotive to pull a load on rails. It ran from Penydarren to Navigation (Abercynon) along the Merthyr Tramroad on 21 February 1804.
Just around the corner from the monument is the actual route, still named the ‘Tramroad’ today, and a bridge spanning the nearby Morlais Brook – claimed to be the first railway bridge in the world!
Morlais Brook – The Stinky!
Extracts taken from the ‘Metlting Pot’ best describes the history of Morlais Brook –
Nant Morlais forms from numerous small tributaries on the slopes of Twynau Gwynion and Cefnyr Ystrad via Pwll Morlais, on the 560 metre contour above Pantysgallog and Dowlais. In a distance of seven and a half kilometres, it descends 440 metres to its confluence with the Taf at Merthyr Tydfil.
Today, Nant Morlais reveals itself only briefly to the rear of the Theatre Royal and Trevithick memorial before disappearing at Pontmorlais, the location of another of those early turnpike bridges.
Hidden behind the buildings of the town’s Upper High Street there is one final reminder of the stream’s rural and unsullied past. Mill Lane, more recently the rather secret location of Mr. Fred Bray’s sweet factory, is the site of a water mill where our agricultural forefathers ground the corn grown in the fields of the local farms.
Whilst the old buildings and general dereliction which not so long ago framed the stream’s last few hundred metres have long disappeared and been replaced by car parking and civic buildings, a large portion of Abermorlais Tip remains to mark the point where the waters of Nant Morlais coalesce with those of the parent Taf. Although partly confined to a subterranean existence, through the more recent efforts of Man, ‘The Stinky’ has been able to rid itself of the foul and fetid mantle of its past.
The Melting Pot – a website dedicated to the Heritage and Culture of Merthyr Tydfil can be found at https://www.merthyr-history.com/?p=4632
Town Centre Trails
If you're interested to find out more why not try a Town Centre Guided Walk. You can find a series of walks and interactive maps at https://welovemerthyr.net/visiting-merthyr-tydfil-town-centre/town-centre-trails/