Rhondda known throughout the world for its history and culture. Take a trip up the longest high street in the world.
The two Rhondda Valleys, Rhondda Fawr and Rhondda Fach, often called just The Rhondda, are probably the best known of the south Wales Valleys. In 1807, a poet observed 'such scenes of untouched nature as the imagination would find it difficult to surpass'.
However, this changed by the mid 19th century as a result of intensive mining for the area’s 'black gold', which transformed the landscape into a scarred, industrial one. Nowadays, the mines and most of the scars have disappeared and first-time visitors are often taken aback by the sheer beauty of the area with the villages and towns closely enveloped by steep-sided forest and heather clad hills.
The last deep mine in the Rhondda was Maerdy, at the head of the smaller Rhondda Fach valley. In the mid-twentieth century, Maerdy was seen as a radical hotbed, earning it the sobriquet, Little Moscow, during The Depression. From Maerdy, travel over the mountain to the Cynon Valley and enjoy some fantastic views.
At 1,100 feet above sea level, Penrhys overlooks the two Rhondda valleys. Until the late 16th century, it was one of the holiest sites for Christian pilgrims in Wales and the statue of Our Lady of Penrhys, near the medieval holy well, dominates the skyline. Close by, the Rhondda Golf Club, with its holes named after local collieries, enjoys wonderful panoramic views over the surrounding countryside.
Treorchy is sometimes described as having 'the longest High Street in the world' as village merges with village. Dominating the town is the Parc and Dare Theatre, which hosts the brass band that bears its name as well as the famous Treorchy Male Choir. The A4061 road out of Treorchy leads over the Bwlch y Clawdd Pass with spectacular views.
Pentre is home to St Peter’s Church often called the 'Cathedral of the Rhondda'. In May 1924 at Ton Pentre, huge crowds turned out to see the Duke of York, later King George VI, played a round of golf against Frank Hodges M.P. on what had been until recently a bare patch of mountainside. Today the ‘course’ built by local miners has reverted to countryside.
Tonypandy is famous for the fierce riots that took place in 1910 in and around the mines of the Cambrian Combine which led to the establishment of a miners’ minimum wage in 1912. The Grade-II listed old Glamorgan Colliery Powerhouse at Llwynypia was a hub of the riots and ambitious plans are in place to restore the landmark building.
Porth, meaning ‘gate’ in English, is regarded as the gateway to the Rhondda. This area was where the initial industrialisation of the Rhondda valleys occurred with the first deep coal mine sunk at Dinas. The Rhondda Heritage Park based at the former Lewis Merthyr Colliery, Trehafod just to the south of Porth is one of the top heritage and cultural visitor attractions in south Wales.
Running along the southern bank of the river Rhondda close by, Barry Sidings is an attractive country park with a visitor centre which is the start of a short walk that takes you up into the forestry overlooking the area, or enjoy a bike ride.
- Worker's Gallery
This gallery is run by artists and has become a key facility at the heart of the community - one of the most visited places in the Rhondda Valleys!
- Rhondda Heritage Park
Based at the former Lewis Merthyr Colliery, Rhondda Heritage Park is a living testament to the mining communities of the World famous Rhondda Valleys. The park offers a fascinating insight into the rich culture and character of the Rhondda Valleys.