Sirhowy takes in Tredegar with its famous clock and political history and many miles of stunning countryside
At the head of the Sirhowy valley, Tredegar can justifiably claim to be the cradle of the National Health Service as the Tredegar Medical Aid Society inspired the town's most famous son, Aneurin Bevan who was responsible for the establishment of the NHS in 1947. The Aneurin Bevan Memorial Stones high on the mountainside between Tredegar and Ebbw Vale mark the spot where he held open-air meetings to speak to his constituents and his ashes were scattered.
The area has been the focus of the struggles for workers’ rights over the years and located in a prominent knoll just to the north at Trefil is the so-called Chartists Cave, which was locally reputed to be used as an arms factory and secret meeting place prior to the ill-fated Chartist Insurrection of 1839.
In Tredegar itself, the iron tower and clock in the Circle, which has very recently laid claim to being the world’s smallest multiplex cinema, and Bedwellty House and Park, which are undergoing major restoration, are the sources of much local pride and popular with visitors. The park landscape includes a number of significant listed structures such as the icehouse and the world famous 1851 Great Exhibition block of coal – 15 tonnes hewn in a single block.
To the south of the town, the small isolated village Troedrhiwgwair (also known previously as Himalaya Range), built to serve Bedwellty Pits, stands amongst lovely countryside with a new country park planned at the former Markham Colliery site slightly further down the valley.
High above the eastern slopes of the valley sits the early 20th century garden village of Oakdale with Pen-y-fan Pond close by, a good a base to explore the beautiful and historic countryside around Manmoel on the mountain top.
At the northern end of Blackwood stands the new impressive structure of the Chartists’ Bridge spanning the valley with a sculpture by Sebastien Boyesen at its eastern end made from thousands of steel rings creating a 'mesh' figure which symbolises the Chartist principle of binding together and strength in unity.
Home of the Manic Street Preachers, Blackwood is a thriving retail centre and market town that is also home to the Blackwood Miners Institute, which has a lively and varied programme of music and entertainment, as well as the Blackwood Little Theatre.
Gelligroes Mill, near, picked up the first distress signal from the ill-fated Titanic on Artie Moore’s homemade receiver and now has a radio museum and a candle-making workshop, which has a Royal Warrant to make candles for Prince of Wales.
Close to the villages of Ynysddu and Cwmfelinfach is the spectacular scenery of the Sirhowy Valley Country Park, where the Ynys Hywel Activity Centre with a wide range of adventure activities including abseiling, canoeing, mountain biking, rock climbing, orienteering and hill-walking is located.
- Blackwood Miners Institute
BMI is located in the South East Valleys of Wales and our presence on Blackwood’s busy high street places us at the heart of the community, presenting a variety of arts & entertainment events including well-known household names from the world of music and light entertainment. We also give you the opportunity to experience the best quality theatre, dance and opera companies on your doorstep as well as supporting performances staged by local organisations and much more!