Timeline of Penderyn

Name Penderyn

Its present name Penderynis a corruption of Pen-Deu-Ryn. Penderi and Nantyderi lye on the eastern side of the river or valley; whilst Penderyn and Nantyderyn are to the west, which is proof that the former residents understood the difference between “deryn” and “deri”. On the western side are two promontories, or two outcrops of land, extending outwards from Mynydd y Foel. On one of them, Ysgubor Fawr and the Church have been built; the other is the higher ground called “Bryn y Gof ”. The Church’s location and its surroundings suggest that the Parish’s name derives from both these elements – Pen-Deu-Ryn – the head or end of two promontories, and that the u was omitted because the local residents were unaware of the meaning of the word “Deuryn”. The word “rhyn” can be seen in a host of place names throughout Wales, such as Penrhyn, Penrhyndeudraeth etc, and means that which protrudes prominently.

St Cynog

St Cynog, Brecon Cathedral

St Cynog, Brecon Cathedral

Cynog is invariably described as the eldest son of Brychan Brycheiniog, the great father of a saintly family. According to legendary account, King Tewdrig of Garthmadrin (the old name for Brycheiniog) had a daughter named Marchell, who went to Ireland where she married Anlach son of Coronac.

Cynog is regarded as the principal saint of Brycheiniog, and most of the churches dedicated to him are within the Brychan territory. Merthyr Cynog, a parish that is about nine miles from Brecon, is the reputed place of his burial. Other churches dedicated to him are: Defynog, Ystradgynlais, Battle and Llangunnock on the Garran in Herefordshire, and Llangunnock on the Pill in Monmouthshire. These last two churches are mentioned in Liber Landavensis.

The reason why St Cynog built the church here may have because it was on top of a prehistoric mound or it may have been selected because it is on a hilltop and it had its defensive properties. . Also around that time is sister Tydfil was murdered in Merthyr by Irish Invaders, who came up the Neath Valley and over the Aberdare Mountain into Merthyr.

St Cynog Church Established circa 492AD

St Cynog’s Church Penderyn

St Cynog’s Church Penderyn


A fierce dispute broke out between Humphrey de Bohun, Earl of Hereford and Lord of Brecon, and. Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester and Lord of Glamorgan, which led to fighting between the two powerful Barons on the borders of Glamorgan and Breconshire. Dc Glare had built a strong castle at Morlais near Merthyr on land which de Bohun claimed as his own. Raids were made on either side and this part of the country became lawless and swarmed with brigands (“The Welsh Wars of King Edward the First” by John E. Morris). The King’s Writ did not run in the Marcher Lordships. As the Marchers had fought for; and won their estates, they claimed the right to do as they pleased, within their own territories. In Glamorgan, they were known as “Arglwyddi Pren a Phwll” (Lords of the tree and the pool), as they had all the power to order men culprits be hanged and women culprits to be drowned (Rice Merrick and “Edward the 2nd on Glamorgan” John Griffiths). Both King and Marchers were aware, now that the power of the princes of North Wales had been broken, that the custom of private wars between the Marchers would have to be stopped. Edward was determined to enforce the doctrine that the dignity of the Grown was to be respected, and that the Lord. Marchers should be placed on a footing similar to that of the Crown tenants in England.

They fought a pitch battle at Vaynor and they destroyed the church at Vaynor, the Normans from Morlais Castle and they burnt St Cynog’s church to the ground on St Thomas’ Day 1291. The church was then rebuilt in 1295 and the tower, which is there, now dates back to that time.

Bodwigiad House

Bodwigiad House


David Gam (Man at Arms to Henry V (Agincourt 1415) Bodwigiad House

Richard Games who ascended from one of the notorious traders in Wales, his name Dafydd Gam. He was the son of Einion App-Griffith of Pen Pont in Breconshire; wealthy family, distinguished family and Dafydd Gams grandfather had fought at the battle of Cressy.

Dafydd Gam became an esquire, to the king because King Henry had married into the Buckingham Family, the lords of Breconshire. So Dafydd Gam joined the army as an esquire at 40 marks a year.
He did very well in the army and a legend is that in 1404 he was sent to the Parliament of Owen Glyndwr Parliament at Machynlleth with the purpose of murdering Owen Glyndwr. There is no actual foundation for that, but we do know that Dafydd Gam took an important part in defeating Owen Glyndwr on the banks of the Usk in 1412.

Dafydd Gam went with the English King to fight at the battle of Agincourt and was killed, he was knighted for his bravery and our friend Shakespeare has referred to Dafydd Gam and the host of English Knights who were killed with him on that day. Dafydd Gam was of Norman and Welsh blood, so one can understand that he fought for the English. He was called Dafydd Gam because he had a squint and he joined the army as a very young man because he had murder his cousin, the Lord of Slewch in Brecon and then he runaway and join the army.

Shakespeare had written about him in Henry VI Act 4. “Here was a royal fellowship of death, where is the number of our English dead. Edward the Duke of York, the Earl of Suffolk, Sir Richard Celty, Davey Gam Esq., none else of name and of all other men but five and twenty, oh god, thy arm was here”. In other words, he was suggesting that David Gam was killed with the elite of the English army.
It is thought that David Gam took local archers from Penderyn and Ystradfellte and the bows came from the ewe trees at St Mary’s Church Ystradfellte.


Richard Games, Squire of Bodwigiad, appointed High Sheriff of Brecknockshire


Ironworks begun at Pontbrenllwyd


Several Penderyn men were in “Jury of Life and Death” trying persons on capital charges, such as murder, sheep stealing and burglary.


Present church bells installed


Rees David of Penderyn, labourer ad Maud is wife, charged and the Grand Sessions with assaulting Margaret Thomas spinster, in the parish church Penderyn. The Grand Jury returned a “False Bill”


On the north wall of the chancel is a tomb-stone upon Edward Morgan, gent, and William Morgan is father, were the ancestors of the Rev William Morgan of Brecon, but the dates of their deaths are defaced, and we can only discover that Edward left issue William and Edward Morgan; from another stone upon the same person in the Trebanog seat, on which the letters are in relief, we find he died 29th July 1701. Arms Einion Sais. Near this, an inscription to the following effect, “Underneath the altar remains of the Thomas Morgan, late rector of this parish, who departed this life the 14th day of May 1751, in the 45th year of his age.


Ironworks established by Mayberry on the land Tir Gwyn Bach at Hirwaun


A writ issued at the Grand Sessions dis-training on the inhabitants of Penderyn “all their goods and chattels, for not repairing the highway leading from the churchyard to the Smith’s shop on Tyrvole”.

1763 The first tramroad in the Cynon Valley

A part of the road (from Penderyn to Hirwain) was made about the year 1763, when the first furnace was built at Hirwain. It contained I two wood baulks running parallel, the same as the present rails, over which the lime- atones were drawn in a car, “car llusg.” I knew an old quarryman at Penderyn when I was a boy who remembered that contrivance in full working order. The trams and plates were invented by a North of England man in 1763.


Tram road built from Hirwaun to the limestone quarries at Penderyn

Lewis Lewis (Lewsyn yr Heliwr also known as Lewsyn Shanco Lewis) 1793-?

Lewis Lewis was christened on the 21st March 1793 the son of Jenkin and Margaret Lewis of Blaen-Cadlan in the parish of Penderyn, his father was a butcher. Lewis was a haulier by occupation hence his appellation ‘Yr Heliwr’ and he was engaged in carting coal from the pits at Llwydcoed to the limekilns at Penderyn. In the Merthyr Tydfil riots of 1831 he took a leading part, on the 2nd June in the attack on the house of Joseph Coffin, the clerk to the Court of Requests and in inciting the crowd to seize arms of the soldiers of the 93rd (Highland) Regiment when outside the Castle Inn on the following day. After the riots he hid in the Penderyn district but was caught on the 7th June in the woods of Hedrebolon, Ystradfellte. He was condemned to death at the Cardiff Assizes by Mr Justice Bosanquet, for riotous assembly and the destruction of the house and property of Joseph Coffin. His sentence was commuted to one transportation for life his date of death has not been ascertained.


Work begun on the new road from Hirwaun to Brecon


Siloam (Baptist) Chapel built in Pontbrenllwyd




A coroner’s inquest was held at the Red Lion Inn “kept by Llewellyn Jenkins” on the body of Morgan Williams, which had been exhumed twelve day after burial at Penderyn churchyard. The man had died after a drunken brawl in the parish of Cantref. An important witness was Charles Forrest, surgeon, of the parish of Penderyn. The foreman was Morgan Morgan, Bodwigiad. After his signature to the verdict came that of Phillip Watkins “Ysbugorfawr”, Thomas Jones “Llwyn On” and William Jones “Ynyswendorth”. This coroner’s jury returned a verdict of murder, and two men were later acquitted at the Brecon Grand Sessions.

Petty sessions were held in the Lamb Hotel until the middle of the 19th century.

Merthyr Riots 1831 Lamb Penderyn

After the riots he hid in the Penderyn district but was caught on the 7th June in the woods of Hedrebolon, Ystradfellte. He was condemned to death at the Cardiff Assizes by Mr Justice Bosanquet, for riotous assembly and the destruction of the house and property of Joseph Coffin. His sentence was commuted to one transportation for life his date of death has not been ascertained. It said a generation late a woman who remembered the riots, was sitting on a seat at Merthyr Station when a trained pulled in a man got off and she recognised him and he saw that he knew. So he caught the next train out!

Lewsyn yr Heliwr captured and brought before magistrates in the Lamb Hotel


Church repaired and new rectory built.


William Harry “Gwilym Garw-Dyle”, 1763- 1844 poet

The chair of Gwilym Harri, weaver poet of Pontbrenllwyd, the chair was photographed outside Ysgubor Fawr House

The chair of Gwilym Harri, weaver poet of Pontbrenllwyd, the chair was photographed outside Ysgubor Fawr House

The chair of Gwilym Harri, weaver poet of Pontbrenllwyd, the chair was photographed outside Ysgubor Fawr House

He was born on the 18th Dec. 1763 at Garw-Dyle in Penderyn, a grandson; it is said, of the poet Siôn Llewellyn of Vaynor. He was a weaver, as were his brothers Siôn Harry of Vaynor and Edward Harry of Cefn-Coed-y-Cymer.

After farming unsuccessfully at Llwyn-Onn, Penderyn, he spent the greater part of his life at Pontbrenllwyd; he had nine children. He died 11 July 1844 in the house of one of his sons, at Dowlais, in his eighty-second year. He wrote satirical and religious verse; he was a Unitarian. He published two volumes, Yr Awen Resymol, 1828, and Nodd Awen, 1835.


David Davies 1853-1937 “Dewi Cynon”

David Davies 1853-1937 “Dewi Cynon”

David Davies (Dewi Cynon) was born in a cottage on Bodwigiad Estate in August 1853, he was the son of David Davies, Llanwenog, Ceredigion, and Jennet Davies, daughter of William Harry, Pencae Farm, being one of 11 children, six boys and five girls.

In his youth, singing was his principal delight. Gifted as a vocalist, he persevered in his studies, and began conducting congregational singing at Siloam Church at the age of 17 years, entering the competitive sphere when but 22 afterwards gaining many successes in eisteddfodic literary and singing competitions.

As the conductor of mixed choirs, he was the winner of five premier awards, and his quartet won many successes. Under his expert leadership, cantatas composed by Pencerdd Maelor, were performed in the district viz., “Christiana” in 1891: “Y Tymhorau” in 1892 and “Mordaith Bywyd” in 1893. Throughout the years, he gave loyal service to his church and denomination.

Conducts Festival at 23

In 1876 when only 23 years of age, he conducted the united Baptist singing festival held by the churches of Resolven, Glyn-Neath, and Penderyn. Forty years later, he was chosen to conduct the singing festival of Hirwaun and Penderyn Baptist Churches. Music and singing were all in the life to him, and when he wanted to attend musical events, distance was no object.

His success as an essayist was considerable, particularly when he wrote about the hamlets of Penderyn, Rhigos and Ystradfellte. He was proud of his literary effort on “Thomas Llewelyn, Rhigos,” which he entered at Pontneathvaughan in 1904, when the Vicar of Aberpergwm, who adjudicated divided the prize between him and Gwilym Alaw, Rhigos.


Jerusalem (Methodist) Chapel built

Penderyn Timeline


Soar (Independent) Chapel built

Soar Chapel

Soar Chapel

Soar Chapel, in the village of Penderyn in Breconshire, has become the new headquarters of Tecla Editions. Built in 1860 and considerably enlarged in 1912 it was an Independent Nonconformist Welsh Chapel and it used to have a strong musical tradition. The local people remember the chapel, not very long ago, packed with worshippers and with loud hymns resounding out of it. A few years ago, unfortunately, the congregation grew very small, and the chapel came up for sale. It is now operational as Tecla’s headquarters and warehouse.

Many readers of this Newsletter have known Tecla since its foundation in London in 1976, at the splendid old address of Preachers’ Court, Charterhouse. In those days the number of titles was few but the number of titles has grown greatly in the last few years, and even with the most rigorous stock control, a fair amount of space was needed to have all the titles always available. For a while the stock was housed in some old stables in Lincolnshire, but it was already becoming clear that premises would have to be acquired, and that is what has happened.

Soar Chapel Penderyn December 1875

Mr David Griffiths General Secretary of “Y Cor Mawr”

Mr David Griffiths
General Secretary of “Y Cor Mawr”

Sunday and Monday, the 19th and 20th of this month, the ordination of Mr D. Brythonfryn Griffiths, pastor of the Congregational Church above took place. He preached monthly at the church for over the last three and a half years, and during that period the congregation has increased greatly. Last year a new gallery was built in the church, and paid for before the opening. Sunday morning, Mr Griffiths, at two o’clock, preached by the Rev. D. Griffiths, Elim, Cwmdare, and at 6, by the Rev. J. Joseph, Hirwain. Monday at 11, started by the Rev. J. Morgan, Cwmbach; sermon was bright and clear on the Nature of the Church, by the Rev. D. Jones, B.A., Merthyr. Questions were asked and asked for a sign of agreement and the minister of the church, by the Rev. J. Morgan, a prayer for God’s blessing on the union by its spirit, by the Rev. J. M. Bowen, Pendarren; delivered a on the duties of the minister, the Rev. W. Edwards. At two o’clock, it was started by the Rev. W. S. Davies, Llwydcoed & Rev. J. M. Bowen, a mighty, and also the Rev. R. Evans, Bethel, Aberdare, debt-service of the church. At six begun by Mr D. Watkins, Bethel, and preached by the Revs. W. S. Davies, Llwydcoed and D. Morgan, Ystradfellte.


The grave of Menelaus Williams 1814 - 1882.

The grave of Menelaus Williams 1814 – 1882.

A memorial window was placed in the church to commemorate the late Mr. Menelaus, who is buried in churchyard.

William Menelaus Window

William Menelaus Window

There is a beautiful glass on the south side of the church near the chancel, of two figures St David and St Andrew. This is memorial window to William Menelaus “Scotland”, St David “is adopted country” who was once an engineer at the Dowlais Iron Works, he married a lady from Ysgubor Fawr hence the connection to the parish. The window was place there by his cousins, C.J. and W.L. Darling, one of whom was the famous Justice Darling, who one time figured prominently in important cases.


Stain Glass Adoration of the Magi

Stain Glass Adoration of the Magi

The sanctuary east stained glass window showing the “Adoration of the Magi” 1886. It was designed by Henry Holliday, and made by Powell’s. It as high renaissance figures in Symmetrical composition in strong colours. It was donated by the Bodwigiad Family

Many people think of the stain glass window behind the main alter is the representation of the Magi “wise men of the east” but this is untrue. It is in a betrayal of gentile kings doing homage, not to a babe, but a to the Christ child in the arms of the Madonna. Look closer and you will see two kings and their attendants and not three Magi. The picture appears to be based on evangelical prophecy of Isaiah, wherein he envisages Zion becoming the centre of universal attraction. The quote at the bottom of the window, it’s taken from Psalm 72, verse 11:

“All Kings shall fall down before him all nations shall serve him”.

Sanctuary windows donated by Bodwigiad family

South side is the presentation of Jesus in the temple and Mary, his mother making the requisite offering of a pair of turtle doves.


Mrs. Whitting of Treferig, Llantrisant, had given £50 towards the fund for restoring Penderyn Church, and will place a stained glass window in the chancel in memory of her brother, Mr. M. J. M. Harris.


Dean Vaughan, of Llandaff, has given a donation of £10 towards Penderyn Church Restoration Fund. About £400 has been raised out of the £700 required.


About the year 1800 a young lad named Jenkin Thomas came as a parish apprentice (prentis plwyf) to the farm of Wernlas, Penderyn, in Breconshire, then kept, by Mr Jenkin Howell, grandfather of Jenkin Howell, printer, Aberdare. Sometime afterwards he joined the old Baptist Chapel of Ynysyfelyn, at Taff-fawr, and showing considerable promise, he was induced to commence to preach.

He entered the Theological Seminary at Abergavenny, then kept by the celebrated Rev. Micah Thomas. The young man Jenkin Thomas was addicted to the use of tobacco, to which his tutor greatly objected. One day, smelling tobacco in the room, he called to Jenkin, “Mr Jenkin Thomas, you have been smoking.” “No, indeed, sir,” said the young Welshman, “I am shew.” “I don’t care,” thundered out the old teacher, “whether you are Jew or Gentile, I won’t; have you using tobacco while with me.” The feeling that he had mispronounced the word “chew,” so impressed the young man that he at once set himself the Herculean task, which he accomplished, of learning every word in Dr. Johnson’s dictionary with its pronunciation and meaning. He became a most accomplished English speaker and essayist, and was for many years, minister of a Baptist church at Cheltenham.


In our biography of the late Mr. William Powell, Maesydderwen, Hirwain, we stated that deceased and his father before him were the owners of the Penderyn Quarries, The owners, however are Mrs. Jenkin Rhys, Ysgubor Fawr, Penderyn, and Mr. Whitting, Weston-Super-Mare and Bodwigiad, Penderyn, from whom Mr. William Powell leased the premises.


Curious find near Cefn tombstone used as hearthstone.

Rumours having reached me (writes our Cefn correspondent) more than once that some masons, while carrying out rather extensive renovations in the old buildings of Ffrwd Uchaf Farm, had alighted upon a curious and an interesting find, I determined to pay a visit to the place and judge for myself. I may say, in the way of introduction, that Ffrwd Uchaf is on the Penderyn side of the Taff River, and within a short walk of Cefn. The farm had been in the occupation of the late Phillip Jones for years, and was afterwards held in succession by his widow and son but about nine months ago it passed into the occupation of a respectable farmer named John. Since his advent into the place, the old buildings have been completely renovated, and while repairing a small room, which, apparently, does service as the parlour of the family, the interesting discovery was made. In front of the fire in the said room there was what was always looked upon as a large stone, and the masons had occasion to remove this in order to prosecute their work. The stone, however, turned out to be a large iron casting, and when lifted out of its position, on the nether side was found, in a perfect state of preservation, the following inscription.

Here. Liveth the body of David, the son of William of Ffrwd, in the Parish of Penderyn, who was interred the 19th day of June, 1782, in the 6 year of his age.

The slab measures about four feet by two feet and a half, and is about an inch thick, with the upper corners rounded off, in the shape of an ordinary headstone. The letters, too, which are deep sunk in the slab, seem to have been cast.

Now, several questions suggest themselves in connection with this old curiosity. The date appears to have been anterior to the period when casting iron was carried on an extensive scale in the neighbourhood of Merthyr. It was in 1760 that the first Guest came to Dowlais, and the first Richard Crawshay did not come to Merthyr until a good while after that year. Before the arrival of those pioneers in the iron trade, iron casting must have been in its infancy in this locality, and it speaks volumes as to the splendid workmanship of that period that such a good slab of casting, with the letters all cast should have been turned out.

The problem of identifying the William Evans mentioned in the inscription does not seem hard. He was evidently the tenant of the Ffrwd Farm at the time, and the progenitor of worthy scions who have played their part, and that well, in the history of the locality since that remote date. William Evans had a son, called Jenkin, and according to the nomenclature of the old Cymru’ he was known as “Siencyn William Evan.” Jenkin also had a son named John, and to his comrades he was known as “Shon Siencyn William Evan.” There is living in Merthyr at the present time a gentleman of high social standing, who could be inserted in this genealogical tree under the name of John Shon Siencyn William Evan.” If I am right in my surmises, the descendants of the said William Evans still reside in Cefn and the neighbourhood and are held in high repute.

But how did the slab get to the small room where it was found? No one believes for a moment that the remains of the young lad were interred under the hearthstone, and the casting must, therefore, have been brought from some neighbouring burial ground. Excluding the yards adjoining the Merthyr and Penderyn Churches, and also, perhaps of Ynysgau, the only place of sepulchre in the immediate neighbourhood was the Hen Dy Cwrdd, Cefn, where the first burial took place in 1752, just 30 years previous to the date mentioned on the slab. Iron tombs and iron setting off, of apparently great antiquity, are still to be seen in the latter burial-place, and must have been considered fashionable at one time. Is it possible that this old slab had been set ever a grave in one of the burying grounds for a time, and having been replaced by a headstone or something else, was removed to the farmstead, and used as a hearth-stone in the “reception room” of the family ? Possibly some of the readers of the “Times” may be able to throw additional light on this old and interesting curiosity.

1898 Miss Rhys

The funeral of Miss Rhys, the only sister of Mr R. H. Rhys, the well-known blind magistrate of Plasnewydd, Llwydcoed, Aberdare, took place on Tuesday at Penderyn Churchyard, Breconshire. The body was brought from the house to the St. James’s Church, Llwydcoed, where a short service was held, the Rev. Canon Johnson of St. Michaels College, officiating. The church was well filled with the leading residents, including Sir William and Lady Lewis and Miss Lewis, The Mardy; James Lewis, J.P., Plasdraw and Miss Lewis; Mr and Mrs W. T. Rees, Maesyffynon; Mrs W. Thomas, Brynawel, etc.

The mourners included Mr R. H. Rhys, J.P. Brother; Mr R. J. Rhys, coroner for North Glamorganshire, nephew Mr P. T. Rhys, solicitor, Aberdare, nephew Mr W. Ll. Rhys, Aberdare, nephew; Mr W. Williams, Aberdare, nephew; Mr Evan Evans, The cortege then drove to Penderyn, where it was met by the members of the Aberdare District Council and the officials, and a of the leading residents of Merthyr. The Rev Evan Bevan, St. Fagan’s, Aberdare, officiated at the grave.

Vault of the Rhys family

Vault of the Rhys family

Penderyn Eisteddfod 11.06.1898

On Monday the second annual Eisteddfod was at Penderyn in a spacious marquee at the rear of the Lamb Inn, which, in spite of the heavy downpour of rain in the morning, was well attended. The appointed chairmen were Messrs W. Thomas, J.P., Brynawel, Aberdare, and J. W. Morgan, J.P., Brynheulog, London. The former gentleman was, however obliged to be in London, and Mr Morgan presided throughout the day.

The conductor the Rev. B. Evans, “Bishop of Gadlys.” Adjudicators:—Musical, Messrs M.O. Jones, Treherbert, and R. Hopkin, A.C., Aberdare; Poetry, prose, &c., the Rev. B. Evans; prize bags, &c., Mrs A. S. Pleace, Trebanog Farm, Penderyn. Secretaries, Messrs John Harris, Neuadd, and J. Bevan, Gawdrylan. After the opening speech of the Chairman, Miss Evans, Gadlys, played an overture on the pianoforte.


Mr Rees Hopkin Rhys J.P.

Mr Rees Hopkin Rhys J.P.

Mr Rees Hopkin Rhys J.P. the “Grand Old Man of Aberdare”, whose mortal remains were places at rest this week in the family vault at the Penderyn Churchyard, came from an old Aberdare family, his father Mr Jenkin Rhys, of Llwydcoed in the early years of the present century, and like his more distinguished son, took keen interest in the parochial affairs. In addition to Mr Rhys two other sons became well known in the district, one being Mr Jenkin Rhys, of Ysbugorfawr, father of the coroner for North Glamorgan “Mr R.J. Rhys”, andof Mr P.T. Rhys, solicitor, Aberdare, Mr Jenkin Rhys was for some time chairman of the Penderyn School Board, and took a keen interest in local affairs in the Rhigos and Penderyn parishes. Another brother was Dr Llewelyn Rhys, who practiced in Aberdare, Dr W. Llewelyn Rhys being his son. So was Mr Rhys, the well-known solicitor of Pontypridd, a member of the firm Messrs Walter H. Morgan and Rhys. One of the sisters was married to Mr Menelaus of Dowlais, while other sisters remained single and ministered upon Mr Rhys in a loving manner until their deaths; both of them as well as his brothers have predeceased him.


St Cynog Church refurbished except tower.

The first tramroad in the Cynon Valley 14.12.1901
(C.N.Q., November 30.)

Although I am unable to answer the question of Mr. Evan Hopkin in your last issue, a few facts in reference to the matter may be of interest to some of your readers. A part of the road (from Penderyn to Hirwain) was made about the year 1763, when the first furnace was built at Hirwain. It contained I two wood baulks running parallel, the same as the present rails, over which the lime- atones were drawn in a car, “car llusg.” I knew an old quarryman at Penderyn when I was a boy who remembered that contrivance in full working order. The trams and plates were invented by a North of England man in 1763. The road, which was then a regular tramroad, was extended from Hirwain to Aberdare about the beginning of last century. It was made from Penderyn down to Aberdare; and not from Aberdare up, in order to have the stone blocks straight from the quarries. Thus, it appears to me that there must have been more than one engineer managing the work. Whoever they were, they did it wonderfully well, as there are only two or three places all the way that require a sprag. Jenkin Howell

Lamb Inn Penderyn

Lamb Inn Penderyn


Jenkin Howell

Jenkin Howell

Jenkin Howell was born at Torfoel in the Parish of Penderyn. His father John Howell died in 1841, leaving Jenkin the youngest but one of six children, He had little formal schooling but he read widely at home with his mother Gwen. He was apprenticed to a shoe-maker at Pontneathvaughn; at age of 14 he moved to Merthyr, to follow his craft. Two years later, he moved to Aberdare, where he became a shoe-maker in the establishment of Edward Lloyd in Bell Street, Trecynon.

Owing to a serious recession in trade, he decided to move to Cardiff, He was dissuaded from doing so by his minister, the well-known Dr Thomas Price of Calfaria Chapel. Throughout his life in Aberdare Jenkin Howell was a faithful member of the church of Calfaria; so now we find him learning a new craft again, this time in the printing works if Daniel Jones Thomas. He quickly mastered the new techniques, and he became responsible for the publication of the Baptist periodical “Y Gwyliedydd”.

In 1867 he decided to branch out on his own, and from that time until his death in July 1902 he was a leading figure in the literary life of Aberdare, and the owner of one of the most prominent publishing houses in Glamorgan. From his prolific press many books that have attained a national significance have been issued, especially that text-book of poetical metres that has benefited so many young students of the Welsh metric system, “Yr Ysgol Farddol.” by Dafydd Morganwg. “Hanes Morganwg,” and “Yr Ysgol Gymreig,” by the same author, were also printed by him, as also was the New Testament, by Dr. Edwards, Cardiff, and the biography of Dr. Price (Calfaria Chapel) by the late Rev. B. Evans “Telynfab” (Gadlys Chapel). The following magazines were also the off-springs of his famous press: “Seren Gomer,” “Yr Hanwr,” and “Yr Yruofynydd,” the two former being Baptist periodicals, and the latter a Unitarian monthly. In 1885 he initiated:” Y Gweithiwr Cymreig,” a Welsh newspaper of no mean repute. He edited and published this Journal for a period of five years, when “Y Gweithiwr” shared the fate of other defunct Welsh journals not only in Aberdare but throughout the Principality, and was gathered to its fathers. The paper was an ideal one from a literary point of view but it is not intrinsic literary merit that courts patronage and success now-a-days. He his buried in the graveyard at St Cynog’s.

Grand Eisteddfod at Penderyn 14.06.1902

Last Monday the Eisteddfod was held in a spacious pavilion in the vicinity of the Lamb Inn. The adjudicators were as follows: Music, Messrs. D. W. Lewis, F.T.S. C., Brynaman, and L. Davies, Cymmer; poetry, Gurnos; prose, Messrs. L. Davies and B. A. Williams, Penderyn; prize bags, Miss Rhys, Ysguborfawr. The conductor was the ever genial Gurnos whose fame as an Eisteddfod conductor is spread far and wide. The accompanists, who performed their duties admirably, were Miss Jenny Lewis, Treharris, and Mr. T. Richards, Hirwain. The arduous duties of the secretary-ship were ably performed by Messrs. W. J. Bevan and Morgan Lewis.

At the afternoon meeting the first item on the programme was a harp solo by Miss Lewis, Treharris. The chairman, Mr. P. T. Rhys, Aberdare, gave an excellent speech in his inimitable style, brimming with eisteddfodic enthusiasm, and sparkling with humour. He said that he would not be able to give an English speech without frequently consulting his dictionary. To attend the Eisteddfod, he said, was a far better pastime than to spend the day in mutilating tame rabbits and semi-tame pigeons. (Applause.) The pleasures of the Eisteddfod were innocent ones, they neither hurted nor offended any creature, with the exception of the unsuccessful competitors. (Laughter.) He was gratified that the King, who under the title of the Prince of Wales had so endeared himself to the Welsh people, would be crowned beneath the banner of peace. He also hoped that the peace would be a permanent one, and that the general response to the eisteddfodic query Is there peace? For many years to come would be “Peace.”

Prizes were awarded as follows:

Contralto solo: “He was despised,” Miss Margaret G. Williams, Station Road, Hirwain.
Soprano solo: “The Holy City,” Miss Bessie Clee, Treharris,

Essay: “The history of Penderyn parish during the last 30 years,” Mr. D. Davies (Dewi Cynon), Penderyn.

Recitation: “Huno yn y Lofa,” Mr. John Thomas, Merthyr Vale.

Prize Bags: Miss M. Jones, Penderyn.

The Juvenile Choral competition was a very interesting one. It drew forth some of the best juvenile musical talent of Glamorgan. The contest was very keen, the first prize being awarded to Aberaman Choir, conducted by Mr. J. Jenkins. The Penderyn Children’s Choir came in for a good second, and Mrs. Rhys, Ysguborfawr, generously contributed a second prize to this choir which was conducted by Mr. Thomas.
Solo Tenor: “Hyd fedd hi gar yn gywir,” Mr. Roger Williams, Penderyn.

Coming-of-Age Festivities at Penderyn 31st January 1903

The Parish of Penderyn wore an aspect such as to indicate that an event of more than usual moment was taking place. It was the 21st birthday of Mr. Morgan H. Whitting, son of Capt. E. Whitting, of Bodwigiad, Penderyn, and Totterdown, presumptive heir to the estates of Bodwigiad and Treferig. At the instance of Capt. Whiting, all the tenants of the Bodwigiad estate met at the Lamb Hotel, Penderyn, to celebrate the auspicious event by partaking of the good things catered for the company by Host and Hostess Jones. Mr. Morgan Whitting was the recipient of an address and silver bowl, the gift of the tenants. He may well regard himself as a happy man, knowing that the attainment of his majority witnessed such a manifestation of esteem towards himself from the tenantry of the estate and neighbourhood generally.

Competitive Meeting 05.12.1903

An interesting Competitive Meeting was held at the Assembly Hall, Penderyn, on Friday evening. Through the generosity of Mr John H. Davies, Porth, the contractor of the new railroad from Hirwain to Penderyn, the meeting was brought about. Mr Davies gave all the prizes, and intends holding similar concerts fortnightly, the proceeds of which are to be given to the poor of the neighbourhood. We hope they will be patronised.

The chair was ably filled by Mr Davies, who in a few opening remarks, touched very appropriately upon the needs of Penderyn, and suggested a scheme for the improvement of the village. The following programme was gone through:

Opening song by Miss James, Penderyn open solo for males, the prize being taken by Mr Jenkin George, Llwydcoed; Mr Abraham Watkins, G.T.S.C., then followed with Penillion Singing, being accompanied on the harp by Mr A. Richards, Bridgend Inn, Hirwain, who won ringing cheers from the large audience open solo for females. Miss Davies, Post Office; tenor solo, Mr D. Harris, Rhigos; bass solo, Mr Phillip Jenkins best recitation, Mr James Rees duet, Messrs D. Harris and P. Jenkins, Mr A. Richards also rendered a selection of Welsh airs on the harp, and was heartily enjoyed. Mr A. Watkins adjudicated the musical portion. Among the supporters of the meeting were Messrs G. E. Snape, David John, Hirwain; D. Davies (Dewi Cynon), and John Jones, Lamb Hotel. The accompanists were Miss James, Penderyn, and Mr Morgan Roderick, Rhigos.

Christmas treat 9th January 1904

On Christmas Day the scholars of the Sunday School of Siloa Baptist Chapel were entertained to tea, through the generosity of Mrs Gwen Jones, Godreeithyn, Penderyn; whose charitable deeds are well known in the district. In the evening a miscellaneous concert was held under the presidency of the pastor, the .Rev J. H Roberts, when a lengthy programme of music and recitations were gone through by the members. Mr D. Davies (Dewi Cynon) ably adjudicated on the various competitions


Tram Road changed to railway

Penderyn Timeline

On the opposite side of the road from the present day Llwynon Quarry in Penderyn is another large quarry company consisting of abandoned workings. These were originally separate quarries owned by the various ironworks in Aberdare, the Crawshay Quarry, Gadlys Quarry, Abernant Quarry and Aberaman Quarry.

With the demise of the ironworks these ceased working except for the Aberaman Quarry which together with Llwynon Quarry, was acquired by Messrs W.P. Powell, Hirwaun, for the production of road-stone, agricultural limes and flux for the Ebbw Vale Street Works. Both quarries were linked to the G.W.R. at Hirwaun by the Hirwaun Railway. The photograph taken in the early 20th century is of the Aberaman Quarry and shows clearly the characteristic bedding and joining of the limestone. The railway lines run to the quarry face allowing the stone to be loaded directly into the trucks


Bodwigiad House

Bodwigiad House

Feast at Penderyn

The charmingly picturesque village of Penderyn was en fete on Tuesday, August 26th, when Mr. and Mrs. Whitting of Bodwigiad, entertained all the villagers, school children, their tenants of the Bodwigiad Estate, Breconshire, Treferig and Abernant, Glamorganshire, numbering about 350, to an excellent luncheon at the Lamb Hotel, Penderyn. The tables, decorated with beautiful flowers, presented an inviting appearance, the catering doing great credit to host and hostess Jones. Among those present were Major Powell, Tynewydd, Rev. LI. Jenkins, Rectory, Penderyn, Rev. Stephens, vicar of Treferig, Rev. T. S. Longdon, vicar of Hirwain, Mr. P. T. Rhys, Aberdare, Mr. W. Edwards, Bedwhir, Mr. W. Evans, agent, Tonyrefail, Mrs. Rhys, Ysguborfawr, Mrs. Rees, Maesyffynon, Misses Edwards, Bedwhir, and most of the local gentry.

The cloth having been removed, Mr. Whitting proposed the Royal toast, touching most feelingly upon the King’s recent illness and the brave manner in which our beloved Queen had nursed His Majesty. The rector of Penderyn proposed the Army and Navy. Major Powell responded, and in so doing, gave the company a very graphic account of his South African experiences. Mr. P. T. Rhys, in an able manner, proposed the toast of the evening, the health of Mr. and Mrs. Whitting, which was received with the greatest enthusiasm. Mr. Whitting replied in a very able speech, dealing with agriculture and current topics in general. Mrs. Whitting, who, upon rising, was received with a tremendous outburst of cheering, said she was very pleased to see so many present. She knew a good many of the company already, before long she hoped to know them all. At this point, the company present with tremendous gusto, sang, “For he is a jolly good fellow,” and cheers for Mrs. Whitting were given. Mr. D. Evans proposed the health of Mr. Morgan Harris Whitting, the Heir Apparent to the Estates, including in the toast, the names of Miss Whitting and the Misses Ernst, each responding amid great cheering. The post prandial proceedings at an end, a move was made for Bodwigiad House, where games of all kinds had most thoughtfully been arranged for the children, each child receiving a beautiful Coronation Mug with Bodwigiad inscribed upon it. Games over, the whole company assembled on the lawn, where the Aberaman Silver Band dis- coursed an excellent programme of appropriate music. The singing of the National Anthem brought to its close one of the most enjoyable afternoons ever spent by the inhabitants of Penderyn, thanks to the kindness of the Squire of Bodwigiad and his good Lady.


At the London National Eisteddfod, Mr. D. Davies (Dewi Cynon), Post Office, Penderyn, won the prize of £10 for the best Collection of the Folklore of Radnorshire. The adjudicators, Mr. Egerton Phillimore and Colonel Bradney, stated: We have no hesitation in awarding him the prize, and in doing so we express our regret that its pecuniary value is so incommensurate with the great diligence he has shown, and the extensiveness and merit of his collection.”


David Davies (Dewi Cynon) 1854-1937


The funeral of Penderyn’s “Grand Old Man.” Mr David Davies (Dewi Cynon) of the Post Office, Penderyn, took place on Saturday to Siloam Baptist Church Cemetery, when there was a large attendance, including bards, musicians and eisteddfodwyr, who paid and impressive last tribute to an author and musician.

Mr. Davies was precentor at Siloam for over 50 years. Services were conducted by the Rev. E. J. Hughes, B.A., Siloa, assisted by the Revs Gwilym Owen, Gorseinon, D. Creigfryn, Aberdare, W. Aerwyn Jones, Cwmdare, Elvet Thomas, Penderyn, and D. Eden Davies, B.A., rector.

Siloam Church Penderyn

Siloam Church Penderyn