The goings on in and around Bridgend

Archive for tag: Bridgend

Romantic Bridgend - The Maid of Cefn Ydfa

The old mansion of Cefn Ydfa, in the parish of Llangynwyd, now lies in ruins. It was once home to Ann Thomas (1704-27), better known these days as 'The Maid of Cefn Ydfa'. Her sad story was immortalized by her true love, Will Hopkyn a local labourer and poet in the poem and song 'Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn', 'Shepherding the White Wheat'.

Anne and Will Hopkyn were in love, but the difference in their social status made marriage impossible. Anne was the heiress to her father's lands, the mansion and grounds of Cefn Ydfa. Her father, William Thomas, arranged a good marriage for her with Anthony Maddocks, the son of a well to do lawyer of Cwmrisga. She was forbidden from ever seeing Will Hopkyn again, and against her will, was married to Anthony Maddocks on the 4th of May 1725.

Will Hopkyn left the parish, driven away by his anguish, unable to see Anne married to another man, and sometime soon after penned the poem 'Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn in which he relates their sad tale. But the story doesn't end there. Within two years of her marriage, Anne's grief at being parted turned into a sickness. Within two years she was evidently dying, most say of a broken heart. Her last wish was to see Will again, and he was sent for. He arrived just in time to take her in his arms for one last embrace. According to the tale, she died in his arms, and was buried in June 1727 under the chancel of St Cynnwyd's Church in Llangynnwyd. Will Hopkyn was buried close by in the churchyard upon his death in 1741.Will Hopkins' Grave

Additional stories and anecdotes were added to the romance of Ann and Wil Hopkyn by Isaac Craigfryn Hughes in his novel The Maid of Cefn Ydfa (1881).

All that is left now of their romance is this story and of course Will's beautiful song. Here it is.

 

BUGEILIO'R GWENITH GWYN

Mi sydd fachgen ieuanc ffôl

Yn byw yn ôl fy ffansi

Myfi'n bugeilio'r gwenith gwyn,

Ac arall yn ei fedi.

Pam na ddeui ar fy ôl,

Rhyw ddydd ar ôl ei gilydd?

Gwaith 'rwyn dy weld, y feinir fach,

Yn lanach, lanach beunydd!

 

Glanach, lanach wyt bob dydd,

Neu fi â'm ffydd yn ffolach,

Er mwyn y Gŵr a wnaeth dy wedd,

Gwna im drugaredd bellach.

Cwnn dy ben, gwêl acw draw,

Rho i mi'th law wen dirion;

Gwaith yn dy fynwes bert ei thro

Mae allwedd clo fy nghalon!

 

Tra fo dŵr y môr yn hallt,

A thra fo 'ngwallt yn tyfu

A thra fo calon yn fy mron

Mi fydda'n ffyddlon iti:

Dywed imi'r gwir dan gel

A rho dan sel d'atebion,

P'un ai myfi neu arall, Ann,

Sydd orau gan dy galon.

  

ENGLISH TRANSLATION:

I am a young and foolish lad

Who lives as I please

I lovingly tend the ripening wheat

And another reaps it.

Why not follow me

Some day after another?

Because I see you little lass,

Purer and purer each day!

 

Purer and purer are you every day,

Or I with my faith more foolish,

For the One that created your countenance,

Be compassionate towards me now.

Lift your head, look over there,

Give me your dear white hand;

Because in your lovely breast

Is the key to the lock of my heart!

 

Whilst the water of the sea is salty,

And whilst my hair is growing

And whilst there is a heart in my bosom

I will be faithful to you:

Tell me the truth in secret

And give under seal your answers,

Whether it is I or another, Ann,

Which is preferred by your heart.

 

 

  

Digital Bridgend – The Nantymoel Trail

#DigitalBridgend is a new and innovative smartphone application that challenges users to find almost 300 places of historical interest throughout the County of Bridgend. Using augmented reality to find your way around, there are no less than 17 trails to follow, games to play, quizzes and scavenger hunts to unearth the unique heritage of this fascinating part of Wales. This series of blog posts reviews each trail in turn on location. The app is now available on Apple and Android platforms.

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Now that the rain has finally stopped after much of Britain caught the tail end of 'Storm Barney',  I can continue my journey through the Digital Bridgend app, and today, it's back up the Ogmore Valley to the village of Nantymoel.

I start once again in the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet just off the M4, yet another coffee and of course wifi (although my iphone already has the information downloaded as I have previously completed an Ogmore Valley trail some weeks ago). It's great that that information once downloaded remains on the phone so no need for wifi this morning after all. Coffee, I do need though.

From the Designer Outlet, it's easy to select one of the three valleys heading north from here. The valleys are all well signposted so I follow the brown signs to the Ogmore Valley, but not before activating the trail on the app which tells me that the first place I need to find is over 12km away.

It takes about 20 minutes through familiar territory for me, including passing through Ogmore Vale, which we covered previously. Arriving at Nantymoel, a useful tip, don't follow the signs to the village when you get to the clock tower in the middle of the road, take the mountain road to the right and head up towards the valley head. It's a lovely drive taking in some great scenery and waterfall features before zig-zagging your way to the top of what is known locally as 'the Bwlch'.  There's a parking stop at the top, where usually you will be greeted by some ice-cream loving sheep (the ice cream van is not there today though!), and in front of you, there is a spectacular and typical Welsh valley view taking in the community of Treorchy in the world famous Rhondda Valley.

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This view point has to be one of the must visit places in Wales, and parking the car I'm directed up a path looking for the first point in the trail 'Bwlch Y Clwdd'. It's quite a steep walk and about 400m from the layby, but worth it when you get there - as well as the view of the Rhondda, in front of you now, if it's clear, you can see the entire Ogmore Valley and in the distance, the sea at Porthcawl. An amazing 360 panorama.

Despite the pleasant view, the commentary on the app eventually triggers at what must be one of the highest points in Bridgend County, we learn about a tragic event where two military planes crashed at the summit here within 90 minutes of each other in 1940. There is a memorial stone on the side of the road commemorating this sad event.

For the next point, we head back down the valley to Nantymoel itself and search for the 'Miners Federation Memorial'. I park the car on the side of the road near the Clock Tower, and head off on foot passing the rugby field along a well maintained path through a park. After a very pleasant walk, I soon find the memorial that marks the tragic fact that 308 men and children have lost their lives in local collieries. The memorial also lies over the shaft of the former Wyndham colliery, which today has been reclaimed by the valley and is now a popular community walk and park. 

From this point on, the app tells me to find Dinam Street which is around 350 metres away back into the village. Once I get there, I'm told (via an interactive timeline on the app) of the fascinating commercial history of this street. The mine owners also owned the stores here, and as in other parts of industrial Wales, would have paid their workers in tokens only to be redeemed in these premises forcefully retaining the spend and profits. This led to the founding of the Nantymoel Industrial Cooperative Society which eventually acquired property in the street, opened stores of their own, including the very first self service grocery store in 1951, which at its peak grossed £1m per annum!

Nantymoel 1

Leaving Dinam Street, I'm guided by the app back towards the Clock Tower, and to a landscaped vacant plot in the centre of the village where once stood the famous Berwyn Centre, the former miners institute funded by the generous contributions from local miners, this became the centre of all political and leisure activity in Nantymoel and it even included a 1000 seater auditorium.

The next challenge is to find the Ocean / Western Colliery. Another short walk away where I encounter a treasure hunt in the app, which provides us with a quick and brief history of the colliery. It explains the role that this colliery played in the development of the valley and the village of Nantymoel at its head.

Onwards, now the app instructs me to find 'Station Road' which was a bit of a challenge if I'm honest (but that's only because I didn't read the text instructions on the app. It clearly says to bear right but I went left!). Anyway, the icon on the viewfinder that we must follow soon told me that 'Station Road' was within 50m, but what was confusing me was the fact that I had to walk up a steep path to the road looking down on the river and valley floor. I got there in the end and discovered why the icon for this trail is indeed a running shoe - Station Road was the birthplace of famous Olympian Welsh Athlete and World Record Holder 'Lyn the Leep' Davies.  It was great to learn that all Nantymoel children were given a free commemorative mug in honour of the achievement of their local hero, whose world record long jump in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics stood for over 30 years!

Nantymoel 4

The final two points in this trail take us back down the steep path to an interesting treasure hunt on the green valley floor below Station Road. This was once the site of the old station, and finishing up on another street of terraced houses called Nantymoel Row, where the app recalls a story of another local hero, James Llewelyn Davies who lived at number 8. He was a WW1 hero who due to his brave efforts in France, where he was sadly killed in action, was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery.

This trail provided yet another insight into the history and culture of this proud valley. Allow yourself around 2-3 hours maximum, and it is best done by car for the first point, and then easily achieved on foot for the Nantymoel section once you return down the valley after visiting the spectacular viewpoint from the Bwlch.

Digital Bridgend, Porthcawl

Digital Bridgend: Porthcawl and Coast - the Railway and Resort trail

#DigitalBridgend is a new and innovative smartphone application that challenges users to find almost 300 places of historical interest throughout the County of Bridgend. Using augmented reality to find your way around, there are no less than 17 trails to follow, games to play, quizzes and scavenger hunts to unearth the unique heritage of this fascinating part of Wales. This series of blog posts reviews each trail in turn on location. The app is now available on Apple and Android platforms.

This week, sees us back in Porthcawl again, to discover yet more hidden heritage in this still ever popular Victorian seaside resort.

From the app home screen, select the 'lighthouse' icon (for Porthcawl) and then from the four options you have available, chose the 'steam train' icon and this will take you to the beginning of the DLPR and Resort Trail.

Porthcawl 1

DLPR by the way stands for the famous Dyffryn Llynfi Porthcawl Railway, which we have come across so may times on other trials in this app. It was clearly one of the most important industrial heritage developments that shaped the area and I'm sure today we are going to learn a lot more about its role in the evolution of Porthcawl from an industrial port into one of Wales most popular seaside resorts.

What I like about this trail is that it neatly combines walking with driving and it's quite easy to complete if you have a little over two hours to spare.

To begin with, I started on foot leaving the car in one of Porthcawl's many car parks or roadside parking. Fortunately, it's October at the moment and easy to park on the side of the road, and then to head off to the start of this trail. The app tells us that we are searching for the 'DLPR memorial' along the town's harbour wall, towards the lighthouse. So this first one, was very easy to find.

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We learn that Porthcawl as a town can trace its very beginnings to precisely 22nd January 1825 which was the date that an Act of Parliament was granted to allow the construction of the DLPR.  This was pioneering at the time and made Porthcawl Britain's first railway port.

Next it's a short walk, around 30m to the Jennings Building, which we are told is one of the oldest maritime buildings in Wales, built in 1832. It was used to store iron awaiting shipment at the terminus of the DLPR.

After listening to the commentary, we are then challenged with a game to complete, that's fortunately not too difficult. It's a game where you must make sure the right trains are directed  down the right railway line, which would have been a challenge back in the day for sure at this busy railway port. Best advice I can offer when you arrive at the game, is to read the instructions of course, and you'll sail it (no pun intended!).

Porthcawl 3

We are now directed to the opposite side of town and are guided through Porthcawl's busy John Street, crossing the road at the end to find the site of the 'Old Station'. The commentary triggers just outside the pub the Royal Oak, and it refers to the former station site just across the road from there.

Next point, is the 'New Station', which takes us back along John Street but not before I stop by at one of the many cafes in this area for a much needed coffee. There's one or two traditional cafes around here that don't necessarily look good on the outside, but are great on the inside. These are certainly cafes as they once were and cafes as they should be! The same old adage applies to Porthcawl as other holiday destinations, if it's full of locals, then it must be good! These places always look busy.

Anyway, after finding the site of what was known as the 'New Station', you may be surprised to discover that despite its name, there is no station to be seen! It's a car park today but nonetheless we are told some interesting facts about the latter role of the railway in bringing thousands of visitors to the resort in its heyday. A scavenger hunt follows that takes you all around the car park to discover images of the former station and some additional interesting facts and figures. For instance, in the 1930s more than 70,000 visitors a week arrived in Porthcawl and a ticket from here to London Paddington once cost just a little more than £1! How times have changed.

We are now close to the harbour again and the next point to find is called 'the Rest' and located around 2.7km away to the west. So, it's back to the car for this one!
'The Rest' as the name implies is located at Rest Bay, one of the best surfing locations in Wales. It's a beautiful sandy beach and a must visit site in Porthcawl. 'The Rest' itself is the large ornate building located on the other side of the car park, near the Royal Porthcawl Golf Club. It was one of the country's first convalescence homes established by a Dr James Lewis who even wrote to Florence Nightingale for her advice!

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The last four points of interest are all related to the growth of tourism in the post industrial period of Porthcawl's history. The trail takes us back into the town by road passing the Seabank Hotel, the Grand Pavilion, the Promenade and of course Coney Beach. The commentary for the first three was all triggered from the car as I drove passed these points, and by having Bluetooth active on my phone,  I was actually able to play this commentary automatically through my car stereo speakers, which was great quality and very convenient. The last point is a little different though, this one triggers right on the beach in front of the fun fair that Porthcawl is undoubtedly still famous for. (So roll up your trousers if the tide is in!). It's here that I learn that Coney Beach Pleasure Park was originally built to entertain American troops returning from WW1 and was named as a tribute to the amusement park on Coney Island in New York.

So, another trail done, an excellent way to explore Porthcawl if you're short of time and learn so much in the process. Definitely one of the less demanding trails in the #DigitalBridgend series that can be done on foot or by bike or both. I do advise taking the car out to Rest Bay though especially if the weather is not too nice. Really enjoyed this trial today, I'm already looking forward to where the app takes me next week.

Digital Bridgend, Pontycymer

The Pontycymer Trail in the Garw Valley

#DigitalBridgend is a new and innovative smartphone application that challenges users to find almost 300 places of historical interest throughout the County of Bridgend. Using augmented reality to find your way around, there are no less than 17 trails to follow, games to play, quizzes and scavenger hunts to unearth the unique heritage of this fascinating part of Wales. This series of blog posts reviews each trail in turn on location. The app is now available on Apple and Android platforms.

This week, it's another visit to 'the Garw' to review one of three available #DigitalBridgend trails in the valley, and as I'm starting to get to know my way around these days, I'm confident to kick off my morning with a visit to Bryngarw Country Park. The trail I'm following today is the Pontcymer trail, a village that I normally pass through but honestly know hardly anything of its history, so this should be a good one for me.

Bryngarw Country Park

Bryngarw Country Park is not the first point of interest on the trail, but it marks the beginning of the Garw Valley cycle path, that takes you to Pontcymer and beyond to Blaengarw if you wish. So the excellent new café in the park is ideal for a quick 'cuppa', before heading off by bike or car! I chose the latter, but it's just as easy and probably more pleasant on two wheels rather than four if I'm honest.

So. I launch the #DigitalBridgend app on my iphone, select the Garw Valley (the railway icon on the homescreen) and then the axe symbol (which is the Pontcymer trail). Fortunately, I've already downloaded all the additional content that I need for the Garw Valley previously, so pressing the big 'play' button on the Pontcymer page on the app, I'm straight into action, and I'm told the first place I must find is a chapel, about 5 km away.

Pontycymer 1

Following the directions given on the app, that always pop up for all points of interest as soon as you start the trail, it's a short drive up 'the Garw' and I must keep my eyes peeled for the first bridge that I come across on the left hand side. I find it, park up on the side of the road and there in front of me is Tylagwyn Chapel. I walk towards it, and right on cue, the commentary pays on the app. It tells me that this baptist chapel was the first in the valley and the river nearby (even when it was frozen over) was used to baptise the local congregation. Sounds quite the opposite to a baptism of fire to me I must admit.

The second point of interest is only around 150 metres away so we can leave the car parked on the side of the road near the chapel, and continue on foot to find the Pont-Y-Rhil Junction. This time, the commentary is activated by the app, just as you walk over the bridge that crosses over the railway line and junction that played such a major part in the industrialisation of the valley and in particular the transport of coal to the docks in Cardiff. Interestingly ,a railway station was built for passengers but instead of purpose built carriages, initially, they'd wash out the open top coal wagons, put benches in them and offer passengers a ride to Maesteg (including a 1km long tunnel ride too!).

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We press the play button again, and continue our journey up the valley until we reach the site of the Lluest colliery. Once again, this is on the side of the main road through the Garw Valley, so it easy to park and indeed, there's a convenient lay-by around 100 metres from our next point of interest. It's quite sad to discover yet another local mining accident had cost lives in the Lluest Colliery, with 19 men and boys being victims of an explosion on this site in 1899. Today, it is poignantly commemorated by a coal dram positioned at the site where you can also see on the hillside remains from the stone arches that once formed part of this colliery.

Onwards to the next point in the trail, so its back to the car (or the bike) and continue along the main road (or cycle path) only a km or so to find a chapel made of tin! The delightfully named Pant-Y-Gog Chapel is also visible from the side of the road so it's easy to park outside and its an interesting place to take a quick look around. The commentary at this stage tells us that this unique place of worship is one of the few remaining corrugated prefabricated chapels that once populated the valleys throughout Wales to meet the demand for non-conformism. The tin chapels and building were a quick and convenient way to erect a building after the method of galvinising zinc with iron reduced corrosion significantly. However, over the years, rust has eventually started to get the better of the building as can be seen today by viewing this remarkable relic from the main road through the valley.

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Before leaving the tin chapel, the app has a nice surprise challenge for the user to complete, where you must use your finger on the screen of your phone to drag the prefabricated parts onto a template of the tin chapel in order to erect the building as quickly as possible. Ingenious really, and one of the easier games on the app to enjoy! Even I completed it. It cleverly illustrates the point that these prefabricated tin chapels could be erected very quickly, were springing up all over the valley sides and because of that, and their basic appearance, it's fair to say that they were not everyone's cup of tea.

Next stop, we become aware about a local character, called Merlin, a recent renown Welsh harp maker who I was told by a local who I stopped to talk to that he used to recently ride a penny-farthing through the village much to the amazement and amusement of passers-by in this day and age. That's what I love about this place, there's a wealth of local quirks and facts that are hidden and sometimes only unearthed in conversation with people in the know. So, pop into a café and talk away, this is the Garw Valley, very friendly, and they do like to chat up here that's for sure!

The Ffaldau Workmens Institute and the Pontycymer Square provided an interesting lesson in local history before I moved on to what I think was the best part of this trail, the Garw Valley Railway. For the Square, and all the remaining points in this trail, I found the best place to park was near the local supermarket 'the co-op', as the last stage is all within walking distance of this point.

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First, I'm guided by the app over the bridge and down passed a leisure centre and on towards a modern yet basic industrial 'hanger-like' building where the commentary kicked in to tell me all about the significance and history of the local railway.  I was perhaps very fortunate to bump into one of the 85 volunteers who today are working hard to preserve, restore and hopefully reopen the railway line that once stretched the 4 miles from Pontcymer to Bryngarw. I was taken into the large 'hanger' which was in fact the engine shed that today houses the former engines and carriages that would have once been a frequent sight in these parts. This was a real unexpected find, and it's amazing to think that this incredible 'museum' and railway enthusiasm exists hidden away in a valley in the middle of South Wales. I found the app to be really useful here because it presents the user with a number of images of the rolling stock that you can see before you, and there is corresponding text informing us about the history and other facts surrounding each vessel.

I am now directed to the final few points nearby and discover that within yards of where I stand, there have been some quite famous feet standing here before me. The app tells me that the former theatre site known as the Rink once hosted Stan Laurel (of Laurel and Hardy fame) and the authentic Italian café called Station café just across the road was a recent film set featuring Welsh actors Ioan Gruffydd and Matthew Rhys, both Hollywood stars of course who were required to serve behind the counter! This café is definitely worth a visit, it has a story of its own and was once the centrepoint for the whole valley housing a jukebox and a giant brass Gaggia coffee machine. The final point in the trail is a short walk through a restored landscape that once bore the scars of the Fladau Colliery that once dominated the centre of Pontycymer.

In summary, a great little trail which hardly requires any walking at all if by car, and a very pleasant gentle cycle ride if you decide to go by bike from Bryngarw Country Park. Allow around 2 hours max for this, even though I could have easily spent all this time looking at the locomotives in  the Engine Shed. Another part of hidden Bridgend unearthed, I look forward to next week's adventure. Until then.   

Digital Bridgend, The Ogmore Vale Trail

#DigitalBridgend is a new and innovative smartphone application that challenges users to find almost 300 places of historical interest throughout the County of Bridgend. Using augmented reality to find your way around, there are no less than 17 trails to follow, games to play, quizzes and scavenger hunts to unearth the unique heritage of this fascinating part of Wales. This series of blog posts reviews each trail in turn on location. The app is now available on Apple and Android platforms.

Today, we unearth the heritage of the Ogmore Valley, one of the three great valleys that stretch north from the M4 near Bridgend. Once you exit the motorway at Junction 36 (the Designer Outlet in Bridgend), it's straight forward. The signage is excellent, you just select the valley of your choice from the roundabout, and off you go.

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On the Digital Bridgend app, from the homescreen, click on the icon that best depicts the Ogmore Valley, and that's the one in the top left hand side showing a river meandering through scenic hills. Once done, you will then be presented with three trails in this area, select 'the bell' icon which is the trail through the village of Ogmore Vale, about 5 miles north of the M4. The app reveals the significance of the bell during the trail, so more about that later.

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I'm instructed to head north to the site of the former coal washeries in Ogmore Vale. Easy to find, and a pleasant drive through a wooden valley. Arriving in the village, I'm taken alongside the rugby field, double backing along the valley slightly, until the commentary for this first point of interest eventually triggers as I approach the picnic spot. I'm at the base of the valley floor in a spot that feels quite secluded but you can clearly see despite the scenic setting, that the land all around here was once scarred by heavy industry. There's a timeline on the app at this stage that allows us to select different periods in the mining history of this valley. Given the beauty and greenery today, it's difficult to imagine that this area was once blackened by the coal that the Ogmore Valley was famed for.

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Having been fully briefed on the significance of this site and the role that the Valley played industrial South Wales, I decide to leave the car near the rugby filed (as there's plenty of room to park) and head off on foot along a community cycle and pedestrian route into the village itself. The next point I'm looking for is 2km away and is actually a former outdoor swimming baths!

As I follow the icon on the screen towards the swimming baths site, I realise that this trail could easily be done by bicycle, the route is great, it's flat, paved and well maintained. The walk takes me across the main road and around the back of the houses that line this typical linear Welsh valley village until I arrive at a point in the heart of Ogmore Vale where the swimming baths once stood.  Should I have stumbled across this place by chance, I probably would not have realised that this was once a focal point for the whole valley during the early 20th Century. The popular baths were actually fed by the mountain stream and the app shows some excellent photographs of how this area once looked in its heyday. The tin structure was actually built over the River Ogmore and the village even hosted diving competitions many years ago. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that these baths only closed in 1998!  The app now launches into a quiz about some of the other leisure activities that would have been enjoyed locally alongside the swimming. You have to complete this before heading off to the next point - the Aber Colliery.

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For the Aber Colliery, I'm directed towards the site of the fire station on the valley side. You have to follow the footpath behind the station which offers commanding views of the valley and the village below, so is worth the walk just for the vantage points. The commentary and image slideshow of the former colliery 'kicks in' as you walk along the path and you can clearly see where the workings were once located. I learn from the app that Aber was one of the oldest mines in the valley (first sunk as a drift mine in 1865) but sadly the colliery is remembered for yet another local mining tragedy when 5 men lost their lives through an explosion on 1888.

From this point, the app now invites us to explore Cwm y Fuwch, further along the path, up the side of the valley. A pleasant stroll along a footpath that takes us a few hundred metres behind the fire station. The apps tells us that this small tributary valley translated into English actually means 'Valley of the Cow' which is typical of ancient Wales where valleys were once named after animals, perhaps signifying the connection with a Celtic deity. At the site where the commentary starts playing, we learn that there was once possibly an ancient medieval settlement in Cwm Y Fuwch, as there are remains of dry stone walls scattered throughout the area. You can also see the remains of buildings and workings of yet another colliery that was sunk at this site, which quite remarkably used a rope and horse powered tramway to transport the coal down the valley for processing. 

Next, the app takes us back down the valley into the village and a short walk to the former site of the Workman's Hall, on the corner of Commercial Street, which was partly funded by miners donations. Here we are presented with a timeline to explore the various dates in the history of what was once the most iconic and beloved buildings of the Ogmore Valley, the largest of its type in South Wales holding up to a 1000 people at one time. Sadly, we learn that the building was demolished in 1983. Some imagery on the app shows clearly how impressive and significant this building once was for local people. As well as boasting a library, billiards room, a bar and committee rooms, the Hall installed the famous bells in the tower in memory of those who had fallen during the two World Wars.

Completing the timeline, the icon appears on my screen and invites me to follow it to the former railway station site, another short walk away.  At this point, there's a scavenger hunt where the user has to follow the icon to find the various points of interest peppered around the former station. Each point reveals a short history and an image related to the station and its activity. Interesting to learn that the railway linked the valley with Porthcawl on the coast and was also a passenger line, which even offered third class tickets - selling 62,000 of them in 1868! Finishing the Scavenger Hunt, the app now directs us back towards Commercial Street and the site of the famous Gwalia Stores.

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We're told that the Gwalia stores was Ogmore's very own department store and the app challenges users to complete a short quiz about the items that were once sold from the stores which included a bakery, grocery, ironmongers and men's outfitters making it the Harrods of the valley, furnished in mahogany, white marble and plate glass.  On Friday nights, following the distribution of miners pay packers, this store became the hub of the valley marking the beginning of the weekend. Sadly, we learn of its closure in 1983 but fortunately, in 1991 it was re-erected at the Museum of Welsh Life in St Fagans. We are now lead further along the community route to discover yet more innovation form this part of the world and the Electric Light and Power Supply Company. Despite relying on candles, oil and coal for power, in 1891, Ogmore Vale became the first place in Wales to see electric streetlights! The plants closed in 1944 with all electricity after that being supplied via the National Grid.

This trail ends following a nice walk along the valley across the blue bridge over the river Ogmore and to the site of the former Penllwyngwent Colliery in what is today an Industrial Estate. This was a drift mine whereby the owners took full advantage of a quirk in the local geology to drive a drift over a thousand metres into the valley, to access a rich vein of high quality coal needed to fuel the blast furnaces and foundries of the region. The mining techniques used here were innovative at the time with huge investments into technology resulting in 100,000 tones of coal being extracted annually at its peak.

Once you complete this trail, it's a fair walk back to the car, which I parked near the rugby pitch, but walking back through the village there's ample opportunity for a quick bite to eat and to experience the natural warmth of the local people in a couple of the village's pubs and cafes. The highlight for me today was discovering the unique stream fed baths and the walk up the 'Valley of the Cow'. A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon, but allow around 2-3 hours to take it all in. It has been a  fascinating insight into the hidden heritage of Ogmore Vale, the first place in Wales to boast electric street lights!