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(Created page with " 1900 'Welsh Tit-Bits by Cadrawd .... Coal was worked in several places in the Afon Valley for industrial purposes nearly a hundred years. There were works at Taibach long be...")
1900 'Welsh Tit-Bits by Cadrawd .... Coal was worked in several places in the Afon Valley for industrial purposes nearly a hundred years. There were works at Taibach long before anything of the kind was thought of at Cwmnafon. Coal was conveyed on horses in the earlier part of this centnry from the valley to work the iron forges at Aberafon and Briton Ferry, and a wooden railroad was built in the last century to convey coal from a level at Mynyddbychan to Taibach. Coal was sold in those days a not by ton but by the sack.
The population of Michaelston-super-Afon at the beginning of this century altogether could not exceed 250 souls, the number of dwelling-houses were only 46. When it was found that the valley abounded in rich veins of iron and coal, a blast furnace was built at Pontrhydyfen. But before erecting the furnace the canal was made to bring water to the place selected for the blast furnace, which was to be worked by a water-wheel of enormous size. It was for this purpose the viaduct at Pontrhydyfen was built, which bears the date 1819. The greatest engineer at that time in this part of the country, whose skill was much talked about when I was a boy, was Jenkin Rees, of Pwllygwlaw, who had undertaken the erection of the great water-wheel which was to work the great blast furnace at Pontrhydyfen, and for years when any accident happened to this huge water-wheel no one but himself could set it in motion.
It seems that the gentleman who had speculated in the erectson of the first blast furnace at Pontrhydyfen before it was started went into liquidation, having spent all his money, and was obliged to retire. His interest was purchased by the first company which started to develop the resources of the valley, under the name of Vigurs and Smith, and the furnace was first lighted in the year 1820. A small forge was soon erected near the blast furnace, and the iron bars were conveyed from here to Ynysygerwn, in wagons drawn by horses, a distance of about eight miles....'