Ebbw ValeOr GlynEbwy stands at the head of the valley of the Ebbw Fawr river and is the administrative centre of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council. With a population of 24,422, it is also the largest town in the County Borough. Chiefly a mining and engineering town, it grew in the 19th century with an influx of people from the West Country, the Forest of Dean and the rest of Wales.


Naming of Ebbw Vale
  EBBW VALE / GLYNEBWY (Gwe) Ebboth Fawr (1296). Earliest record: Eboth (river name) (1101-20). Meaning: Ebbw Vale, ‘the vale of River Ebwy’, is an artifical 19th century name. Ebwy comes from WELSH eb- ‘horse’ and either gwyth ‘anger’ or gwydd ‘wild’. WELSH glyn means ‘glen’.

Humble Beginnings

  It's known that between 1224 - 1230 the infamous Norman William de Braose of Abergavenny had conquered the hills and the Moelvan Forest where Ebbw Vale now stands. One of the earliest recorded instances of anyone living in the area dates back to 1346 when the manors of Ebwy Fawr and Ebwy Fechan were charging rent of £29.7s.0d.This remained until 1349 when they charged £5.13s.4d during the Black Death. Before this, the only inhabitants were farmers who had the task of rearing sheep and mountain ponies.

The Coal and Iron/Steel era

At the heart of this town was the Ebbw Vale Iron Works (later to become the Steel Works) and the Many coal mines that were formed around 1790, Brynmawr, was home originally to ironworkers at Clydach, Nantyglo and Blaina.

At the end of the 18th century, the population the Ebbw Fawr valley was only about 140. However the founding of the Ebbw Vale Ironworks in 1778 transformed the valley. In 1781, the furnace and ironworks employed around 70 workers. By 1815, the population of the valley had grown to 1200.

In 1803 the name of Ebbw was still spelt Ebwy and doubtless this was obtained from the river of that name which runs along the side of the town. The town itself is situated one thousand feet above sea level. It is also known that during the last 18 and 19 hundreds the town of Ebbw Vale was know as Pen-y-Cae. Some of the older members of the town still call it by this name. The town itself is situated in one of the many valleys in the hills of South Wales, UK.

The second half of the century saw Ebbw Vale begin to take shape. 1853 saw the opening of the Literary and Scientific Institute. Christ Church was consecrated in 1869.

Conditions for workers in Ebbw Vale gradually improved, with the

working day reduced to nine hours in the 1880s. Also the hated 'Truck Shops' were abolished in 1872. These were often overpriced company-owned shops which people were obliged to use, as the company would allow no other competition. Much of the credit for these improvements lies with the trade union movement, which was strong in the area.

A precursor of the National Health Service was set up here as early as 1851, with the establishment of the first Board of Health in England and Wales.

The Ebbw Vale Company followed the example of Dowlais when in 1866 they commenced the manufacture of steel. In 1875-76 the works comprised of seven five-ton Bessemer converters, six Meland cupolas for supplying molten pig for the converters. six ordinary cupolas for smelting spiegeleisen, one 30" train of rolls driven by a pair of 50" vertical engines of 4’ stroke, six large Siemens gas heating furnaces for ingots and blooms, also twenty-four gas producers. When in full production at that time Ebbw Vale could produce 1,000 tons of ingots per week, 800 tons of rails were rolled per week. In 1886, 154,407 tons of pig iron were made, railway iron bars, angles. etc., 9.894 tons. and from us foundries 7,330 tons of castings.

Mr. Abraham Darby and Mr. Thomas Brown both managing partners of the great concern between the years 1864-1873, were both gifted men of genial disposition, firm yet kind. They were followed by Windsor Richards 1873-75, John F. Rowbotham 1876-1881, C. B. Holland 1881-1892, Franklin Hillon 892-1899. Sir Frederick Mills 1899-1920, A. B. Sweet-Escort 1920-22. F. P. Hann 1922-27.

The works continued to expand, in 1916-17 two mechanically charged blast furnaces were constructed which were partially dismantled and modified in 1936 and a third furnace added.

The Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron & Coal Company was taken over by Richard Thomas & Co., in 1936 and a new steel plant and strip mill was erected. Later, Baldwins amalgamated with Richard Thomas and the works continued to function under the Richard Thomas and Baldwins Group up to the time of steel nationalization under the Labour Government when it was absorbed into what is now known as the British Steel Corporation.

Furnace 1970


The Closurers

In 1984 during Margaret Thatcher's reign as prime minister, the coal mines closed March 1989. On July 5th, 2002 at 10:30am the steel works started it's last shift and bringing an end to the Steel Works and Iron era of Ebbw Vale.

More information on Ebbw Vale's coal industry

(As we all know the only people that governments and councils like are businesses, when these are gone so are the hearts and souls of our communities.)
The Rail Links

  The Trefil Rail Road was constructed in 1793 (Rattenbury, 64) to carry limestone from the Trefil Quarries to the ironworks at Beaufort (est. 1780) and Ebbw Vale (est. 1790). A branch line was constructed from Beaufort Ironworks to Cwm Gwybedog and partly underlies Raglan Terrace, Beaufort (Rattenbury, 74). In June 1796, the Ebbw Vale Ironworks required 16 tons of limestone daily and this was carried along the Rail Road from Trefil in two journeys daily on four 2-ton, horse-drawn iron wagons (Grey-Jones, 44). Between 1796 and 1816, Beaufort Ironworks was managed by Joseph Latham, who also served as Clerk and Treasurer to the Trefil Rail Road (Rattenbury, 48).

The quarries continued to supply limestone to the Ebbw Vale works throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1908, the Trefil Rail Road was converted into a narrow-gauge railway on which two locomotives and hopper wagons brought limestone to the furnaces.

A little to the west of the Rassau Industrial estate ( at SO 1387 1173) is well-preserved, in situ run of four well-preserved, stone sleepers. Sleepers I to III are set at regular 0.75m intervals. Sleeper I (the most westerly) measures 60cm by 30cm, sleepers II and III are 50cm by 30cm. Sleeper IV lies some 6m to the east of sleeper III at SO 1387 1172 (399m OD) and measures 50cm by 52cm.

During the mid 18th century there arose in Abergavenny a desire to tap the wealth generated by the great iron works of Merthyr and Dowlias together with the rapidly developing coal trade. Promoted by the industrialist Crawshay Bailey and following the alignment of his tramway from Brynmawr to Govilon an act was obtained on the 1st August 1859. Work was started in Abergavenny on the 18th June 1860, reaching Brynmawr on the 29th September 1862, the Ebbw Vale and Bleanavon branches were completed in 1867 and 1869 and through to Merthyr in 1879. The MTA however had overdrawn its accounts and was leased to and then swallowed up by the giant LNW Railway in 1867. Through these lines the coal fields of Weanavon, Bleanavon, the Sirhowey and Rhymney valleys, Dowlais and Merthyr and Brynmawr itself were tapped, most of the traffic going to the north through Abergavenny.

The image above shows the rail track from Hereford - Merthyr Tydfil before 1959

The Brynmarw - Ebbw Vale line ran from - platform 1
Depart. 7.25, 8.39, 9.16, 10.00, 11.00, 12.25,
13.00, 14.00, 15.15, 15.40, 16.15, 17.48, 18.22, 19.00, 20.15, 21.13, 22.20

Brynmawr - Ebbw Vale line closed to passengers on 2nd April 1951- .
On the 2nd November 1959 it closed to freight.

Day Month Year Company Event
  1779 Beaufort Ironworks Lease to the Kendall family of land between Beaufort and Gilwern.
  1780 Beaufort Ironworks Opened.
  1794 Rassa Railroad Sirhowy Ironworks connected to the Beaufort Ironworks by the Rassa Railroad. Tramroads served limestone quarries at Trevil and area to the north.
  1799 Beaufort Ironworks Tramway Opened from Crumlin to Beaufort Ironworks.
26 6 1802 Monmouthshire Canal Tramway Act passed for the Monmouthshire Canal to build a line from Newport to Nine Mile Point and from Risca to Crumlin to join the Beaufort Ironworks Tramway.
  1833 Beaufort Ironworks Crawshay Bailey buys ironworks for 45,000. Beaufort starts to supply iron for the mills at Nantyglo.
  1837 Beaufort Ironworks Tramway Passenger station by Victoria Ironworks and Ebbw Vale Company's Victoria Colliery called Victoria.
21 12 1850 Beaufort Ironworks Tramway Aberbeeg opened
    1855 Monmouthshire Canal Tramway Converted to standard gauge and passenger services commence between Newport and Nantyglo.
Beaufort Ironworks Tramway
Blaina Branch
20 10 1855 Taff Vale Extension Connection to the Beaufort Ironworks Tramway at Llanhilleth Junction opened.
    1855 Monmouthshire Canal Tramway Converted to standard gauge and passenger services commence between Newport and Nantyglo.
Beaufort Ironworks Tramway
Blaina Branch
20 10 1855 Taff Vale Extension Connection to the Beaufort Ironworks Tramway at Llanhilleth Junction opened.
1 9 1867 Beaufort Ironworks Tramway, London and North Western Railway, South Wales Link between lines opened.
  1871 Crawshay Bailey Sells the Nantyglo and Beaufort Ironworks for 300,000.
  1872 Nantyglo and Beaufort Ironworks Company Many mines flooded in bad weather.
1 1 1873 London and North Western Railway South Wales Line extended to Dowlais Top and Ivor Junction with the Brecon and Merthyr Railway and access to Dowlais Lloyd Street and the Dowlais Iron Company.
11 1873 London and North Western Railway South Wales Bill for line to Merthyr and the Brecon and Merthyr Railway, Vale of Neath Railway and Geothin Railway.
18 5 1874 London and North Western Railway South Wales, Brecon and Merthyr Railway London and North Western Railway agrees to withdraw Merthyr bill in exchange for joint ownership of the Brecon and Merthyr Railway branch from Dowlais to Merthyr. A link was to be opened from Penywern Junction, by Ivor Junction, and run from there to Morlais on the Brecon and Merthyr Railway.
14 6 1874 London and North Western Railway South Wales Morlais Tunnel completed.
16 7 1874 London and North Western Railway South Wales Act for extension from Penywern Junction to Morlais.
  1874 Nantyglo and Beaufort Ironworks Company Closed.
14 2 1881 London and North Western Railway South Wales Cwmbargoed Junction to Cwmbargoed (LNWR) opened.
4 5 1885 London and North Western Railway South Wales Dowlais High Street opened, through trains to Merthyr stop using Dowlais Lloyd Street, and Dowlais Top closed.
  1937 London and North Western Railway South Wales Cwmbargoed branch closed.
22 11 1954 London and North Western Railway South Wales Freight services transferred to Great Western Railway routes.
6 1 1958 London and North Western Railway South Wales Closed to passengers.
5 2 1951 Beaufort Ironworks Tramway, London and North Western Railway, South Wales Link closed to passengers.
2 11 1959 Beaufort Ironworks Tramway, London and North Western Railway, South Wales Link closed completely.
30 4 1962 Beaufort Ironworks Tramway Closed to passengers.
30 4 1962 Beaufort Ironworks Tramway Aberbeeg closed
The chartists

The Blaenau Gwent Chartists that grew out of the discontent at the failure of the of Parliamentary Reform Act. 1832 and came to ahead at the Westgate Hotel, on the morning of November 4 1839 where a party of 5000 armed men had thronged the streets for almost 30 minutes. More information on this can be found by looking at this Blaenau Gwent Council.

More Information on the chartists

Ebbw Vale Facts at the turn of the 1900's

The School System

Prior to 1878, when the Briery Hill Schools were built, schools existed at Pontygof, Victoria and Ebbw Vale .The Ebbw Vale Schools were known as the Forge Schools and were the predecessors of the Briery Hill Schools. They were situated on a site between the northern end of Holland Street and the building now known as the G.P.O. Postal Sorting Office.

The Ebbw Vale Forge School provide education for children living in Pond Row, Armoury Row, School Row, Forge Row, and Church Row-now replaced by Holland Street, Alexander Street, Church Street and Church Crescent. In addition the settlement of Briery Hill known to Welsh speaking natives as Twyn Dryseog . The English translation for Twyn is
Tump or mound, hence the traditional nickname for the area.

The Ebbw Vale Forge schools had been built and managed by the Ebbw Vale Company, owners of the iron work and forges. They provided very bad accommodation.

An Education Act of 1870 enabled Elementary Schools to be set up throughout England and Wales by locally elected Church School Boards. Ebbw Vale had developed within the boundaries of four churches. So it's schools came under four different school boards-Aberystruth, Bedwellry,Llangattock and
Llangynidir. The last two lay to the North of the valley and were still rural to
A certain extent. Aberystruth, bedweelliy church lay to the east and went of the river Ebbw.

Aneurin Bevan


Was born in Tredegar, Monmouthshire on November 15, 1897. Although not a native Ebbw Valian, Aneurin Bevan The son of a miner, he went down the pit himself at the age of 13 and overcome a severe stammer to become chairman of his local lodge of the South Wales Miners Federation, local Councillor, and eventually a prominent Government Minister where he represented Ebbw Vale in Parliament and served as the town's MP from 1929 until his death in 1960.

His most significant achievement was the shaping of the National Health Service through unifying the network of local authority and voluntary hospitals in a single national system. Medical Aid Societies, formed in the area during the 19th century, provided a model for the National Health Service.

His successor as MP for the area, Michael Foot MP, said Ebbw Vale was, '...a name known all over the world - thanks to steel, Aneurin Bevan and to the individuality of its people and history.'

Steel production in Ebbw Vale was phased out by 1974, with production transferred to Llanwern, in Newport. This was done without large-scale redundancies.

The Garden Festival



On May 1st 1992 the Ebbw Vale Garden Festival was opened to the general public and ran for a period of six months until 4th October 1992. Its mascot was a clown-type figure called Gryff which was Ebbw Vale's version of Mickey Mouse.

The main area of the garden festival is now a housing estate, where sports stars and the like have chosen to live, the wooded area now keeps an owl sanctuary with a shopping area nearby.


Where to Now

The railway link will be reopened in Ebbw vale with six stations that will be located at Ebbw Vale Parkway, Victoria, Llanhilleth, Newbridge, Crosskeys, Risca and Rogerstone with an hourly service to Cardiff that will start in 2005 followed by an hourly service to Newport in 2009, but what they failed to say is that the station will be situated three miles from the town its self or the timetable of these trains.

On Jan 20th 2005 we see that the promise of the Ebbw Vale line reopening scheme had become a victim of the rail industry's out-of-control cost escalation.

Phase 1 (Ebbw Vale to Cardiff hourly) will not now commence until 2007, and instead of a lengthy double-line section in the central part of the route, most of it will be built as single track with single-platform stations. This will preclude a half-hourly service and eliminate freight paths. This hardly inspires confidence that :-

Phase 2 will ever be funded. That was to include building back into Ebbw Vale town, and to Abertillery, with two trains per hour in the valley - one to Newport and one to Cardiff. We regard this later phase as essential if the railway is to fulfil its potential.

Past experience amply demonstrates that when a reopening scheme is built with minimum capital exenditure, subsequent expansion is much more expensive than it would have been if provision had been made at the outset. In the case of Ebbw Vale, the second phase will now be a bigger construction job which will have to take place on a working railway, and this in itself will add to costs.

In January 2005 we see the installation of the cctv cameras the local headlines state that its to protect innocent people from the yobbish culture that is supposed to be rife on the town, ( yes this is true if you also believe the sky is pink with bright green spots, as all this will do is to make the town a no go area for innocent people who concider there civil liberties to be more important and push the so called yobbish culture into the nearby council house estates of Hiltop, Briery Hill and others.)

ARMS (10th March 1958)
Per fesse Sable and Gules masoned Argent a Cross fillet Or in the first quarter a pair of Mill Rolls palwise proper the necks Gold in the second quarter an open Scroll of Parchment also proper.
On a Wreath Or and Sable a Dragon passant Gules breathing fire proper gorged with a Collar of Steel also proper with a Chain of the same attatched thereto passing between the forelegs and reflexed over the back and resting the dexter foreclaw on an Ingot of Steel likewise proper.
'IECHYD AC ADDYSG' - Health and learning.
10th March 1958
  The upper half is black to symbolise the coalfields of Ebbw Vale and the lower half red masoned white to represent the urban status of the district. The pair of mill rolls refer to the important steel industry, the parchent scroll to education, and the masoned division may also be said to allude to brickworking. Over all is set a golden cross emblematic of the Christian community long flourishing in Ebbw Vale and expressive of its aspirations.
The red dragon is for Wales breathing fire in allusion to Ebbw Vale's furnaces. For necessary heraldic difference and in emphasis of the district's flourishing steel industry the dragon has been collared and chained with steel and rests its claw on an ingot of the same metal.

Arms (13th November 1975)

Paly wavy of six Argent and Vert on a Chief dancetty of three points downward per pale Azure and Sable three Fleurs de Lys Or.
On a Wreath of the Colours upon a rocky Mount proper a Dragon passant Gules breathing flames collared with a Ring of Steel and supporting with the dexter foreleg a Pair of Millrolls proper.
On either side a Dragon Gules breathing Flames collared with a Ring of Steel and supporting with the dexter foreleg a Pick Axe head downward proper.
A Roundel paly wavy of six Argent and Vert charged with six Fleurs de Lys Or.
Unity and freedom.

The former Borough of Blaenau Gwent was formed by the amalgamation of the Abertillery Urban District, the Brynmawr Urban District, the Ebbw Vale Urban District, the Nantyglo and Blaina Urban District, the Tredegar Urban District and part of the Crickhowell Rural District.

The shield is a kind of heraldic map illustrating the County Borough's name (Where the valleys meet the mountains of Gwent). The six white and green waves represent the three main valleys and rivers of Sirhowy, Ebbw and Clydach where all the five former constituent areas lie. The three indentations at the top of the shield allude to the mountains above which are the three gold fleurs-de-lys on blue and black from the ancient arms of the Kingdom of Gwent and the modern arms of the Gwent (formerly Monmouthshire) County Council.
The white and green of the wreath are the colours of the Tudors and of Wales. The red dragon is like those in the crests of Ebbw Vale UDC and Crickhowell RDC. The mound of coal, collar of steel, flames and pair of millrolls symbolise the main local industries, and is carried on in the supporters.

Gwents Time line

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