In South Wales we found the fascinating industrial heritage of Tredegar, a small city with some huge tales to inform! Born from iron and coal that have been mined right here in “The Valleys”, the city has some well-known residents who fought for improved working circumstances inside the business. We adopted within the footsteps of Aneurin Bevan, who grew up in Tredegar and on turning into Minister of Well being in 1945 led the formation of the Nationwide Well being Service, with free healthcare for all. Learn on for the tales we uncovered in Tredegar and the characters we encountered, from Chartists to Iron Masters to Nye Bevan, often called the ‘father of the NHS”.
This text could comprise affiliate hyperlinks that present fee on purchases you make at no additional value to you. As an Amazon Affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases.
Within the footsteps of Aneurin Bevan and the NHS
The current historical past of Tredegar has been colored by social reformer and politician Nye Bevan who was born within the city and grew up in a household of 10 kids. On the age of 14 he left faculty and began work at Tŷ Trist Colliery, however in his spare time he liked to learn and progressively educated himself via the library of the Tredegar Workman’s Corridor.
As a younger lad, Nye Bevan suffered from a speech obstacle, which he overcame via training speeches on lengthy walks throughout the moors at close by Trefil.
Employment within the city was dominated by the Tredegar Iron and Coal Firm and Aneurin noticed that enhancements for the working man would solely be achieved by gaining political energy to drive via change.
He was a part of a socialist dialogue group referred to as the Question Membership, placing himself ahead for political workplace, beginning as a union consultant, then turning into elected to the District and County councils, lastly profitable the Ebbw Vale Parliamentary seat for Labour.
Following the Second World Battle, Nye Bevan was appointed as Minister for Well being within the new Labour Authorities and between 1945 and 1950 he led the formation of the Nationwide Well being Service, based mostly on a mannequin of healthcare that he had seen working nicely in Tredegar.
Often known as an excellent orator who was ready to problem wealth and privilege, Bevan described himself as “a projectile discharged from the Welsh Valleys” who at all times fought for the working man. Voted as first within the checklist of 100 heroes of Wales, he’s quoted as saying;
“Once I hearken to the cacophony of harsh voices attempting to intimidate, I shut my eyes and hearken to the silent voices of the poor”
Bedwellty Home in Tredegar
To uncover a number of the tales of Tredegar, we began at Bedwellty Home, a Grade II listed mansion, surrounded by a 26 acre Victorian backyard. Inbuilt 1822, this was the house of Samuel Homfray, an Ironmaster who was one of many co-owners of the Tredegar Ironworks.
Following a £5M renovation in 2011, the mansion is now run by the Tredegar City Council and used as an training centre, council places of work, wedding ceremony venue and cafe, and is free to go to.
Bedwellty Home has connections with Aneurin Bevan who was elected in 1922 to the Tredegar City District Council and attended conferences within the council chamber inside the home.
We have been in a position to go to the council chamber and watch a brief video about Bevan’s life, sitting within the precise picket benches the place he spoke up forcefully for higher working and dwelling circumstances among the many native miners and iron staff.
Wandering via the encompassing gardens of Bedwellty Park, we loved the decorative grotto, icehouse and rose backyard near the home, in addition to a water cascade and walks among the many specimen bushes that have been specified by the twentieth century.
Look out for the large block of coal, that was initially meant to be despatched to the Nice Exhibition of 1851 in London, however at 11.5 tons it proved too heavy to move and was placed on show in Bedwellty Park as an alternative.
The Orchid Tea Room is a favorite place for lunch domestically, a glazed extension constructed on the location of the unique Orchid Home, which was heated with a furnace and used to show tender vegetation. The cafe serves drinks, desserts and lightweight lunchtime dishes.
We loved our Buck Rarebit, the place the standard Welsh Rarebit is topped with a poached egg. In advantageous climate (which sadly it wasn’t on the day we visited!) you may sit on the terrace exterior the cafe with a view over the lawns and gardens.
Try my information to Massive Pit and the Blaenavon Industrial Panorama in South Wales
The Aneurin Bevan Path round Tredegar
Bedwellty Home is the start line for the Aneurin Bevan Path, taking within the locations round city related to Nye Bevan. You’ll see iron plaques in numerous locations displaying a map of Tredegar and the encompassing space, with factors of curiosity related to the city’s historical past.
It’s price selecting up a leaflet of the path on the city’s heritage centre (No 10 The Circle) or downloading it right here to have the total info on locations to look out for in Tredegar.
Passing by the location of the Workman’s Corridor and library, the place Nye Bevan would borrow the books to coach himself, we walked up the hill to the imposing city clock, which is among the landmarks on the centre of the city.
The 72 ft excessive forged iron clock was the thought of Mrs Davis, spouse of the ironworks supervisor and was positioned within the city sq. in 1859, turning into a gathering level and centre for celebrations within the city.
The previous Market Sq. is now often called “The Circle” and quite a few notable buildings stand at this level, together with the places of work of the Tredegar Medical Support Society on the nook at No 10 The Circle.
Different locations of curiosity in town path embrace the location of the Ty Trist Colliery (now the native complete faculty) the place Nye Bevan started work age 14, and his mom’s residence in Queen Road which he would go to after turning into an MP, briefly utilizing it as a base for his constituency work.
Additionally on The Circle is the Tredegar City Museum which is situated within the library, run by volunteers and housing artefacts and data from Tredegar’s historical past.
Quantity 10, The Circle in Tredegar
At Quantity 10 The Circle, the previous places of work of the Tredegar Medical Support Society have been renovated to make a small heritage centre, which is nicely price a go to. Across the two floor ground rooms are shows that designate how the medical society offered subscription based mostly medical take care of native working folks, with interactive audio and video displays.
Earlier than 1813, native folks usually needed to journey to Abergavenny to be handled, however the Medical Support Society was funded from a small deduction within the wages from the Tredegar Ironworks, making certain that medical care was free and domestically accessible within the city.
The Medical Support Society was an excellent success and Nye Bevan who had been one of many society’s committee members, used it as a mannequin for the NHS when he grew to become Minister for Well being in 1945. On the introduction of the Nationwide Well being Service in 1948, Bevan was quoted in saying,
“All I’m doing is extending to the complete inhabitants of Britain the advantages that we had in Tredegar for a technology or extra – we’re going to Tredegar-ise you”
The Tredegar Trails
No 10 The Circle additionally gives a base for Made in Tredegar, a movie mission to create movies and audio materials from Tredegar. Six completely different themed Tredegar Trails have been developed, that will help you discover the world, together with Bedwellty Park, Across the City and Bevan’s Tredegar.
It’s straightforward to entry the completely different trails, by selecting up a booklet in Bedwellty Home, No 10 The Circle Heritage Centre or Tredegar Museum. When you want to make use of your cellular, look out for colored QR codes to scan at factors round city – every color is for a distinct themed path.
The QR code will take you to the web page on the Made in Tredegar web site with the related audio recording to elucidate what you’re seeing. Or you may entry the audio tracks immediately from the Made in Tredegar Web site.
Tredegar Silver statues
One of many Tredegar Trails that we particularly loved was the Silver Statues, with steel silhouettes of notable figures from the city’s growth as an iron city, from Chartists to Iron Masters.
Going through the city clock, we sat on the bench beside the figures of Nye Bevan and Walter Conway who was born in 1873 and as an orphan, grew up at Bedwellty Workhouse.
Walter went on to grow to be secretary of the Tredegar Medical Support Society in 1915 and it was below his management that the society thrived. The society grew to run two medical surgical procedures with dentists, docs and nurses, offering a free service to twenty,000 native folks.
In Bedwellty Park we additionally discovered the statue of Samuel Homfrey senior, who was the native Iron Grasp. Having married the daughter of Sir Charles Morgan, he was a co-founder of the Tredegar Ironworks on land leased from his father in legislation.
On a part of the land he constructed Bedwellty Home as a genteel residence for his household, nicely away from the dust and noise of the ironworks. It was his son who inherited the ironworks, property and home, remodelling it into the Georgian mansion we see at the moment.
On the reverse finish of the social spectrum are the silver statues of Anne Prosser age 16 and Mary Jones age 15, who labored within the mines within the 1800s. Little one Labour was a typical follow within the mines and ironworks, with lengthy hours exchanged for pay that was 1 / 4 of an grownup miner’s wage.
An investigation into the follow was revealed in 1841, citing the ladies as examples and highlighting harsh working circumstances for kids. The next yr an act of parliament made it unlawful to make use of kids below the age of 10 within the mines.
Uncover the scenic walks within the South Wales Valleys
Aneurin Bevan Memorial Stones
A brief drive exterior Tredegar it’s price stopping on the Aneurin Bevan Memorial Stones, 4 stone monoliths that have been erected on the hillside the place Nye Bevan would give open air speeches to his constituents. Bevan was often called an excellent orator, drawing massive crowds who got here to listen to him communicate.
This location was straightforward to achieve from the three areas that Bevan represented as an MP between 1929 and 1960, of Ebbwr Vale, Tredegar and Rhymney. The central stone of the monument represents Bevan himself and the three others symbolize the cities of his constituency, every pointing of their path.
Quite a few strolling and biking trails run via this space together with the Sirhowy Valley Stroll that begins on the memorial stones and continues to Newport, the place it ends at Tredegar Home (Nationwide Belief), residence of Sir Charles Morgan who leased the land for the Tredegar Iron Works.
The place to eat whereas visiting Tredegar
On our go to to Tredegar, we loved a superb lunch within the Orchid Home tea room at Bedwellty Home, which is open each day for drinks, desserts, sandwiches and residential cooked lunchtime dishes.
For dinner we stopped on the Tredegar Arms Resort and Restaurant, which served the city as a training home earlier than it was transformed right into a pub within the Nineteen Seventies and was given an entire renovation in 2017.
The Tredegar Arms serves glorious pub fare, and Man loved his steak, whereas I ordered a tasty rooster burger with fries, coleslaw and onion rings, adopted by an apple crumble which we shared.
Learn concerning the Wye Valley – what to see, the place to eat and keep
Strolling to the Chartist Cave at Trefil
Near Tredegar is the village of Trefil, a place to begin for some rugged moorland walks and an space the place Nye Bevan liked to stroll and follow his speeches. With our information, Alyson Tippings we took a stroll to a neighborhood landmark, the Chartists Cave.
Bevan undoubtedly took inspiration from the Chartist motion, which was one of many earliest to press for improved circumstances and democratic rights for working males of the mines and ironworks.
The Chartists took their title from the 6 level constitution of rights that they demanded, pushing for working males to have the proper to vote and select their very own illustration in parliament. This motion grew from the 1830s and in 1839 the Newport rising noticed 4000 armed working males from the valleys of South Wales marching in town.
At Newport, they have been met by troopers who fired into the group to place down the rising and the leaders of the rebellion have been subsequently discovered responsible of treason, though their demise sentence was commuted to transportation.
It’s thought that the Chartist Cave was a gathering level within the planning of the rebellion and a spot the place weapons made secretly on the ironworks may very well be hidden.
The small cave is open to stroll inside, the partitions lined with hanging ferns. Two slim openings inside result in additional tunnels which were explored by native cavers however didn’t look very secure or inviting to us! (Notice: don’t attempt to discover the inside chambers with out an skilled caver!)
Nonetheless it was a handy place to shelter from the rain for a cup of tea from the thermos and handmade Welsh cake that our information Alyson kindly offered. After our cease on the Chartists Cave, we made a round route again to our place to begin, passing the wild Welsh mountain ponies who eyed us curiously via the mist and appeared fairly unafraid.
Though they stay out on the moor all yr spherical, these ponies do have homeowners among the many native farmers who regulate them, though they’re by no means ridden or used for any farm work.
Our stroll took us to the excessive level overlooking the Dyffryn Valley the place Nye Bevan’s ashes have been scattered and the Brecon Beacons Nationwide Park, though the climate was so misty and damp that we may barely see any of the views!
We continued alongside the flat tramroad via the outdated Trefil quarry, which was used to provide limestone to the Sirhowy Ironworks. It has lengthy been deserted and we walked again to our place to begin by way of the entry highway for the brand new quarry which continues to be in use.
The place to eat in Trefil
When you make the identical stroll as we did above Trefil, it’s price stopping on the High Home Bar which is a pleasant group pub serving drinks and residential cooked meals.
It was a favorite ingesting spot of Nye Bevan who was born within the space and liked to stroll domestically on the moors. The pub is situated excessive up within the village of Trefil and makes a superb place to finish your stroll to the Chartists Cave.
Go to Guardian of the Valleys, Six Bells
Not removed from Tredegar, we simply squeezed in a go to on the finish of the day to Guardian, a surprising sculpture by Sebastien Boyesen that was commissioned in 2020 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Bells mining catastrophe.
Set on the location of the previous colliery, the names of 45 miners who died within the 1960 catastrophe are minimize into the steel panels across the plinth of the statue. At a distance the sculpture is framed by a pure pool and has an nearly ghostly high quality. Shut up it turns into extra substantial, the determine of a miner with palms outstretched to guard those that danger their lives underground.
The place to remain whereas visiting Tredegar
Tredegar Arms resort and restaurant
We have been touring round a couple of completely different locations in South Wales, so we didn’t keep in Tredegar, however a good selection could be the Tredegar Arms resort and restaurant, which went via a renovation in 2019. The constructing was as soon as a coach home for the Tredegar Ironworks and has been a pub for the reason that Nineteen Seventies.
Positioned within the coronary heart of Tredegar, the resort presents 10 luxurious en-suite bedrooms and suites, in addition to serving glorious pub meals of their restaurant and bar. Test right here for costs and availability of the Tredegar Arms Resort.
Plan your journey to Tredegar
You info on all of the issues to see in Tredegar and the encompassing space of Southern Wales, check out the Southern Wales and Go to Monmouthshire web sites. On social media observe the @SouthernWales, @VisitMonmouthshire and @Dargandecymru (Welsh language) instagram feeds for extra inspiration.
Cottages close to Tredegar
Whereas visiting Tredegar and touring round different elements of South Wales, we stayed at Roundhouse Farm close to Nantyglo. It’s about quarter-hour drive from Tredegar and makes a superb base if you would like self catering lodging that’s near a variety of sights, such because the Blaenarvon World Heritage panorama, Welsh Valleys, Abergavenny and Brecon Beacons.
A quirk of the farm is that it consists of one of many Spherical Towers, constructed by the native iron masters, Joseph and Crawshay Bailey who owned the native ironworks. They constructed this and one other close by spherical tower in 1816, as a spot of refuge, when their staff rioted on account of their wages being minimize.
The towers have been fitted out with forged iron from the foundry and the Grade II listed cottages the place we stayed additionally had uncommon forged iron roof helps.
Spherical Home Farm Cottages at Nantyglo
There are three cottages in a terrace at Spherical Home Farm constructed from the unique barn that varieties one facet of an enclosed farm yard. Up to now working ponies from the mines and foundries could be saved securely in farmyards like this, since with out them the works couldn’t operate.
Ours was a two bed room cottage, Henrietta, and it was a pleasure to remain in a Welsh cottage that was cosy and nicely outfitted, however with contemporary, up to date furnishings.
The open plan floor ground with stone flags and areas of ornamental uncovered stone partitions, included loads of seating, a eating desk and a kitchen space. Upstairs have been a double and single bed room that may be ultimate for a household, styled with tasteful trendy furnishings and a big lavatory with bathe.
We discovered it very stress-free to look out on the inexperienced fields from our bed room to see the sheep and horses grazing close by.
Ebook right here for Roundhouse Farm Henrietta Cottage or their different cottages, Mary and William.
To discover extra about Wales learn my article on the foodie city of Abergavenny – issues to do, the place to remain and eat