Neath (Welsh: Castell-Nedd) is a town and community with a population of approximately 47,000, located on the river of the same name in the traditional county of Glamorgan, South Wales.
Historically Neath was the crossing place of the River Neath and has existed as a settlement since at least Roman times, following the Roman invasion of Britain in the 1st Century AD.
There is evidence of undated settlements on the hills surrounding the town, which were probably Celtic. Human remains of a female were discovered 25 miles away at Pavilland Cave on the Gower Peninsula dated 24,000 BC proving that humans lived in the region during the last Ice Age. Neath was on the southern edge of the ices sheet with the Vale of Neath being a glaciated valley. Vegetation and animal life migrated to the area following the recession of the ice around 15,000 years ago.
The Romans used the name Celt (outsiders) for the unfederated European tribes outside of their empire and the tribes inhabiting the Neath area before Roman times would have been Celtic.
Nidum is the name of the Roman fort discovered close to a housing state, known as Roman Way, on the west side of the River Neath whereas Neath town is on the east side of the river. The fort covered a large area which now lies under the playing fields of Dŵr-y-Felin Comprehensive School.
The Roman occupation of Britain ended in the 5th Century AD and at that time Christianity was spreading from the east. St Illtyd, a prominent Celtic warrior and Celtic saint who became a Christian was a major force in establishing Christianity within Wales having taught St David, the patron saint of Wales.
St Illtyd visited the Neath area and established a settlement in what is now known as Llantwit on the northern edge of the town. The church of St Illtyd was built at this settlement and was enlarged in Norman times. The Norman and pre Norman church structure remains intact and active to day within the Church in Wales.
Neath was a market town that expanded with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th Century with new manufacturing industries of iron, steel and tinplate. The Mackworth family, who owned the Gnoll Estate were prominent in the towns industrial development.
Coal was mined in the surrounding valleys and the construction of canals and railways made Neath a major transportation centre and the Evans & Bevan family were major in the local coal mining community and also owned the Vale of Neath Brewery.
The town also continued as a market trading centre with a municipal cattle market run by W.B.Trick.
The River Neath is a navigable estuary with Neath having been a river port until recent times.
Industrial development continued throughout the 20th Century with the construction by British Petroleum of a new petroleum refinery at Llandarcy.
The heavy industries are no more with the town being a commercial centre and tourist attraction.
The Welsh name for Neath is Castell Nedd, which refers to the Norman Neath Castle, which is close to the shopping centre.
Other major attractions for visitors are the ruins of the Cistercian Neath Abbey and the Gnoll Park.
The previous borough council was absorbed into the larger unitary authority of Neath Port Talbot on April 1, 1996. The town encompasses the electoral wards of Neath East, Neath North and Neath South.
The Town and the surrounding area is represented at Westminster by Peter Hain MP (Labour) and in the National Assembly for Wales by Gwenda Thomas AM (Labour)
- The Welsh Rugby Union was formed at a meeting held at the Castle Hotel.
- Neath Rugby Football Club, the famous "Welsh All Blacks", play at The Gnoll.
- Lord Admiral Nelson stayed at the Castle Hotel en route to Milford Haven when the fleet was at anchor there.
- Lt Lewis Roatley, the son of the landlord of the Castle Hotel, served as a Royal Marines officer with Lord Admiral Nelson aboard HMS Victory for the Battle of Trafalgar.
- Neath is the native town of some famous Hollywood actors including Anthony Hopkins, Richard Burton and Ray Milland. The international theatre director Michael Bogdanov was born in Neath.
- The town has produced some talented and successful classical singers and musicians, including Ivor Emmanuel, the international sopranos Rebecca Evans and Gail Pearson, classical singer Katherine Jenkins, the rock singer Bonnie Tyler and classical pianists Gordon Back and Andrew Matthews-Owen.
- Neath hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1918, 1934, and 1994.
- Craig Y Nos, which is a village close to Neath, was chosen by the famous opera singer Adelina Patti to live. She constructed Craig Y Nos Castle as her home; it includes a miniature opera house where she entertained her house guests. Craig Y Nos was the first place to have electricity installed in Wales.
- In a 1993 edition of FHM The Parade, Neath was infamously named the second most likely place in the UK to encounter a fight on a Friday night.
- In April 1980, it was reported that thousands of fresh garden peas pelted down in Tonna (Neath) over a man called Trevor Williams in some freakish weather phenomenon.
Rugby: Neath Athletic RFC
Rugby: Neath RFC
Trains: Neath is on the South Wales Main Line
Football: Llansawel AFC
Football: Neath Athletic FC
Gnoll Estate Golf Course
Neath Port Talbot
St James Veterinary Group
35a Lewis Rd