Newcastle - From 'A Topographical Dictionary of Wales' (1849)
NEWCASTLE, a parish, consisting of the Higher and Lower townships, in the union of Bridgend and Cowbridge, hundred of Newcastle, county of Glamorgan, South Wales; comprising part of the market-town of Bridgend, and containing 1239 inhabitants, of whom 590 are in the Higher, and 649 in the Lower township. This place, which is situated on the western bank of the river Ogmore, near its confluence with the Ewenny, derives its name from a fortress of later date than that of Oldcastle, on the opposite bank of the Ogmore. By whom these castles were originally built has not been clearly ascertained; but their origin has been attributed to some of the Norman invaders of this part of the principality, who probably erected them for the protection of the territories of which they had obtained possession. The parish is bounded on the north by the parishes of Bettws and Llangonoyd, east by St. Bride's Minor and Coyty, south by Merthyr-Mawr, and west by Laleston. Its surface is very irregular, and exhibits little timber of any kind. The Lower township includes part of the market-town of Bridgend, and presents some good land, producing wheat, oats, barley, potatoes, and hay, with a few turnips. In the Higher township the lands are of rather poor quality, with the exception of a small portion inclosed and cultivated; but they contain coal and iron mines, together with limestone-quarries, in the former of which a considerable number of men are employed. An act of parliament was passed in 1847, enabling the LlynviValley railway company to form an extension of their line, three miles and a half in length, to Newcastle. Besides Bridgend, there is the small village of Aberkenvig in the parish. The scenery is generally pleasing, and from the eminence on which the church is situated is a fine view, including the influx of the Ogmore into the Bristol Channel, the castles of Coyty and Ogmore, and the mansion of Coytreh�n, higher up the river Ogmore, with its luxuriant groves; forming an assemblage of picturesque objects.
The Tondu iron-works, in the Upper division of the parish, are pleasantly situated within a quarter of a mile north-west of the village of Aberkenvig, and near the Porthcawl railway, now the property of the Llynvi-Valley railway company. They consist of two blast furnaces, with every requisite convenience for the manufacture of pig-iron. Small quantities of blackband, sufficient to indicate the presence of that cheaply-wrought species of ironstone, have been discovered on the property; but the supply of blackband used here is obtained from a place called Tywyth, in the Upper hamlet of the parish of Llangonoyd, whence it is conveyed to Tondu by railway. The Tondu iron-works form one of the several establishments which have made the Vale of Llynvi remarkable as a great seat of the iron-trade.
The living is a discharged vicarage, with the livings of Bettws, Laleston, and Tythegston annexed, rated in the king's books at �7. 7. 3�., endowed with the rectorial tithes of the parish of Bettws, and in the patronage of the Lord Chancellor; present net income, �197, with a glebe-house. The church, dedicated to St. Illtyd, is an ancient structure with a tower, and is situated at Bridgend, on the declivity of an eminence; it is supposed to have been erected in 1200, and is sixty feet long and twenty broad, containing about 200 sittings, of which sixty are free. The town of Bridgend, which is partly in Coyty parish, contains also several places of worship for dissenters, and a chapel of ease to the church of Coyty. At Penyvray, in the parish of Newcastle, is a place of worship for Particular Baptists; and at Aberkenvig, one for Calvinistic Methodists. The interest of �10, bequeathed by Mr. Watkins, and vested in the Bridgend turnpike-trust, is annually distributed among the poor; but two charities of �10 and �5 by Rachel Mathews and John Austin have been lost. The only remains of the ancient castle are, a gateway remarkable for the elegance of its pointed arch, and the ruins of the wall which inclosed the site; the area has been converted into a garden: they are the property of the Earl of Dunraven.