Pontypool (Welsh: Pont-y-pŵl) is a town of approximately 36,000 people in the traditional county of Monmouthshire, southern Wales. It is situated on the Afon Llwyd river in the county borough of Torfaen. Although situated on the edge of the South Wales' coalfields, Pontypool is regarded as an industrial town with former industries including iron and steel production, coal mining and the growth of the railways. A rather artistic industry which flourished here was Japan or lacquer ware. Today Pontypool is regenerating itself and may be seen as a dormitory town for its neighbours Cwmbran and Newport. There is a folly there. It is one of the goals of the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway
Jasper Tudor, the Lord of Abergavenny and uncle of King Henry VII, on 10th October 1490, made a grant of land to one John ap David, and in the conveyance fixes one boundary as "the highway leading from the church of Trevethin towards the bridge called Pont poell." It would seem therefore that the town gains its name from the bridge placed near the swampy pool which almost certainly would be greater than the forge pond that exists today.
Tradition however says that the name of the town is a corruption of Pont-ap-Howel, or Howel's bridge. The legend tells that David ap Howel was a stout, strong, broad shouldered parson, both "fond of a bottle and fond of a song" but well able to take care of himself. After supper one night David went down to the river and met the Devil himself; an argument followed as to who should build a bridge across the water, and it was agreed that they should join hands for a tug-of -war, and whichever should be pulled across the stream, should build the bridge. After many a pull and heave the Devil at last gave up, and the next morning the villages beheld a newly built bridge of good mortar and stone.
Pontypool grew principally from the manufacture of iron. Although iron was made from 1425 in Pontymoel, Pontypool grew only when Richard Hanbury bought land there in 1588 for making iron. The Hanbury's pioneered the production of iron Japan-ware and with its decorated, lacquered style; 'Pontypool Japan ware' became highly sought-after. The process was a secret, which the family took with them to the grave.
The Hanbury family lived in what was to become Pontypool Park, and around this the town grew. Much of the town's history comes from this family of industrial pioneers. The Napoleonic Wars were kind to The Hanbury's, with increased prosperity due to the demand for munitions. With this increased wealth, Capel Hanbury Leigh extended Pontypool Park House between 1779 and 1840. Highly elaborate, wrought iron gates can be seen at the entrance to the park. These were made in the 1720s and remodelled in 1835 by Thomas Deakin. They were a gift to Major John Hanbury (1664-1734) by the Duchess of Marlborough.
Pontypool hosted the National Eisteddfod in 1924. The stone circle built to commemorate the Eisteddfod can still be seen in Pontypool Park.
Pontypool Rugby Football Club is one of the town's cornerstones. Founded in 1868, the club became a founder member of the Welsh Rugby Union in 1881. The intervening years saw 'Poola' become one of the great teams of Welsh Rugby. The legendary 'Pontypool Front Row', of Windsor, Faulkner and Price was immortalised in song by Max Boyce. Whilst the team's contribution to Wales was seen again in 1983, when Pontypool's "forward factory" produced five of the Welsh pack in the Five Nations Championship.
Between 1996 and 1998 a new bypass was built in the town that completely diverted traffic from the town centre. This added to the decline of many years and much of the town was abandoned by both visitors and businesses. In 2003 plans were drawn up to regenerate the town centre and today the town boasts a Tesco superstore; a redeveloped Crane Street (one of the principal shopping streets) and new shop units including Argos (retailer), Peacocks, Farm Foods & Wilkinson. Plans have also been drawn up to replace the ailing Kwik Save supermarket with an Iceland store. The once famous Clarence Hotel is being dragged out of decades of abandonment and is being converted into flats and offices. In April 2006 a new Wetherspoon pub was opened on Osborne Road and named in honour of John Capel Hanbury, former owner of Pontypool Park House (now St. Alban's R.C. High School).
The leisure centre in Pontypool Park has just finished being refurbished and extended to provide first class facilities for the surrounding area.
Trains: Pontypool is on the Welsh Marches Line
Pontypool Golf Club
Rugby: Pontypool RFC
Rugby: Pontypool United RFC
The Pontypool Veterinary Clinic
48 George St