Trealaw is the longest village in Rhondda Fawr, stretching over two miles from the junction of Cemetery and Brithweunydd Roads in the west, to the junction of Ynyscynon and Partridge Roads to the northwest.
Primarily a dormitory town of the more-famous Tonypandy, its name translates as the Town of Alaw, which derives from Alaw Coch (red melody), the bardic name of Judge Gwilym Williams, who founded the village (along with that of Williamstown a village to the south of Trealaw) during the 'coal-rush' of the nineteenth century. Judge Williams is also commemorated in Trealaw by Judges Hall and in Ynyscynon Road, named after the Williams' family seat at Ynyscynon, near Aberdare in the Cynon Valley. Judges Hall is a community venue used in its heyday for variety performances, boxing tournaments and snooker. Today it is used for Bingo and youth activities.
Trealaw is the site of one of the Rhondda's largest cemeteries, Llethrdu, which opened in 1875. In the cemetery are many reminders of the tragic loss of life which was an everyday reality in the valley's coalmining era, including many of the thirty-one victims of the Rhondda's last mining disaster at Cambrian Colliery in May 1965.
Because of its length, Trealaw is served by no fewer than three stations on the Valley Lines train services from Cardiff: Dinas, Tonypandy and Llwynypia. Dinas (then known as Pandy station) was the original terminus of the Rhondda Fawr branch, opened by the Taff Vale Railway, until it was extended to Treherbert in 1863.
It is served by Stagecoach Rhondda bus services No 120 between Blaenrhondda and Pontypridd/Caerphilly; and No 174 between ClydachVale/Tonypandy and Porth.
Commerce and Industry
Trealaw has never had very much by way of commerce and industry. At the lower end, there was Davies' soft drinks factory in Marjorie Street, while in Trealaw Road the Co-op and Hopkin Morgan bakeries provided the main employment. All the former have ceased trading. Between the railway and the river, near Trealaw Staion, is Foundry Road, which has a number of industrial units.
There are two primary schools, Alaw Juniors and Trealaw Juniors. The Secondary Modern school for the seniors closed down with the introduction of Comprehensive education in the 1970s, and it burned down soon after.
For recreation, the main venue is Maes-yr-Haf Education Centre, founded by the Society of Friends (Quakers) in the 1920s where everything from pottery to drama was taught. Today, there is a more limited range of activities, while the Dan Murphy Day Centre (named after a former councillor) on the site provides meals and a meeting place for the area's senior citizens. Originally, the village had seven pubs (The Bute Hotel, Dinas Arms, Royal Hotel, Miskin Hotel, Trealaw Hotel (known locally as Paddy's Goose), Colliers Arms and the Ynyscynon Hotel), but the Bute and the Dinas Arms did not survive beyond the 1960s. The Bute was located directly opposite the main entrance to Llethrdu Cemeretery, and acquired the nick-name of The Resurrection because, in the days of walking funerals, the mourners would repair to the Bute to 'resurrect' the deceased with tales and reminiscences over a pint or three. The Bute closed in 1963 and was subsequently demolished to provide a car parking area for the Trealaw Workingmen's Club next door, one of many such clubs in the South Wales mining valleys, built from contributions deducted from workers wages to provide social and educational facilities for the employees. Many of these workingmen's clubs were known as the universities of the working class with their extensive libraries of mostly left-wing literature. In the 19th and early-20th century, behind Dinas Arms was the Brithweunydd Hotel, a low-class lodging house for workers attracted to the area by the burgeoning coal mining industry.
Among the famous people who come from Trealaw are Lord Tonypandy (formerly George Thomas, the Speaker of the House of Commons), and the actor Ray Smith.