Ystalyfera (grid reference SN767089) is a former industrial village in South Wales. It is situated on the River Tawe in the County of Neath Port Talbot, or more traditionally, West Glamorgan. The estimated population for Ystalyfera and neighbouring Ystradgynlais is 10,247, with an estimate of 4,000 for the Ystalyfera itself. Ystalyfera is also the name of an electoral ward and a community coterminous with the village.
The village has Welsh language schools at both Primary and Comprehensive levels. The Wern (English: Oak) Primary School, which was established at the end of the 19th Century and Ysgol Gyfun Ystalyfera, the latter having consistently good examination results. These schools reflect the high proportion of Welsh speakers in the area.
There is a proud rugby team - an integral part of the village - and also a cricket team.
Ystalyfera is also the home to the Wern Fawr public house, and its famed Bryncelyn Brewery. The Brewery on site produced the Champion Beer of Wales in 2002/3 and 2003/4, coming 3rd in 2004/5. All of the beers produced have a Buddy Holly theme. There is also an interesting collection of local memorabilia, including a wall of local made bricks and a large collection of drawing pins collected by Evan Wilfred a local committee member. Evan was once quoted in the local newspaper as saying "Ystalyfera is the place where the grass is green" after a story was published about Ystalyfera as being a location for a toxic waste dump in the 50's.
- Population density (People / sq mi) 2.8 (24.9 for UK)
- Gender split (Females / male) 1.07 (1.05 for UK)
- Average commute 12.03 miles (8.73 miles for UK)
- Average age 41 (39 for UK)
- Home ownership 12% (16.9% for UK)
- Student population 2% (4.4% for UK)
- People in good health 58% (69% for UK)
The History of Ystalyfera begins with a small farming family who shared the land. This is clearly seen in the name, made up from the Welsh words, YNYS (River Meadow), TAL (End), Y (The) and BERRAN (A Composite of BER and RHAN, which indicates a land-share). The History of the name, can be seen as it evolved through the ages: -
1582 Ynys Tal y Veran
1604 Tir Ynystalverran
1797 Stalyfera Issa, Ycha, Genol
i.e. a short piece of shared land (probably between agricultural labourers).
Ystalyfera grew as a village with the advent of Coalmining and Iron Working, which were a huge part of everyday life in the local communities of the Swansea Valley (Welsh: Cwmtawe).
In 1838 a furnace was built by James Palmer Budd at Ystalyfera and from this grew the iron and tinplate works which by 1863 was described as 'the largest tinplate manufactory in the world'. A new cold blast process was successfully introduced here and, despite some early crises, the works prospered. By the mid-eighteen fifties there were forty furnaces for puddling and balling in operation and sixteen tin mills and houses. The output of iron increased from the 4,893 tons of 1843 to 29,828 tons in 1858. The works continued to grow during the 1860s and reached peak production in 1872 with the sale of 182,000 boxes of tinplate.
By this time, however, the years of prosperity were numbered. The Eighteen seventies witnessed little further addition to the plant of the works. Steel had now come to challenge iron on a larger scale, new methods of production demanded the energy, technical skill and capital which the ageing J. P. Budd at Ystalyfera could not supply. The works continued to operate during the eighteen seventies, but with Budd's death in 1880 the end was in sight. By this time the works were incurring heavy losses and late in 1885 the works finally closed. For more than forty years the works had been the colossus of the district and, more than anything else, had been responsible for the transformation of the latter's economic basis and social structure. Less significant in their contribution were the two ironworks, at Pontardawe and Brynamman, though both became substantial producers of tinplate from the 1860s.
The expansion in iron production inevitably created a heavy demand for local coal. The middle decades of the nineteenth century saw the expansion of existing mines and the sinking of new ones in the parish and the neighbouring districts.
With the closure of the iron works and later the coalmines, Ystalyfera suffered very heavily on the economic front. Through the 20th Century, the village rebuilt and redefined its role. At present, there are various small businesses that run in the village, though most of the village's inhabitants migrate to nearby Swansea or Neath to work.
Mon 10.00am-1.00pm 3.30pm–5.30pm
Wed 10.00am-1.00pm 2.00pm-5.00pm
Fri 10.00am-1.00pm 3.30pm-5.30pm
Sat 10.00am-12.00 noon
The Corner House
The New Swan
Old Swan Inn
58 Gurnos Road
The Wern Fawr Inn
Rugby: Ystalyfera RFC
1 Capitol Buildings