The Rhondda Valleys

..............we know the price of coal


My Rhondda Childhood

Collieries (Coal Mines)

Rhondda History

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Rhondda's Heroes

Old Photo Restoration

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Porth Cenotaph


Rhondda Valleys Information and History

The History of the Rhondda Valleys.

Before coal was mined in the area known then as Ystradyfodwg - later to become known as the Rhondda Valleys - the area was amongst the most picturesque in Wales. It was described by Charles Cliffes as having "meadows of emerald greenness", and the air as being "aromatic with the scent of wild flowers and mountain plants".

A view from Rhigos of the Brecon Beacons

How the Rhondda may have looked pre coal.

By the time the area became known as the Rhondda Valleys, the description would have dramatically changed, and few places in the Valleys had escaped the blackness from the coal dust that spread through the Rhondda rivers and covered the Rhondda mountains with coal waste.

The Rhondda Valley from Rhigos

How the Rhondda looked from the same mountain as the one above in the 1900's.


The overwhelming majority of the Rhondda Valleys households where occupied by colliers and their families, and certainly in the early days trades associated with house building, as all of the thousands of Rhondda terraced houses were new builds. The stone for these houses was quarried from the hillsides where the houses were being built, and can still be seen today - as is evident in this August 2005 photograph of Ynyshir. This quarry is at least a couple of hundred feet deep, and the same wide - I know, I played in it as a child.

Ynyshir Stone Quarry

Remains of one of the quarries where stone was mined for the local housing. Click to see full size.

The houses were very basic, with stone slab floors downstairs, no electricity, and a small toilet (Ty Bach) at the bottom of the garden. The cooking facilities at the time were a cast iron range with a coal fire centre and cast iron ovens each side. A kettle to boil water could either be suspended above the fire or rested directly on the fire. Rhondda folk would often be seen holding a piece of bread in front of the fire making toast. Lighting was by oil lamps and/or candles, until later when gas was installed and most rooms had a gas light, and the kitchen had a four ringed stove with a two tier oven. To take a bath hot water was poured into a large tin bath which had been placed near the front of the fire.

The Chapel played a big part in the lives of the early Rhondda dwellers, and most people would have attended regularly in their local village or town, which would have had a choice of several.

Many Rhondda women died during childbirth, which certainly in the early days would be in their own homes. Even if mother and baby survived childbirth, child mortality was high due to their living conditions, poor diets, and the many diseases that were prevalent in those days.

Because many were widowed either by accidents at the mines or during childbirth, lots would have been married more than once. It was essential for a man to find a new wife to care for his surviving children, and for a woman to find a new husband to provide an income - there was no national assistance in those days.

So, the background of the Rhondda Valleys was one of hard work, poverty, bereavement, and in many cases short lives.

If you have any old Rhondda family photos or pictures of the towns and villages please scan them in at least 1280 pixels width and email them here.


Search the entire site below:

Web Rhondda Website

12 Year Old Coal Miner

Then and Now Photos

Anglesey Website

Rhondda Artist - Elwyn Thomas

Rhondda Artist - Fred Stapleton


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