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Arts and crafts in Merthyr Tydfil

Merthyr Tydfil is in South Wales. It has a population of around 59,000 and covers approximately 11,000 hectares. Here is a list of nearby or neighbouring counties: Monmouthshire, Powys, Rhondda Cynon Taff.

The landlocked County Borough of Merthyr Tydfil (Merthyr Tudful in Welsh) has been largely shaped by its industrial history, though there are green spaces such as the picturesque Garwnant Visitor Centre, with its woodlands and nature trails. There is archaeological evidence of human habitation in the area dating back thousands of years, including the sites of Iron Age Celtic hill forts. The remains of roads and buildings constructed by the Romans date back to the years following their arrival in the first century AD, though through the medieval period the local landscape continued to be dominated by woodlands and small farms. The presence of sizeable iron and coal deposits, along with good water supplies led to the area becoming heavily industrialised during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Working in harsh conditions, miners supplied raw materials used in the huge furnaces and rolling mills, where workers produced iron that was used around the world, such as in the building of railway lines. People campaigned for better working conditions and reforms to improve education and democratic politics, which future generations have continued to benefit from, though the area suffered economically as heavy industry declined during the twentieth century. Abandoned sites such as Cyfarthfa Iron Works reflect the areas global significance during the Industrial Revolution and form part of the industrial heritage of Britain.

Cultural activities in Merthyr Tydfil include choirs, some of which perform around the world, poetry readings, music festivals and events showcasing the work of artists and craft makers. The largest town in the county is Merthyr Tydfil, where Canolfan Soar serves as a performing arts venue for events such as theatre and dance, as well as providing facilities for exhibitions and workshops. The Welsh language and English language are both widely used and the county has a number of heritage organisations, working to preserve and promote local culture and history. Built during the nineteenth century, using wealth from the Ironworks, Cyfarthfa Castle is now a museum and art gallery with finely decorated and furnished interiors. It houses collections including paintings by artists such as Penry Williams, Wedgwood porcelain, dresses by Welsh fashion designer Laura Ashley and exhibits reflecting local social and industrial history. Located at the southern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park, the castle is situated within Cyfarthfa Park, which has woodlands, gardens a lake and hosts a variety of events. Recent years have seen land in Merthyr Tydfil reclaimed, with projects such as Parc Taf Bargoed that replaced former coal pits with green hills, woodland, lakes and rivers which attract wildlife and people who come to enjoy a range of activities.

Frank Vining

(Born 1924 in Aberfan in Merthyr Tydfil), Pottery and ceramics

Known as an influential teacher of pottery. He produced modernist stoneware which was exhibited during 1961- 1968. His pottery is represented in the National Museum Cardiff and Aberystwyth University.