Neath and Port Talbot County, Wales - Great Britain
Neath is situated in Wales, the land of fables, myths and traditions, nestled at the bottom of a charming valley. In 1996, Neath was merged with Port Talbot to create a county borough, and today has a population of around 64,000. At the center of Neath are the Victoria Gardens, dating from the 19th Century, and St David’s Church.
The town center is well-known for its shopping opportunities, with its covered Victorian market offering pottery, antiques and books. Neath Museum, containing exhibits of archaeology and natural history, can also be found on the square near the church, all of which falls within a conservation area. The ruins of Neath castle highlight the importance of the town in the Middle Ages. Neath Abbey, situated a little distance from the center, was built by Richard de Granville in 1129 and was one of the most affluent and beautiful monasteries in Wales.
Neath was founded by the Normans in 1129, after which a community was established. The intention was to attract settlers to Neath so as to be better able to control the local Welsh tribes. In the Middle Ages, the monasteries at Neath and Margam were home to Cistercian monks. Henry VIII deconsecrated Neath Abbey in 1530. In the 19th Century, Neath underwent a period of boom thanks to iron ore and coal deposits. Today, only a few colliery buildings serve as a reminder of this period.
Education and culture
The NPTC Group (formerly Neath Port Talbot College) is the largest in Wales and is proud of its academic, cultural and sporting success.
Neath inspired artists such as Alexander Cordel and J. M. Turner to create masterpieces. With their poems, novels and paintings, they infer on the town a certain immortality. The Princess Royal Theatre, the Pontardawe Arts Center and Gwyn Hall offer a varied program of shows, concerts and dance performances right up to classical tragedies. The Pontardaw Festival, held in Neath, is the largest and oldest annual folk festival in the UK. Its origins can be traced back to the year 1280.
Economy and tourism
Neath Port Talbot has access to a deep-sea port and has excellent transport connections to London. Cardiff Airport is around a half-hour journey away. Neath’s industrial rise began in the 16th Century with copper and iron. In the 19th Century, coal mining got underway in earnest. Nowadays the mines are closed down. Metalworking and the chemical and oil industries have taken the place of coal mining and become the town’s most important economic sectors. Britain’s first oil refinery, Llandarcy Urban Village, was founded in Neath Port Talbot in 1920. BP and Mobil are among the organisations established in the town, as are the Japanese firms Honda, Nissan and Toyota. GE Energy’s Baglan Bay power station brings economic benefits to the entire region. It supports a global showcase project for the most advanced technology in combined-cycle gas turbines.
The area around Neath features rivers, waterfalls and walking routes, offering numerous different leisure activities and is a huge attraction for mountain bikers. The Aberdulais Waterfall is one of the area’s most popular excursion destinations.