1902 Encyclopedia > Glamorgan

Glamorgan, South Wales




GLAMORGAN (Welsh, Gtalad Morgan), a maritime county of South Wales, bounded on the N. by Breck-nock and Carmarthen, on the W. by Carmarthen and its bay, on the S. by the Bristol Channel, and on the E. by Monmouth, the boundary line of which is the Rhymney. Its greatest length from E. to W. is about 53 miles, its greatest breadth from N. to S. about 29; its coast-line is about 60 miles, and its area 547,070 acres.

Glamorgan, with the exception of some flat tracts on the bord ers of the Bristol Channel, consists of a succession of hills and valleys, the country inland growing more and more mountainous, after abroad tract of plain on the south coast, until on the borders of Brecknock its surface is a sea of hills. None of the mountains rise to a great height, the most lofty, Mynydd Llangeinor, being but 1859 feet, and the escarpment of Craig y Llyn about the same height or a little higher. Yet their bold forms add grandeur to the scenery of the county, and their lower slopes are clothed with picturesque though not large timber.

The valleys of Glamorgan have been long famous for great beauty of scenery. The vale of Glamorgan, some 8 miles in breadth, has been truly called the " Garden of Wales," and its climate is so mild that myrtles and other tender plants flourish in the open air. The vale of Neath is known to tourists as the waterfall district of South Wales, the finest falls being betwixt Hirwain and Neath, near the Vale of Neath Railway, viz. Cilhepste fall, the three Clwngwyns, the falls of the Pyrddin, Scwd-Einon Gam, Scwd-Gladys, and Scwd Hen Rhydd on the Llech, with Melincourt and Abergarwedd still nearer Neath. The highest of these falls are above 80 feet. Swansea valley has also fine scenery. Other valleys are those of the Rhymney, the Taff, the Rhondda, and the Llwchwr, the first two giving their names to important railways.

The rivers of Glamorgan are not large. The chief are the Rhymney, forming the county's eastern boundary; the Ogwr or Ogmore, which flows into the Bristol Channel near Porth-Cawl harbour; the Taff, which rises in the Brecon Beacon, flows southward through the county, and forms the important harbour of Cardiff; the Neath and Tawe, flowing south into Swansea Bay; and the Llwchwr, which is the boundary of the county on the west, and, falling into Car marthen Bay, forms the estuary of the Burry river.

The chief geological feature of Glamorgan is the Coal-measures, which are of the greatest thickness near Neath, but extend nearly over the whole county, and are bounded by a narrow band of Millstone Grit and Mountain Lime-stone, nearly coincident with the county boundary on the north. In the extreme south and south-west the Devonian, Magnesian Limestone, and the Lias show themselves.

The climate is mild, and the plains on the coast as well as inland are very fertile. The soil is a deep rich loam, improved by lime. Agriculture is as yet not so forward as it might be with such a soil and climate; but the farms are seldom large, and the buildings are not suited to high farm-ing. The crops chiefly raised are wheat, beans, pease oats, barley, vetches, turnips, and potatoes. The cattle are of good useful breeds; and good sheep and ponies are reared in the hill-country. According to the agricultural statistics for 1878, the extent under the different crops (the total area being 547,070 acres), and the numbers of live-stock, were as follows :—

Corn crops (two-thirds wheat and oats, and nearly
one-third barley). .. 37,139 acres
Green crops (two-thirds turnips and swedes) 15,054 ,,
Grass under rotation 26,468 ,,
Permanent pasture 186,697 ,,
Bare, fallow, and uncropped arable land, 33,359 ,,
Total under crops, bare fallow, and grass 268,707 ,,
Live Stock:—Horses, including ponies 13,727
Cattle 46,545
Sheep 283,389
Pigs 15 572

According to the Owners and Heritages Return 1872-73, the county was divided among 8426 proprietors, holding 428,386 acres, with a gross estimated annual rental of £1,609,379. The estimated amount of commons and waste lands was 47,018 acres. Of the owners, 78'8 per cent, possessed less than one acre, and the average value per acre was ¿£3, Is. 8|d. There were 16 proprie-tors owning 5000 acres and upwards, viz., C. R. M. Talbot 33,920; Earl cf Dunraven, 23,706; Marquis of Bute, 21,402; Lord Windsor, 12,016; Earl of Jersey, 7110; Edward Rees Wingfield, 6463; Lord Tredegar, 6157; Major Vaughan Lee, 6128: Mrs Blandy Jenkins, 6082 ; Col. K. Tynte, 5933 ; Sir 'ivor B. Guest, 5640; T. Penrice, 5411 ; Mrs Chetwode, 5399; R. F. L. Jenner, 5381 ; C. Bailey, 5343; John D. Llewellyn, 5000.





The industry of Glamorgan is chiefly applied to its coal and iron mines, which practically underlie the whole superficies of the county, and give it its pre-eminence among Welsh counties. In 1872 there were no less than 420 coalpits iu Monmouthshire and South Wales, and the yield of some 15 million tons a year came in very large proportion from the Glamorganshire vales of Neath, Taff, Rhondda, Ely, Ac. Within the last twenty years the iron works were carried on at an enormous scale of labour and enterprise, there being near Merthyr-Tydvil alone upwards of 60 blast furnaces ; but in 1873 it appeared that of 57 furnaces in Glamorganshire 27 were out of blast, and at present (1879) the industry is, from various causes, in a backward state. Excellent means of export for coal and iron are afforded by the unrivalled docks at Cardiff, the enterprise of the late and present marquis of Bute, and by those also at Penarth at the mouth of the Ely. These have within con-siderably less than a century transformed an insignificant Welsh town into a leading port and emporium with a first rate harbour and anchorage ; whilst another dock at Swan-sea serves a like purpose for the export of the copper ore smelted at Swansea, Neath, Aberavon, and Treforest, and chiefly sold at public ticketings in the first-named town. Cardiff and Swansea, especially the latter, also have a very large export trade in patent compressed fuel prepared from culm and tar.

Glamorgan can boast historic ruins, such as Caerphilly, and Castle Coch near Llandaff, the former a Norman for-tress held for Edward II. by the younger De Spencer, the latter an early English fortress on an escarpment of moun-tain limestone. Other ruined castles are Oystermouth and Pennard in Gower, and Coity near Bridgend; while as restored castles, resided in by their present owners, are Cardiff, the residence of the marquis of Bute, St Fagan's, near Ely station, and St Donat's and Dunraven, both on the verge of the Bristol Channel. The county has some fine cromlechs at St Nicholas and St Lythan's on the Dyffrin estate, at Cotterell near Peterston, and at Arthur's Stone in Gower. The Sarn Helen, an ancient road, traverses the county. At Llantwit Major, near Cowbridge, was the once famous divinity school founded by St Germanus, and pre-sided over for an incredible term of years by St Iltyd. Every stone in this old-world town is " of old memorial." Coity, Coychurch, and Ewenny, near Bridgend, present a fine trio of cross churches, with fortified or embattled towers, characteristic of the county.

South of Swansea lies the promontory of Gower, famed for the beauty of its coast scenery, its people of Flemish descent, planted here by Henry I., and its bone-caves. The last, in the limestone cliffs, accessible only at low water, are at Bacon Hole, Paviland, and Rhosilly Bay.
Besides its ports, Glamorgan has abundant means of transit in four railways and a canal, beside numerous tramways. It contains 128 parishes and 10 hundreds, and is in the dioceses of Llandaff and St David's. Llandaff cathedral, 2 miles from the county town of Cardiff, having fallen into decay through the neglect of ages previous to 1844, owed its restoration to a beauty befitting the prestige of the earliest Christian see to the energetic endeavours of Dean Thomas Williams. It was completed in 1869.

The great changes of recent years in elementary education have curiously affected the statistics of schools in Glamorgan. Whereas in 1847 there were 327 day schools in all, with 15,674 scholars, in 1877 the parliamentary return shows a great reduction in the number of schools, though these have probably a much larger aggregate of scholars. This return exhibits 226 public elementary schools in Glamor-gan, of which 56 were board-schools, 30 British and foreign, 12 Roman Catholic, 1 Wesleyan, and the remainder national, parochial, and Church of England schools. Of these schools, 41 had each in average attendance upwards of 300 scholars, and 2 had upwards of 1000. Fourteen only had night schools in operation. As in other south-west counties, the Welsh language is losing ground, except in remote agricultural districts.

Llantrisaint2 2,039
Lloughor1 1,220
Merthyr Tydvil 51,949
Neath1 9,319
Swansea1 51,702

In 1851 the population of the county was 231,849, 120,748 males and 111,101 females; and in 1871 it was 397,859, 205,660 males and 192,199 females. The population has increased since the first census in 1801 by 326,980 persons, or 451 per cent. The county returns two members to parliament, the borough of Merthyr two, and the Cardiff and Swansea districts of boroughs one each, a total of xis in all. In the year ending April 1871 the amount of real property assessed to income and pro-perty tax was £1,219,922. The principal towns with the populations in 1871 were—

Aberavon 3,574
Aberdare 36,112
Bridgend 3,539
Cardiff 39,536
Cowbridge 1,134
Kenfig 591

The bibliography of the county is stronger in such old chronicles as the Brut y Tywysogion than in modern researches. Among its important contributions to the Archcealogia Cambrcnsis may be mentioned the Rev. H. H. Knight's Account of Newton Noitage in 1853 ; and Dr Thomas Nicholas's History of the Annals and Antiquities of Glamorganshire is the foundation of his Counties and County Families of Wales. (J. DA.)







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