Once described as the 'Wild West', Pontypridd has had a turbulent past. A small, dirty, market town, run down after years of under funding and mismanagement by the local and regional councils, situated 12 miles north of Cardiff along the A470, 'Ponty' is the gateway to the famous south Wales valleys and has a rich cultural and historic past: The Welsh National Anthem, Tom Jones, the Old Bridge, Brown Lennox, Sir Geraint Evans, Neil Jenkins, William Price and Stuart Burrows all hail from Ponty or close by.
The name may come from a contraction of Pont-y-ty-pridd, bridge of the earthen house in Welsh, or the Welsh for 'bridge of earth', since in earlier centuries, people took advantage of the shallowness of the River Taff here to cross it. Pontypridd marks the confluence of the rivers Taff and Rhondda and at the junction of the Cardiff to Rhondda and Merthyr railway lines and thus has a fascinating historical and cultural background. The development of Treforest and Pontypridd as commercial centres began with the opening in 1795 of the 25 mile long Glamorganshire canal, between Cardiff docks and Merthyr. At the same time, William Crawshay opened a new forge and nail works and coal was discovered by Dr. Richard Griffiths in Gyfeillion in 1790.
Another new industry which thrived with the excellent transport now available was the original Newbridge Chain Cable and Anchor Works founded in 1818 - later to become Brown Lenox. Later, collieries were opened in the areas of Graig, Hopkinstown, Trehafod and Cilfynydd. Treforest, with Francis Crawshay's tin works and Roland Fothergill's railworks became important. Francis Crawshay lived in Forest House now part of the site of the new University of Glamorgan and Roland Fothergill in Hensol Castle.
Rhydyfelin and Upper Boat both grew because of the connection with the canal. Evan James and his son James James lived in Ty'r Factory, next to their cloth factory - and they composed the words and music of the Welsh National Anthem 'Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau'. A commemorative plaque marks the site of the factory and statues, representing Poetry and Music designed by the architect Sir Goscombe John were unveiled in 1930 in Ynysangharad Park.
Mill Street derived its name from various mills in the vicinity, such as the Rhondda Flour Mill. An important landmark in Mill Street is the stone railway viaduct, the work of Isambard Kingdom Brunel for the Taff Vale Railway. Nearby St. Catherine's Church with its fine spire was built in 1868, the Town Hall and Market Buildings in 1885, the Public Library and the Town Hall Theatre in 1890, and in 1905 the Municipal Building with its fine Council Chamber.
In the middle of town is a charming Victorian Fountain erected in 1895 for Sir Alfred Thomas MP, who later became Lord Pontypridd. Many of the old buildings in Pontypridd are decorated with fine stonework and constructed mainly from locally quarried stone. One quarry - the Graig Yr Hesg Quarry - still produces the distinctive blue pennant stone, which, with its granite-like hardness, will ensure that many of our best buildings will survive for many years to come as long as the developers don't decide to pull them down to replace with bland new builds.
'Ponty' as it's known to the locals, is famous for its old bridge, which was, when built, the longest single spanning bridge in the world. The bridge, built in 1750 by William Edwards (a self taught mason) was so long (45m / 140 feet span) that it took three attempts to get it right. The first, a wooden bridge was washed away by floods, the second, of stone, collapsed during construction because of its weight. The third design was also stone, but much lighter because it had 6 large holes in it... 3 on each side, of diameter 9, 6 and 3 feet. Edwards was paid 50 pounds to maintain it for seven years. In 1857, a three-arch bridge was built alongside to make it easier for traffic to cross the river (the old bridge was a bit too steep).
A market has stood on the site of the present Market since 1805. The present Market was built in the late 1870's following the incorporation of the Pontypridd Markets Company. In spite of the savage economic decline experienced by Pontypridd and the Valleys in the 1920's and 1930's, the Market has survived in very much its original format. The Market Company still owns many of the properties in town. Since 1985, the Market has undergone considerable change. The Lesser Town Hall (now known as the Clothes Market) was refurbished and opened as a Market Hall in 1988, and the Outdoor Market was extended in 1988 onto a site adjoining Church Street and St. Catherine's Street.
One of the town's treasures lies to the east side of the River Taff - Ynysangharad Park. It was opened in 1923 as a War Memorial for the town, and purchased by public subscription. It is an area of extensive and beautiful parkland with avenues of mature trees and colourful flower gardens as well as many amenities, although Pontypridd still doesn’t have an indoor swimming pool, incredible when you think that Pontypridd is supposed to be the 'county town' and has the largest population in RCT. There are other attractions though: miniature golf, tennis courts, a children's play area, bowling greens, a band stand and an open air paddling pool. Local bands play on a Sunday at the bandstand.
Pontypridd Common from which there are fine views over the town is a natural open space on which can be seen many glacial boulders remaining from the Ice Age. One boulder, known as the Rocking Stone, is the central point for the Druid's Circle of smaller stones which was constructed in the 19th Century by Dr. William Price (the famous pioneer of cremation) and other like minded men who performed druidic rites there.
Famous Welsh poet and forger Iolo Morgannwg created the vision of a
Celtic Druidic order in the 18th century. His first meeting of the
bards was on Primrose Hill in London, where he had erected twelve
stones called the Great Circle in 1792. Iolo constructed an
'elaborate mystical philosophy' which he claimed represented a
direct continuation of ancient Druidic practice.
In 1795, a gorsedd meeting took place at the Pontypridd Rocking Stone. This was a huge slab of natural slate stone (the Maen Chwyf), and this stone became a meeting place, though the circles were put up later.
The word gorsedd, which in Welsh means throne, but is also loosely used as a coming together of bards. Julian Cope in his book The Modern Antiquarian says of this rocking stone ‘that it stands high on the ground overlooking the confluence of the two great sacred rivers Rhodda and Taff,’ and that this gorsedd stone must have had great significance in prehistoric times. The stone is surrounded by two circles plus an avenue.
Above the Common, towards Glyntaff, are the white washed Round Houses erected by Dr. Price who, with his colourful dress, long hair and cap of a whole fox's skin, was one of the great characters of Pontypridd (indeed his ghost still walks around the Common to this day!) He is best remembered for cremating the body of his 5 month old son in 1884. He was brought to trial at the Glamorgan Assizes, and the case established the legality of cremation.
Situated centrally near the Old Bridge, the Pontypridd Museum offers the visitor a comprehensive glimpse into the historical and cultural past of the area. The Museum is housed in the former Tabernacl Chapel built in 1861 and magnificently refurbished in 1910. Since ceasing as a place of worship in 1983 and being taken over by the Town Council, the building has been restored. The ceiling, pulpit and organ are wonderful examples of the best chapel interiors. The Museum is open Mondays to Saturdays 10am - 5pm and further information is available from the Curator, Pontypridd Museum, 133 Berw Road, Pontypridd. Tel. Pontypridd (44) (0)1443 402077.
Within 3-4 miles of the town there used to be half a dozen or so coal mines, all of which have since closed. Coal used to pass through Ponty en-route to Cardiff; initially by road, then by canal, then by rail. Sadly, you're more likely to see coal being transported up the valleys instead of down. The Glamorganshire canal has long since vanished, with only a few lock gates visible along a section of the Taff Trail.
Pontypridd has produced many fine singers, although none are really from the town itself - Tom 'The Voice' Jones is from Treforest while Sir Geraint Evans and Stuart Burrows are both from Cilfynydd.
Pontypridd RFC have always been one of Wales' top teams. Of special interest to rugby fans, Ponty is home to the internationally known Grogg Shop, owned by John Hughes. The man who has made a fortune out of selling lumps of clay!
Gwyn Thomas speaks about Pontypridd (1960's) - click here.
What is Ponty like today and what are we going to leave for our children? As we approach 2014 things are certainly very different to Victorian Pontypridd. The traffic situation in Pontypridd is still diabolical. Millions of pounds of tax-payers money have been wasted on a new road system that has only made matters worse! A slip road to Glyntaf, Treforest, Rhydyfelin and Hawthorn has been closed but no-one knows why? Although a new short-cut cycle route now exists on the northbound section which is useful in avoiding Yummy Kitchen, drunken students and the 'rickety bridge'.
They've also spent loads of money on a new road system at Glyntaf which is dangerous to cars and cyclists due to the narrowing of the road and non-existent / downright dangerous 'cycle' lanes. Madness on a bigger scale is seen at the new roundabout on the A470 which has been built at the southern end of town which provides no access to the Merthyr or Cynon Valleys. Numerous sets of traffic lights all over town have made traffic jams longer, especially at rush hour, although it must be said those on the old roundabout have eased traffic outside busy times.
Taff Street still has some kind of limited pedestrianisation, although this doesn't seem to apply to taxis, delivery lorries and buses (all of whom can run you over and kill you). Millions of pounds have now been wasted on new pavements which damaged businesses at the most difficult time in the UK since Thatcher. The town does look better for it although the challenge now is to decide where the road ends and pavement begins.
Forcing property developers to sell off their empty units to encourage inward investment by local people might be one way to revitalise the town, but seeing as the major property owner is 'chummy' with the leaders of the council and local politicians then this seems unlikely unless there is a buck in it for them all.
The new development at St. Catherine's corner is ugly and higher than originally thought, has caused more traffic chaos (another excuse for traffic lights I guess) on Gelliwastad Road (which still doesn't have its trees back on it) and amazingly in this day and age doesn't have solar panels to produce power for the council office workers (the sole inhabitants) during the day. The car park is always empty as they charge too much.
The eyesore precinct has been partly demolished and the rubble boarded up so we can still remember it. A new phoenix rising from the ashes has been delayed for a few hundred years but will no doubt turn into 'Precinct II - the return of Beirut' when someone gets round to Mary Portas' ing it. I wonder if this new development will have solar panels on it? Will they ever replace the Everest? Will the new pub/bar be better than what was there before? Time will tell I guess.
The old Brown Lenox site has been turned into a giant Sainsburys, which has taken masses of trade away from Tesco at Upper Boat and the town centre. And yes, you guessed it, no solar panels there either, nor have they cleaned up the canal.
There are some positive things happening in and around Ponty (mostly individuals doing their own thing) but unfortunately the lack of basic amenities, like a swimming pool and sports centre will always take the edge off them. The new proposed environmentally 'unfriendly' outdoor pool is a joke and the impeding destruction of the children's paddling pool a cause for yet more applications for mortgages in other towns.
It's good that the Taff Trail runs through Ponty but there are no proper, safe cycle lanes on our roads and no secure lock up for bikes anywhere in town!
After a number of deaths and numerous serious accidents we finally have new crossings on both sides of the A470 slip roads. Shame it had to come to that when the people had been crying out for them for many years. But then again, maybe valley folk's lives are cheap?
Ponty's train station was once able to claim to have the longest station platform in the world. Now, unfortunately the only award it would win is the dirtiest platform in the world but thankfully millions are being spent at last by Arriva Trains, so fingers crossed there...
Situated at the confluence of the rivers Taff and Rhondda, Pontypridd was the business and administrative centre of the Taff Ely Borough, and thus has become the largest town in RCT with a population of 33,500, however neglect first from Labour run Taff Ely and RCT, then Plaid Cymru run RCT and now further neglect from Labour run RCT have resulted in Pontypridd becoming run-down and backward. An obvious move might be to re-locate the council offices (the major employer in RCT) to Pontypridd thus kick-starting the local economy, hopefully the new developments will go some way towards doing this.
Pontypridd should be south Wales' fourth city but 20 years of Tory government, mismanagement by local councils coupled with lack of investment, greed by property owners and lack of vision has all led to its downfall.
What will happen to the neglected 'Taff Walk' I wonder when the builders and diggers are gone? This should be such a pleasant area but now only attracts cider drinking schoolchildren, drug addicts and graffiti artists. The CCTV camera that was there has also vanished, but no-one knows why it hasn't been replaced or repaired. Police are rarely seen in the Park or town (probably because they're under-staffed or busy filling in pointless paperwork) and crime seems to be on the increase especially on weekends as a result of under-age (and within-age) binge drinking.
The beautiful River Taff which flows through the town has recovered from over a century of coal mine pollution and quite large fish (trout and salmon) are now caught in the Taff. Sightings of otters are also on the increase although we suspect that most of these will have been mink. Having said this pollution from household rubbish and plastic carrier bags are still a problem.
Along the riverbank is one of the success stories of modern Pontypridd and that is the Taff Trail. From Brecon to Cardiff an excellent cycle route offers an escape from the pollution and social deprivation that is so common in many South Wales' valley towns. The trail has just recently been altered to run through the Park which is good move and there is also a new section from Cilfynydd to Abercycnon. More money is also being spent on further cycle routes which is excellent, although a few decades too late.
It's easy to criticise of course but the people of Ponty have offered solutions to the town's problems. In fact, we have continually campaigned for 15 years, but nothing much has changed. RCT even removed the link to our web site from their site, thus decreasing hits to their own site (the silly boys!).
Pontypridd does command a stunning location, with mountains, trails, the river and Park. The secret to future success must be to incorporate these plus's into any development undertaken and time will tell whether money grabbing developers or the wishes of the people will win through. After all, we have to live here after they have squandered the EU money, made their profit and moved on.
What the future holds for our children is unclear. Most will probably leave the town to find a better life elsewhere and leave the inertia that governs us behind. There's a famous saying though which is particularly erudite:
'You get what you settle for'. Over to you - the people - to try and change things then...
Daniel Hayman's modern take on the town - click here.
The year 2006 brought us two very special dates. The 150 year celebration of the writing of the Welsh National Anthem and the 250 year celebration of the Old Bridge. To mark these historic events we at Pontypridd Town web site were ready, willing and able to keep you informed of all the hundreds of special events promised by RCT to mark the occasion, but there wasn't much happening so we couldn't :( Ah well maybe 2056 will be better?! Anyway, try this instead:
Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau
Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau
Mae hen wlad fy nhadau yn annwyl i mi,
Gwlad beirdd a chantorion, enwogion o fri;
Ei gwrol ryfelwyr, gwladgarwyr tra mad,
Tros ryddid collasant eu gwaed.
Gwlad, gwlad, pleidiol wyf i'm gwlad.
Tra môr yn fur i'r bur hoff bau,
O bydded i'r hen iaith barhau.
Hen Gymru fynyddig, paradwys y bardd,
Pob dyffryn, pob clogwyn i'm golwg sydd hardd;
Trwy deimlad gwladgarol, mor swynol yw si
Ei nentydd, afonydd, i mi.
Os treisiodd y gelyn fy ngwlad tan ei droed,
Mae hen iaith y Cymry mor fyw ag erioed.
Ni luddiwyd yr awen gan erchyll law brad,
Na thelyn berseiniol fy ngwlad.
Land Of My Fathers*
The old land of my fathers is dear to me,
Land of poets and singers, famous men of renown;
Her brave warriors, very splendid patriots,
For freedom shed their blood.
Nation, Nation, I am partial to my Nation.
While the sea is a wall to the pure, most loved region,
O may the old language endure.
Old mountainous Wales, paradise of the bard,
Every valley, every cliff, to me is beautiful.
Through patriotic feeling, so charming is the murmur
Of her brooks, rivers, to me.
If the enemy oppresses my land under his foot,
The old language of the Welsh is as alive as ever.
The muse is not hindered by the hideous hand of treason,
Nor is the melodious harp of my country.
My hen w(oo)lad vern-had-eye un an-oil ee me
Gw(oo)lad by-earth a-kan-torion en wog-ee-on o vree
Eye goor-ol ruv-el-weer
G w(oo)lad gar-weer tra mahd
Tros ruthhed gollass-ant eye gw(oo)-eyed.
Ply-dee-ol oiv-eem Gw(oo)lad.
Tra more un veer
Ear beer hof bye,
O buth-ed ear hen-ee-eyeth bar-how
Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, usually translated as The Land of My Fathers, but literally old country of my fathers, is by tradition the national anthem of Wales. The words were written by Evan James and the tune composed by his son, James James, both residents of Pontypridd, Glamorgan, in January 1856. The earliest written copy survives and is part of the collections of the National Library of Wales. The song, or Glan Rhondda (The banks of Rhondda river) as it was known when first composed, was performed for the first time in the Capel Tabor chapel, Maesteg, on 1st March 1856, by a singer called Elizabeth John from Pontypridd, and it soon became popular in the locality.
The popularity of the song increased after the Llangollen Eisteddfod of 1858. Thomas Llewelyn of Aberdare won a competition for an unpublished collection of Welsh airs with a collection that included Glan Rhondda. The adjudicator of the competition, Owain Alaw (John Owen, 1821-1883) asked for permission to include Glan Rhondda in his publication, Gems of Welsh melody (1860-64). This volume gave Glan Rhondda its more famous title, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, and was sold in large quantities and ensured the popularity of the national anthem across the whole of Wales.
At the Bangor Eisteddfod of 1874 Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau gained further popularity when it was sung by Robert Rees (Eos Morlais), one of the leading Welsh soloists of his day. It was increasingly sung at patriotic gatherings and gradually it developed into a national anthem.
Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau was also one of the first Welsh songs recorded when Madge Breese sang it on 11 March 1899, for the Gramophone Company. This was the first recording in the Welsh language.
Though it has no official or legal status, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau is recognised and used as an anthem at both national and local events in Wales. Usually this will be the only anthem sung, such as at national sporting events, and it will be sung only in Welsh using the first stanza and refrain.
The existence of a separate national anthem for Wales has not always been apparent to those from outside the Principality. In 1993 the newly-appointed Secretary of State for Wales John Redwood was embarrassingly videotaped trying to guess the words during a communal singing of the national anthem, clearly unaware of them; the pictures were frequently cited as evidence of his unsuitability for the post.
A commemorative plaque and statue representing poetry and music designed by the architect Sir Goscombe John was unveiled in 1930 in Ynysangharad Park.
Versions of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau are used as anthems in both Cornwall, as Bro Goth Agan Tasow, and Brittany, as Bro Goz ma Zadoù. There also seems to be a version sang in India. The Khasi people in North East India have adopted our anthem as their own - Ri Khasi is sung to the same tune, this goes back to the 1800's when Welsh medical missionaries went to the area.
Pontypridd is famous for its old bridge, which was, when built, the longest single spanning bridge in Europe. The bridge was built by William Edwards (1719-1789). He was a Welsh Methodist minister who also practised as an architect and bridge engineer. Ponty's Old Bridge was his most famous creation, built between 1746 and 1754 it was so long (45m / 140 feet span) that it took three/four attempts to get it right.
The first, a wooden bridge was washed away by floods, the second and third, of stone, collapsed during construction because of their weight. The final design, in 1756 was also stone, but much lighter because it had 6 large holes in it... 3 on each side, of diameter 9, 6 and 3 feet. Edwards was paid 50 pounds to maintain it for seven years.
He also built bridges in Aberafan, Betws, Pontardawe and Usk. In 1857, a three-arch bridge was built alongside to make it easier for traffic to cross the river (the old bridge was a bit too steep).
Ponty Zen - 'Bridges Apart'
We all know Ponty has many heroes but in 2004 the web site 100 Welsh Heroes did an online poll to find the greatest Welsh men and women. With only 80,000 nominations and votes it could hardly be called truly representative but as a bit of fun it was great. Although the great Alfred Russel Wallace amazingly didn't win, among those listed were a few famous Ponty people. Although why Mark Davies wasn't in there we'll never know? Here's a bit of a round-up from Ponty and the valleys... but feel free to tell us if we've missed anyone out.
Ponty, Wales & Lions hero - what a guy! One of the true giants of Welsh rugby, Neil Jenkins became the international scene's record points scorer despite playing during Wales's wilderness years. Affectionately labelled GM (for Ginger Monster, Maestro or Magician), he is Wales's record points scorer and is third in the world for points scored in internationals, with 1,049 points for Wales and a further 41 in four tests for the British Lions. And let's not forget Andrew (brother-in-law) complete with ginger wig and plastic ears, kicking an inflatable sheep over the crossbar - how famous can you get?!
Sir Tom Jones
In 1964 the BBC declared that he was 'too hot to handle' and banned him from the airwaves but that soon changed when he released 'It’s Not Unusual' and the song became an international hit. Estimated to be worth in excess of £150 million Tom says he loves his hometown but has never given anything back to it.
He has worked with Gary Numan, Tom Jones, Olivia Newton-John (as co-members of the band Tomorrow), and Uriah Heep. He was a member of Manfred Mann's Earth Band from 1972 to 1978. In the early 1980s, Slade played with Paul Rodgers and Jimmy Page in The Firm. He has played with Pink Floyd's David Gilmour. Slade probably received his highest exposure in 1989 when he was asked to join the Australian hard rock group AC/DC after their then-drummer Simon Wright had departed. The Young brothers (Angus and Malcolm) initially hired Slade only temporarily, then asked him during the recording of the only album he made with them, to join the band. Slade played on the 1990 Razor's Edge album and accompanying world tour and the 'Big Gun' single released in 1993. The Young brothers, however, asked Slade to leave after four years with the group and reinstated former drummer Phil Rudd, saying that Rudd had demonstrated a 'groove' more fitting their style of rock. After his departure, Slade spent a few years living in the UK countryside before receiving a call from Geoff Downes from the British progressive rock group Asia. Slade was with Asia for six years before departing in September 2005.
In the world of contemporary music, and specifically the sub-genre of 'heavy metal', Phil Campbell is the perfect hero – a virtuoso of the lead guitar. The Treforest-born Motorhead guitarist needs little introduction and made the 'Heroes' list at No 20.
Radical writer and filmmaker who has documented the post-industrial south Wales Valleys. Books include: How Real is My Valley, Industria, G.B.H., Giants, The Acid Real and The Red Kite in Wales. John recently set up the charity 'Save the Badger' to campaign against badger culling in Wales. He also teaches creative writing locally and is a regular judge of the Welsh Poetry Competition.
Sir Geraint Evans
Cilfynydd born opera star. Sir Geraint was a bass-baritone and became the world's most foremost interpreter of Verdi's fat knight, Sir John Falstaff. He was also the proud recipient of the title Commander of the British Empire.
Stuart Burrows OBE
We have to say that we find it absolutely crazy that the Cilfynydd born singer and one of the greatest tenors that ever lived wasn't included in the WH list. Here's a link for you to learn more:
Dr William Price
OK, so he was from Rudry but it's close enough. Anyway he spent a lot of his time on Ponty Common hanging around by the Rocking Stones and when he wasn't burning his dead son (Jesus Christ) he used to walk around in the nude and eat berries - we want him back!
Simon Weston OBE
Nelson boy made good. In 1978 he joined the Welsh Guards and before forming part of the Falklands Task Force, saw active service in Berlin, Northern Ireland and Kenya. In 1982, Simon was aboard the Sir Galahad when it was bombed by Argentine planes. The burns he suffered on that day have required a series of operations, which continue to this day. Despite these injuries and the physical and mental suffering they have caused, Simon's life is an example of great personal triumph and courage.
Another famous Cil boy was Merlyn Rees who was a Labour MP from
1963-1992. He also became a life peer and entered the House of
Lords. He was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from March
1974 until September 1976, when he moved back to London to
become Home Secretary. Rees wrote of his views on Northern
Ireland in: Northern Ireland: a personal perspective (Methuen,
London, 1985). He was also president of the Video Standards
Council and Chancellor of the University of Glamorgan. His name is also cockney rhyming slang for
Born on March 5, 1886 in Pontypridd he was nicknamed the 'Welsh Wizard' (an epithet shared by his contemporary, David Lloyd George). The son of a successful businessman, Freddie suffered frequent illnesses as a child and was sent to California for his health. Here he took up boxing as a result of a suggestion from his physical fitness instructor. He became so good at the sport that he decided to make a living out of it and he turned professional in 1905. He took the name Freddie Welsh to prevent his mother from learning of his new career. The surname 'Welsh' taken as a honour to his nationality. In 1914, Welsh won the World Lightweight title in London.
During the first world war Freddie served as a lieutenant and
helped disabled veterans at the Walter Reed Hospital. He was
discharged a captain and returned to the ring in December, 1920.
He retired from boxing after a defeat by Archie Walker in 1922,
but retired as a wealthy man. He bought a health farm and a
gymnasium but fell on hard times and died penniless in New York.
During his career he won 120 fights, lost 27, drew 16 and
achieved 30 knockouts. Freddie Welsh was inducted into the
'Boxing Hall of Fame' in 1960 and the 'International Boxing Hall
of Fame' in 1997.
Sgt. Robert Bye, V.C.
Robert James Bye was born on December 12, 1889 at 13 Maritime Street, Graig, Pontypridd, Wales. His parents Martin and Sarah Jane Bye then moved to 21 Woodfield Street, Penrhiwceiber, and Robert was educated at the local school there. After leaving school he worked at The Deep Dyffryn Colliery, Mountain Ash, before joining the Welsh Guards on April 3, 1915. Advancement through the ranks was rapid when he was promoted to Lance-Corporal in March 1916, Corporal in September of that year and then to Sergeant in April 1917. He served in France and Flanders and was discharged in February 1919. Six months later he re-enlisted in the Notts and Derby Regiment, remaining with it until 1925, and finally re-enlisting again in the Sherwood Foresters in World War Two. After the war he worked at Warsop Main, Firbeck and Welbeck Collieries in the Nottingham coalfield and also became a temporary police constable at Mansfield, Notts. He married a Welsh girl from Penrhiwceiber, Mabel Lloyd, at Pontypridd on October 14, 1912 and they had two sons and two daughters. He died in 1962, aged 72 and is buried at Warsop Cemetery, Nottingham.
Sgt. Bye won his VC on 31 July 1917 at the Yser Canal, Belgium,
where he displayed the utmost courage and devotion to duty
during an attack on the enemy’s position. During the attack, at
the third Battle of Ypres, Sgt. Bye saw that the leading waves
were being troubled by two enemy blockhouses. He rushed at one
of them and put the German garrison out of action. He then
rejoined his company and went forward to the second objective.
Later he volunteered to take charge of a party detailed to clear
up a line of blockhouses which had been passed. He accomplished
this, taking many prisoners, and then advanced to the third
objective, again taking a number of prisoners. During the action
he accounted for over 70 of the enemy. His actions in Woods 15
and 16 and at the Yser Canal on the same day were also taken
into account. Sgt. Bye’s citation appeared in the London Gazette
on September 6, 1917 and he was invested with his VC by King
George V on September 27, 1917.
Known as the 'Pontypridd Puncher', the former miner, who lived from 1900-63, is known to have fought 203 times, winning 127 (69 by knock-out), losing 54 and drawing 15. The record includes 52 bouts in North America (32 wins, nine draws), with victories over Hall-of-Famers Lou Bogash and Kid Norfolk and a showdown with middleweight king Harry Greb. Moody was the most successful of seven fighting brothers from Pontypridd and started working in the collieries at the age of 11. His first known boxing match was at the age of 13 and he learnt his trade with fights throughout England and Wales.
James Edward Spickett was born in Pontypridd in 1859 and was the
eldest of two sons born to Edward Colnett Spickett who moved to the
district of Ystradfodwg in the early 1860s, where he became the
first Registrar of Pontypridd, a post that James Spickett inherited
on his fathers death in 1899. James left school and worked for his
fathers firm, Spickett & Co Solicitors in Courthouse Street. It was
at this time that he decided to form a 'football' team, and arranged
an inaugural meeting of this team around 1878 at The Butchers Arms
Hotel in the middle of town, and at the age of seventeen became the
first captain of a club named after the town 'Pontypridd'. Today,
that first Pontypridd RFC team would probably pass as a youth or
schoolboys team, as its players were only 16 or 17 years of age.
James’s playing career was not long, however he and his brother did
appear for the South Wales Football Club in representative matches,
an early runner of provincial rugby!
Mr. Tom Edward (Teddy) Lewis, grew up to be the 'Mr. Sportsman' of the town and was influential in the Pontypridd Rugby Club, either as an advisor or an officer, and was president of the club in seasons 1911-12, 12-13, 13-14, and patron 1919-20 & 20-21. Teddy was also Vice-president of the Welsh Rugby Union for ten years. He held the position of secretary of the Glamorgan Rugby League for twenty years, and was president of the Pontypridd Cricket Club. Teddy Lewis also held vice-presidencies of the Pontypridd Swimming Club, Pontypridd Kennel Club, and the Welsh Amateur Boxing Association, and was a generous supporter of the Glamorgan County Cricket Club. When Taff Vale Park came up for sale in 1900, Teddy became the secretary of the Athletic Syndicate that bought the Taff Vale part from James Roberts. However, it is in connection with the Welsh Powderhall Sprint that everyone, even today, remember his name with affection. It was he who probably suggested a Welsh Powderhall Sprint, and he fired the starting pistol at every Powderhall for the 27 years of its promotion. He was the official starter for the South Wales Athletics Board, and no important sports meeting was complete without Ted and his famous starting pistols which would often startle unwary people with their loud bang. In all, Teddy used four pistols, three of which were mid 19th century muzzle loading, using black powder and pad, fired by a percussion cap, while the fourth was a late 19th century sporting pistol, possibly of European manufacture. Boxing was also one of his great loves. He took on a young boxer named Jimmy Wilde, who under Teddy Lewis’s guidance would become a boxing legend, and was soon seven-stone champion of Wales, British Champion, and World champion. One national newspaper wrote at the time of his death at 70 in 1833: - "Wherever sportsmen gathered this week expressions of regret at the death of Teddy Lewis, Pontypridd, have been heard. He was more than a sportsman to them; he was a 'character' as outstanding as could possibly be imagined."