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Crynant (or Welsh: Y Creunant) is a medium-sized village in the picturesque Dulais Valley, lying between Mynydd Marchywel to the west, Hirfynydd to the east and Mynydd y Drum to the north. It lies 7¾ miles from the town of Neath in the ancient county of Glamorgan, South Wales.


[edit] Notable Crynant Residents

While many websites claim John Cale of the Velvet Underground was born in Creunant, this appears to be incorrect (in fact he was born in Garnant). 

Notables who grew up in Creunant include Melveena McKendrick, author and academic, who is a Professor, and Pro Vice Chancellor for Education at Cambridge University; Geraint Lewis, astrophysicist, well-respected in his field; Marian Davies, presenter of the 1960s TV show How, and Mike Smith (saxophonist) from the 1960s band Amen Corner.

Michael Victor Greenslade FVCM, FNCM, FCSM, Hon.FNMSM, Hon.FNMSM (TD), LLCM. A respected pianist, music teacher and for many years organist in the village church at St Margarets, who was notably a Fellow of the Victoria College of Music London, a Fellow of the National College of Music and Arts London, a Fellow of the Cambridge Society of Musicians, an Honourary Fellow of the North & Midlands School of Music (both in pianoforte and teaching) and a Licentiate of the London College of Music.

Alfred Russel Wallace]], one of the leading names in the development of the theory of evolution and the name behind Wallace's Line, lived in Neath and is known to have spent time in Creunant.

[edit] History

The name Y Creunant has it's etymology, like many Welsh place names, in description. 'Creu' (or nghreu) meaning the creation, or beginning, and 'nant' meaning stream.

As a settlement Creunant has a long history proven in archaeology dating back to Roman times (the Roman road Sarn Helen was built along the crest of Hirfynydd above the village nearly 2,000 years ago). There may have been Celtic and even pre-Celtic settlements here earlier. No one has yet written a complete history of Creunant.

In the Middle Ages, there was a small monastic cell here where monks and other pilgrims would break their journeys. The village first appeared on maps as Capel Creunant (Creunant Chapel) which may have referred to this monastic outpost. Creunant remained a rural agricultural community of scattered farms until the 19th century, and the discovery of coal.

The first colliery was Tynewydd, the remains of which can still be seen behind Pen Pentre (a terrace of old cottages - the first street to be built in the village). Men seeking work down the mines began arriving in Creunant, and the current village started taking shape, centred on the Square. Pen Pentre, the Square, Maes Mawr and Station Road all date from the 19th century. Station Road, of course, referred to the fact that the Neath and Brecon Railway ran through the village (built in the mid 1860's).

Creunant was once home to numerous collieries, including Cefn Coed which was, at one time, the deepest anthracite mine in the world. However, none of the former collieries are operational nowadays, and all but one have largely been reclaimed by nature. The only colliery with some of its buildings still in a good state of repair is Blaenant, which was an extension of the old Cefn Coed colliery. The Cefn Coed Coal Museum now housed there is named after the original mine. Blaenant was the last colliery to close. Until the late 80's, there was another large colliery in the village - Treforgan- which has since been demolished. Part of the former site was used to establish Creunant Business Park (see below). Scattered around the village are the remains of older collieries (such as Tynewydd and Top Jebbs). The end of coal mining changed the face of the village, the valley and the whole of South Wales. The valley is only recently beginning to develop from an economic depression brought with the end of industry, and services are limited.

[edit] Other Information

Creunant is also the name of an electoral ward and a community, coterminous with the village, in Neath Port Talbot County Borough.

Creunant Business Park has been established upon the Treforgan site, enabling smaller companies to generate some employment for the community. Crynant Plant, a building and demolition company, is still by far the largest industry in the area, however most people commute to work to Neath, Swansea, or further afield.

There are now only two pubs in the village: the Gradon, located on the main road slightly north of Creunant Business park, and The Kingfisher, which is on the northern extreme of the village where the road runs across the common and down into the Swansea valley. The oldest pub, the Red Lion, recently closed having been in business since 1850.

The Gradon used to be known as the British Legion. Its unusual name was derived from the names of the children of the owner, Grant and Donna.

The two clubs in the village, the Welfare used to be a miners working mans club, and the Rugby Club. The Welfare has seen considerable decline since the closure of the coal mines in the 1980s.

The village used to host a carnival every year, but with the demise of coal mining, that now has stopped. During WW II it was famous for the pantomimes which it produced every year, and which toured the surrounding villages.

The countryside is very different from many Welsh coal mining villages, and is much prettier now that the coal tips to the south of the village have been removed, and those at Treforgan are now hidden under silver birch (although this site is now a haven for motor cross and quad bikes, much to the consternation of the people living near by). Both sides of the village used to be covered by farmed conifer forests, but these have recently been removed by the Forestry Commision in order for native trees to grow. As this will be a slow process the hills now look quite bleak in places.

To the west of the village, on the old Neath road, lies Tyn-y-graig Mansion. Tyn - Y 0 Graig was built be the owner of Vale of Neath Brewery, Evans Bevan, for his daughter . It is currently being renovated and is a private dwelling. This can be glimpsed from the A4109 when travelling north, just as you pass Blaenant colliery.

Walking behind the mansion up to Bull Rock (Craig Poeth is the original Welsh name, lit. = "hot rock"), provides not only a striking bird's eye view of this house but also, if you come in May and June, of the woods richly carpeted in blue-bells.

Creunant is a long village, lying on the narrow valley floor and lower slopes of Hirfynydd. Originally there were separate villages (essentially separate farms), such as the region of Treforgan, but all have now merged into a single village. Farming is still important to the village and the hillsides are dotted with sheep and some cattle. The cattle are all for meat, with no dairy industry in the village. The village has a few small shops, the most famous being the charmingly old-fashioned Segadelli's (or Stella's) cafe on the Square which sells ice cream and boiled sweets (including the extremely tasty, although sticky, Swansea mixture).

St Illtyd's Way also passes through the village, and there is a rumour that Gelli Galed, an old (now ruined) farmhouse dating back to the 17th century, which is perched on a ridge of Marchywel above the village, used to be a chapel for resting monks on their way to St David's. Certainly a great deal of historical importance is attached to the building: for example, it is purported that there was a secret chamber used for hiding fugitives during the Civil War. It was also used as a chapel during the 18th century, serving the inhabitants of the area on both sides of Marchywel mountain.

The river Dulais flows through the village and was often referred to as the Black River due to pollution by coal dust from the local mining industry. With the demise of the mines, the river runs clear again. A slaughter house used to stand on the banks of the river, at the end of Maes Mawr, and the blood used to stain the river red. Apparently, the red wavy lines at the top of the Crynant badge (the emblem of the rugby team) represent the blood stained river.

[edit] External links

The emblem of Crynant Rugby Club also includes a picture of a white horse which is believed to relates to the mountain of March Hywel that overlooks the village and relates to a story or, even a legend, that relates to Hywel's Horse relating back to an ancient battle that took place on the mountain between local tribes. The badge also contains a picture of a star that relates to the original home of Crynant RFC, The Star Hotel on the opposite side is a picture of what can only be described as an M with two circles placed over the points of the M. To this day nobody within the village is able to determine what this symbol means and since the designer of the badge is no longer alive, perhaps this symbol will never be explainable.

(Source: Wikipedia)
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