Cefn Coed y
Cymmer means ‘wooded ridge at the river confluence’ and was once a large
wooded area. Originally it was a ‘dormitory’ village dependent on the
Cyfarthfa Works and the nearby quarries for employment. The village of
Cefn Coed in the 1880s consisted of 600 houses with a population of
2,500. Cefn Coed had its own police station, although the police force
here came long after Merthyr Tydfil and Glamorgan had one. It was in the
Parliamentary Borough of Merthyr Tydfil ( until 1915 ) and in the
Merthyr Registration District but for County Council purposes it was in
the County of Breconshire until 1974. The local nickname for this
village is ‘bucket’ town. In Victorian times there were once a large
number of old cottages here lacking in sanitation. However, here are
some impressive late nineteenth century houses/villas built in upper
Vaynor for the more affluent inhabitants. Rose Mary Crawshay is reputed
to have founded one of the first libraries open to the public here and
the first ‘public’ library open on Sundays.
The Cefn Coed
Viaduct was built in 1866 to carry the Brecon and Merthyr Railway across
the river Taff at Pontycapel. The design was by A. Sutherland, a friend
of Robert Thompson Crawshay, and it was built by Messrs. Savel and Ward
It consists of 15 openings, each one 39 feet 9 inches, a length of
725ft. and a maximum height of 115ft. It was built on a curve and this
curve is the viaduct’s main point of architectural interest. The origin
cost of the bridge was Ł25, 000 and it is the third largest viaduct in
There were a
number of religious buildings here. Hen dy Cwrdd Unitarian Chapel in
Cefn Coed, tucked behind the main High Street, is one of the oldest
surviving chapels in the borough and a beautifully restored building.
The present building dates from 1853 and is well worth visiting. The
roots of the Unitarians can be traced back directly to the famous
Cymyglo Chapel in Heolgerrig, where met for worship the first Protestant
non-conformists within the Parish of Merthyr Tydfil. Other chapels here
included Carmel, Cefn Coed (1844), the Pentecostal Mission, Tabor
(Welsh Independent,1845), Aaubrey Chapel (Wesleyan, 1876), Moriah (Welsh
Calvanistic Methodist, 1807) and Ebenezer (Welsh Baptist, 1838). The
parish church is St. John’s built by Robert Thompson Crawshay in 1874
which has a graceful spire.
Until recent years there was a thriving Cefn Choir
Male Voice Choir, which had links with the lowlands of Scotland and
arranged regular trips there to coincide with rugby matches. There was
a large brewery here called the Pontycapel Brewery.
Public houses here included:-
the Cefn Hotel, Drovers Arms, Crawshay Arms, Lord Raglan, Gwynne’s
Arms, Plasnewydd Hotel, Rising Sun (demolished 1962), Green Dragon,
Bell Inn (demolished 1970s), Station Hotel, Castle Inn, Cross Keys,
Royal Oak, George, Railway, Globe, White Horse, Greyhounds Head, Farmers
Arms and the Corner House.
The school here, the Vaynor and Penderyn School, Old
Church St. closed in 2006. Originally there was a school here in 1861
built by Robert Thompson Crawshay. An infant’s school was built in 1868
and was replaced by a new building in 1910.
His village was joined to Merthyr Tydfil by a good
transport system and from 1910 the first electric tram ran from Cefn
Coed to either central Merthyr Tydfil or Dowlais.
Once stagecoaches travelled regularly through Cefn
Coed to Swansea or Brecon. In later years the Brecon and Merthyr Railway
line ran through the village and there was a busy station just off the
top of the High Street. The last train passed over Cefn Coed Viaduct in