This is the Tâf
Fawr Valley in the Parish of Vaynor, which was in Breconshire until
1974. At one time this valley was mainly rough grazing pasture for
sheep; although there were also a number of lime kilns situated here.
This was an agricultural area until the Cardiff Waterworks Company was
given permission in 1884 to impound water here. The Cantref Reservoir
here dates from 1892 and caused the farms of Glancrew, Crewisaf,
Abercrew and Blaentaf to be demolished. The construction of the Llwyn-On
Reservoir, which opened in 1926, made a huge difference to the landscape
here. In this valley were the hamlets of Ynysyfelin and Nantddu.
Ynysyfelin was located on the right bank of the river, near the bridge
over the Taf Fawr. Before the area was flooded in 1914 there were farms,
small holdings, the Red Lion and the Farmers’ Arms, the Pwllcoch
woollen mill a school and a chapel here. Bethel Baptist Chapel, founded
in 1799 by members of Zion Twynyrodyn, still survives today because it
was rebuilt elsewhere. It reopened in July 1914 at Llwynon, a small
hamlet straddling either side of the A 470 about 2 miles from Cefn Coed.
The farm, which once stood opposite Bethel chapel, Troedyrhiw Farm, is
now under the reservoir.
The hamlet of
Nantddu was north of Ynysyfelin and at the confluence of the Nantddu
brook and the Taf Fawr river. Here was St Mary’s church, with its
vicarage, and a number of pubs, including the Tredegar Arms. A good deal
of the land was owned by Lord Tredegar, who had a hunting and shooting
lodge here ( now the greatly extended Nantddu Hotel ). Land here was
purchased by the Cardiff Corporation and well outside the jurisdiction
of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council. During the period of
reservoir building hundreds of ‘navies’ came to Cwm Tâf and a ‘navies’
line ran from Cefn Coed to Cwm Tâf. Men and limestone were carried from
the quarry under the Ffrwd farm to Cwm Tâf. These workers lived in
overcrowded conditions in ‘huts’, until the reservoir was completed and
then they moved on to the next job.
In 1946 the
Forestry Commission purchased 2,342 acres of land in the upper Taf Fawr.
The Garwnant Centre is the centre for the Coed Tâf Fawr woodlands. There
is a visitors centre, exhibition, gift shop and a café. There are
woodland walking trails, a family cycle route and a toddlers play area.
The village of Llwyn- On consists of houses, which were originally
council houses, a guest house and houses built by the Forestry
Commission; together with the old Llwyn-On farmhouse and the new Capel
Bethel Baptist Chapel. Little has been written in detail about the
history of this area.
The farms and
farmers are all listed in the 1840s tithe schedules and exploring the
area reveals interesting small bridges and pathways. Unfortunately the
A470 has become increasing busy in the last decade as it is the main
route between Mid and North Wales and Cardiff.