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Merthyr Tydfil


<click on the photograph to enlarge>


Vaynor is a separate parish from that of Merthyr Tydfil. There are two river valleys in Vaynor, the Taff Fechan  and the Taff Fawr. The place name Vaynor is derived from the Welsh word ‘Van’ meaning high or lofty. Other spellings such as Faenor or Vainor are possibly of early Irish origins. The original Vaynor Church was built in 874 or 714 but was burnt down during the battle of Maesvaynor which took place in 1291, the church replacing this very early one became dilapidated by 1867 and the Crawshays had a new church built which was completed in 1870. The church is dedicated to St Gwynno. There are lots of stories and legends about Vaynor, one is that the church tower was often used as a temporary prison and that a thief sleeping overnight there discovered 100s of skulls.

Cilsanws Mountain, derives from Irish origin and is supposed to be from Sannos, one of the daughters of Brychan of Brecon. Cil is Irish for church and so the meaning is church of Sannos. 

One of the most remarkable memorials in Vaynor Churchyard is the grave of Robert Thompson Crawshay, known as the ‘Iron King’. It is a slab of stone of immense size said to weigh 10 tons. He famously had the inscription ‘God forgive me’ on his grave. This has been interpreted as meaning that he was sorry for his actions (  closing the Cyfarthfa Works and making hundreds of his workforce destitute and possibly also the way he behaved towards his own family ), however, these words were a very common inscription on Victorian tombstones.

 The Merthyr Tydfil Board of Health gradually acquired land in Vaynor for various essential purposes. A large cemetery was established in the 1850s ( Cefn Coed ). The reservoirs for the growing industrial town of Merthyr Tydfil were constructed in the Parish of Vaynor from the 1860s onwards. There was once a large elegant house in rural Vaynor named Vaynor House but today only photographs survive of this building.

For educational purposes Vaynor was joined to nearby Penderyn and the secondary school was the Vaynor and Penderyn Comprehensive School. This school was taken over by Mid Glamorgan in 1974 and finally closed in 2005.

The Vaynor district ( Cefn Coed, Trefechan and Pontsticill ) became a part of the Borough of Merthyr Tydfil in March 1974 as a result of local government reorganisation.  The main planning authority is the National Park as this area is a part of the Brecon Beacons National Park and an area of great beauty.


Vaynor Church where Robert Crawshay the Ironmaster is buried.


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Vaynor Church


Vaynor Bridge. This has recently been rebuilt allowing people to walk down the side of the river on the old tramway that ran to Cyfarthfa Works




Taff Fechan River

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Vaynor Church and the Church Tavern

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This photograph of Vaynor Church was taken by Stanley Morgan Jones before he emigrated to New Zealand in 1905,

it was sent to us by his Granddaughter Bronwyn Jones together with this message :-

"Grandpa’s father was John Jones and mother Elizabeth Howells (her parents were Morgan and Hannah Howells) they also lived in 12 Regent Street,

which I think is in Dowlais where Elizabeth died when she was only 40. Many family members were colliers although Grandpa Stanley became a carpenter

and an artist once in New Zealand. He was a great singer, and fluent in Welsh. My sister and I will be in Merthyr Tydfil in May (2014) to meet up with cousins

for the first time."

(Photograph Courtesy of Bronwyn Jones)

Vaynor Church and Viaduct

(Postcard Courtesy of The Leo Davies Collection)

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A Funeral at Vaynor Church

Vaynor, near Merthyr Tydfil

(Postcard Courtesy of The Leo Davies Collection)

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The Church Tavern - once used as a circuit  court in the 1700's, now a private residence

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Vaynor Cottage

(Postcard Courtesy of Gill Thomas, West Grove)


Vaynor Cottage. 1946.

(Photograph Courtesy of The John Owen Collection)

Vaynor Cottage in the Snow

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Vaynor Cottage

(Postcard Courtesy of Gill Thomas, West Grove)


Vaynor Cottage and Dolcoed, Pontsarn.

Vaynor House.

Once the home of the Howfield family, now demolished and The Birchway, Trefechan, stands in it's place.

(Photograph Courtesy of Dave, Webmaster to the Cefn Coed Rugby Club.)


Blaen y Glais Farm in 1960

At one time this was a circulating school, and in 1738 had 78 pupils.

Vaynor School Infants - 1921


Do you have any photographs or information relating to Vaynor?

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