Historic Landscape Characterisation
The Rhondda

013 Treherbert

HLCA 013 Treherbert
Estate planned and built 1st phase colliery settlement with mainly minor additions during the 2nd and 3rd phases; retains typical housing and converted commercial properties etc; interesting 19th century buildings, i.e. National School and House, Almshouses and Dumfries Street and numerous chapels; garden village addition & early council housing; Grid-pattern layout; moderately developed commercial centre.

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(Photo: GGAT HLCA013)

Treherbert: St Mary's Alms Houses, Bute Street.
Historic background

The historic landscape area of Treherbert comprises an industrial settlement core dating to the 1850s, when the Bute Estate built 50-60 houses after the sinking of a shaft at Cwmsaerbren by the Bute Merthyr Colliery in 1855 (Fisk 1996). Generally the estate owners did not provide industrial housing in the coalfield, Treherbert is a rare exception. The settlement was initially laid out on the land of Cwmsaerbren and Tonllwyd farms of the Bute Estate and later extended into neighbouring Bute property of Ty-newydd, and Ynysfeio Farm, shown in the ownership of Griffith Llywellyn on the Tithe of 1844. The spacious layout of the urban settlement of the 1850s, namely its wide, straight roads and the grid pattern, display the estate's interest in planning and design following the Public Health Act of 1848. The Bute Estate, like that of the Crawshay Bailey Estate, employed inspectors to supervise and monitor the laying out of building land and housing developments (Fisk 1996). The satellite settlements of Penyrenglyn and Ynyswen, while attempting to mirror the more generous layout of Treherbert itself, are a poor reflection of it, developing in a more piecemeal fashion over time and exhibiting a less spacious and regular plan. This haphazard development probably can be traced back to the varied ownership of this relatively small area, being under four different estates (Bute; Dunraven; William Morgan; and Griffith Llywellyn).

The housing stock of Treherbert is predominantly the linear two-storey terrace, often with a larger unit at one or both ends of the terrace, usually an Inn or Hotel, but sometimes of another commercial function; the terraces are mainly single fronted houses, though some examples of the double fronted type are present. The buildings are invariably of the local pennant sandstone. Of particular note are the St Mary's Alms Houses (with Tudor Gothic details) and the block at the north end of Dumfries Street, which present a symmetrical design, with projecting central block and wings.

The nucleus of Treherbert is shown almost complete on the 1st edition 6-inch OS map of 1884 (surveyed in 1875), its grid pattern well established. At this stage in its development, c. 1871, the settlement, primarily Bute and Dumfries Streets, would have been predominantly residential. The dominant commercial element visible today, along the west side of Bute Street, originated during the latter part of the 19th century with the conversion of the residential terraces. The northern limit of the settlement comprises a group of linear terraces located adjacent to the former tramway which lead to the Rhondda Merthyr Colliery. The settlement, which was served by a station on the Taff Vale Railway, had at least four chapels, one of which, Libanus Chapel had a burial ground, a church, St. Mary's (now demolished), a police station and public hall. Collieries in the area include the Bute or Rhondda Merthyr Colliery (sunk in 1855), the Lady Margaret Colliery (sunk in 1877) and nearby Ty-newydd Colliery (which later merged with the Rhondda Merthyr Colliery), and the Bute Colliery, situated west of the Taff Vale Railway. Also indicated on the 1st edition map at Treherbert is a sawmill.

At Treherbert minor additions were made to the pre-existing street pattern, including additional terraces near the station and at the southern limits of the settlement (Mount Libanus) by the end of the 19th century and the survey of the 2nd edition 6-inch OS map (1897-1898, published 1900). Also dating to this period is the provision of a school on church street, the National School and House, allotment gardens at the west end of Dumfries Street and a football ground. In contrast, however to general improvements being made, the wooden huts, e.g. Upper Bute Huts, a type of temporary dwelling usually associated with initial shaft sinking phase of settlement, were still inhabited even as late as 1879, as reports of their unsanitary conditions indicate. The 1921 edition 6-inch OS map, revised in 1914, illustrates provision of further housing and schools, in the area west of the Rhondda River and also rising up the hillside above Dumfries Street.

Penyrenglyn and Ynyswen, as mentioned above, develop in a less regular way than Treherbert itself. By 1875 an emerging grid pattern is in place at Penyrenglyn, including George Street; the settlement supports the usual schools, public houses and inns; while the layout is based on the grid with terraced housing fronting the north-south side streets as well as the east-west main thoroughfare, as opposed to the simpler grid layout of Treherbert where short linear terraces parallel the main east-west Bute Street. The major colliery of Ynysfeio (sunk by James Thomas of Ynyshir and Partners after 1854) and the tramway to Ynysfeio quarry are also in place at this time, while Ynyswen is as yet undeveloped apart from the small Ynyswen Colliery and the Crown Inn (1st edition 6-inch OS map 1884, surveyed 1875). Penyrenglyn is little changed by the late 19th century (1897-98), except for the addition of a drill hall, while minor development has occurred near Ynyswen Colliery (Crown Level Colliery), including Maes-y-Ffrwd Terrace (and Sunday School) and north of Ynyswen Road, a school and terraced housing (2nd edition 1900, revised 1897-98). The 1921 edition (revised 1914) indicates little additional development for Penyrenglyn apart from additional terraces above including Herbert Terrace and Ynysfeio Avenue, the expansion of the colliery and addition of the schools above Charles Street. However, it is during this period that Ynyswen's development occurs with linear development along Ynyswen Road together with development to the north, including Kenry Street, Dunraven and Adare Streets; the settlement gains two chapels (including the classical Ainon Welsh Baptist Chapel of 1899), an infant school, hall and Gas Works at this time. Nant Dyrys Colliery (or slant) is named also for the first time.

A late addition to the settlement was the smaller than intended 'garden village' of Fernhill; this comprised 14 houses constructed by a public utility society established by the local colliery company during World War I. While by the close of 1921, some of the first council housing in the Rhondda, privately built, had been constructed at Eileen Place, Treherbert.


For further information please contact the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust at this address. Link to the Countryside Council for Wales website at www.ccw.gov.uk or Cadw at www.cadw.wales.gov.uk