The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd.

Character Areas


002 Blaenavon Urban Extension

'Middle-class' housing along the A4043

HLCA002 Blaenavon Urban Extension

Late nineteenth and twentieth century urban settlement, planned though some early organic development. Large middle class houses, modern terraced and council housin. Remnant agricultural landscape.Back to map

Historic Background

The historic landscape area of Blaenavon Urban Extensionrepresents the maximum limit of urban expansion from the end of the nineteenth century. The north-west boundary of the area represents the extent of enclosed land, which during the early industrial settlement of the area had largely been subdivided into rectilinear fields; this is now extensively built over.

The historical development of the area can be viewed as late nineteenth and twentieth century urban settlement expansion over early industrial/agricultural landscape, which in turn had been superimposed over the pre-existing medieval/early post-medieval agricultural landscape of evolved, irregular enclosures. These included the medieval/early post-medieval Fee of Parc Lettice and eighteenth century leaselands to the north.

The area includes land encroached upon and enclosed during the late nineteenth century associated with a collection of smallholdings laid out along the main roads. Remains of the former agricultural landscape survive along the southern edge of the area and include the ancient freehold estate of Ton Mawr, associated with Mr Francis James, and Y Coed, formally belonging to a Mr Edward James. The original farmhouse of Ton Mawr is now destroyed and part of the town has encroached over this land. Forestry to the north of Coed Farm was cleared in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century for such development. Most of the enclosed fields around the Coedcae Farm area have also been lost to urban expansion, extending into Middle and Upper Coedcae.

Urban development of the area occurred in a short period of time as shown on the 2nd and 3rd edition OS maps of 1901 and 1920. The period of construction appears to have started within the last two decades of the nineteenth century; this is reflected by the erection of St Paul's Church, Llanover Road, constructed in the Gothic style in 1893. Further expansion of planned urban settlement occurred during the second half of the twentieth century, replacing most of the original farmhouses and cottages largely with extensive council estates.

Historic Landscape Characteristics

Blaenavon Urban Extension is today predominantly characterised by council estates of varying dates from the 1930s to the 1970s, for example, Kennard Court, Kennard Crescent and Capel Newydd, including 1960s and 70s prefab-housing. However, perhaps a more significant characteristic is to be found between Cwmavon Road and Ton Mawr Road; this area relates to the late-nineteenth century/ early-twentieth century properties leading out of town. This development is characteristic of the upwardly mobile aspirations of the emerging middle classes during the period.

The built environment in this part of the HLCA reflects the increasing prosperity and social standing of their inhabitants. The buildings here are generally larger than elsewhere in Blaenavon and tend to increase in scale with distance from the town centre. These properties are mainly built from rusticated stone and display a variety of styles; characteristic features include bay windows, stone stacks, red and yellow brick detail to doors and windows with carved roundels. Also characteristic are the walled front gardens, many retaining iron railings.

Along Cwmavon Road are large imposing terraces of two and three storey properties. Most are single fronted, with both rendered and pebble-dashed elevations, large double height bay windows and front gardens with elaborate original iron railings and gate posts, set back from the road. Some of these houses retain original fenestration. Towards the end out of town end of Cwmavon Road are a number of larger detached villas.

A similar characteristic area of housing lies along Ton Mawr Road, this has a spacious layout with a "village green" feeling between Ton Mawr Road and Charles Street. The spacious feeling is enhanced by moderately large front gardens with privet hedges and mature trees. The housing stock here comprises of substantial terraces of paired, single fronted houses. Original details include round-headed archways to doors in red and yellow brick and decorative keystones. The area exhibits a variety of roofing materials including slate and concrete tiles and brick stacks (mostly removed). The lower part of the Ton Mawr Road is characterised by single fronted houses with yellow brick detail to windows and doors and typically large bay windows and slate roofs.

The area immediately behind Ton Mawr Road including Gladstone Terrace and New James Street is characterised by less ornate smaller properties. Generally these are single fronted with tri-part door arrangement in a variety of styles, some are now rendered.

The area is also characterised by the remnant agricultural landscape, the form of which is largely present along Llanover Road and Upper Coed Cae Road, however, most of the larger fields have been divided up to serve as gardens or allotments. These formed a regular pattern of large and medium rectilinear enclosures; some original dry-stone field boundaries remain. Subsequently, some of the remaining open areas have been turned over to sporting facilities. The formerly more extensive area of woodland around Maes y Glyn and Cae-Dalwyn Farm retains much of its character despite the clearance of woodland in the late twentieth century.

A minor characteristic feature of this area is that of water management with reservoirs and a water-works, dating back to the latter half of the nineteenth century.