Clydach shown within Swansea
|OS grid reference||SN689013|
|Ceremonial county||West Glamorgan|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|Fire||Mid and West Wales|
Clydach is a village and community in the City and County of Swansea, Wales, falling within Clydach ward and the Llangyfelach Parish. It is located some 6 miles (9.7 km) north east of Swansea city centre. Its population in 2001 was 7,320. Welsh is the first language of 24 per cent of the population and both Welsh and English language schools are available. The village lies close to the M4 motorway which can be accessed via the bypass or old road via Ynystawe.
Around 1878 Clydach was a very small community if it could at all have been called that. Maps from this date show Clydach to consist of sub-areas namely 'Mount Pleasant' (the area by high street shops), 'Faerdre' (covering the area nearest to Vardre Road), 'Down' the area that was once 'Down Farm' which is now land laying behind the Farmer's Arms, Clydach and below 'Ty gwyn Road'. There was also an area called Ty Gwyn as Ty Gwyn/White House was present on the land. The road leading to Ty Gwyn is now Ty Gwyn Road and also 'Coed Cae-Du' near Craig Cefn Parc.
The map of c. 1878 Clydach (which can be viewed at the Archive Service at Swansea Civic Centre) shows that number 1 St John's Road was originally the old 'St John's School for Girls, Boys and Infants', which was linked to St John's Church near the shops at Capel Buildings near the Mond. A second school is shown where the current building of Clydach Infants stands which is also for girls/boys and infants.
On a map dated 1899 Clydach has grown substantially to have a larger community base with the school on Twyn-y-Bedw Road being expended upon and a 2nd school being built just a little farther up the same street. The St John's School was by this point being used as a Sunday school and not for general education. There was a Clydach woollen factory not far from the schools on a road named 'Prince Llewellyn Street' or as it is now known 'Factory Road'. St Mary's Church is not on this map and is shown as a blank open space.
In 1918 the Sunday school is still showing on the map under the area name of Vardre close to Mount Pleasant and Graig Felin was known as Aber-Clydach. The top of Clydach near Lone Road and Bryn Mair was named Upper Forge not yet having its slang title of 'Sunny Bank' with the locals. Note: Sunny Bank does not appear by name on any maps seen to date (June 2012).
In the early 19th century, Clydach was a small village in the Swansea Valley. As the coal in the South Wales Valleys was a valuable commodity during the Industrial Revolution, Clydach experienced growth as a through road for transporting goods between Swansea and the many mines and heavy metal industries. The 16 mile(26 km) long Swansea Canal was built through the centre of Clydach between 1794 and 1798. It was constructed to transport up to 400,000 tonnes of coal a year from Ystalyfera to Swansea port. The canal remained profitable until 1902, when losses were first reported. This decline in revenue and profits was largely due to the competition from its rival the Swansea Vale Railway. The last commercial cargo carried on the Swansea Canal was in 1931 when coal was conveyed from Clydach to Swansea. Boats continued to operate on the canal after that date but only for maintenance work, with horse-drawn boats last recorded in Clydach in 1958. Only 5 miles (8.0 km) of the canal's original length of 16 miles (26 km) remain.
The end of the 19th century and the early 20th century saw a significant growth in the village’s population. With the opening of the Mond in 1902 the village experienced significant growth as the factory became the main employer within the village. The figures below show the population for the parish of Rhyndwyglydach.
The population has recovered from the reduction seen in the early 1980s following the demise of mining and the heavy metal industries. The village's population was approximately 7,500 on 23 February 2010 and a population of 10,830 on 28 July 2011. The population of Clydach, Glamorgan, Wales, UK on 6 May 2012 is approximately 12,593.
Clydach Primary Care Centre
General Medical Services (GMS) were originally being provided by Dr Bowen and Partners, practicing from Clydach Health Centre on Sybil Street. The practice had six partners and 10,844 patients, covering, in the main, the villages of Clydach, Glais, Craig Cefn Parc and Trebanos. However, there are a substantial number of patients living in Morriston, Pontardawe, Birchgrove, Ynysforgan and Velindre areas. The practice is the only provider of primary care services located within the village itself.
The practice was well established in the area and had been a training practice for approximately 28 years when ideas for renovation arose. The practice delivered a number of enhanced services and a number of GPs had Special Interests. Enhanced services at the time of proposed renovation/development included minor surgery and near patient testing. The practice had a specialist interest in Dermatology, Rheumatology and Sports Medicine. In line with the training ethos of the practice, two GP registrars, one clinical fellow and 4 medical students per month worked in the health centre.
There was a range of ancillary staff employed in the practice (15 clinical and 11 ancillary practice staff), together with some 14 trust staff who provide services from Clydach Health Centre. The single-story flat roof health centre was constructed in the early 1970s. The building was originally intended to provide accommodation for one general practitioner and a limited community healthcare service. The building has been extended twice but any further expansion was not viable in terms of the size and location of the plot. Fundamentally the building is no longer fit for purpose with cramped waiting room, haphazard layout, lack of clinical rooms and treatment room facilities plus severe storage problems. This led to a small fire breaking out, which occurred during the day but the Swansea NHS Trust Fire Officer issued a report regarding his concerns over the safety of the building. Access to the building is also a cause for concern with a severe lack of parking space for staff and patients. Off-site parking on the surrounding residential roads caused a considerable level of nuisance to the locality. This surgery has been demolished for well over a year and in its place, housing is nearing completion. The health centre has moved to a modern design incorporating a pharmacy with ample car parking just off Clydach's High Street
Clydach War Memorial Hospital was founded by public subscription in 1925, on land given under covenant by the owner of the local tinplate works, W.J. "Percy" Player. A prototype community cottage hospital specialising in front-line mining injuries from the many private mines in the Swansea Valley, it was taken over by the NHS in the late 1940s, but was soon overshadowed by the much larger Morriston Hospital, and thereafter has been something of an ugly duckling, much to the irritation of the local population who consider "their" hospital was taken away from them and then dropped unwanted. In recent years an orthopedic centre, it was notionally re-opened in March 2003 following a £1million refurbishment, but not much used. The hospital provides community based, clinic services and an operational base for the voluntary carer organisation "Cross Roads". Some of these services transferred into the hospital from the Clydach Health Centre releasing accommodation for the development of primary care services, whilst others transferred from accommodation which no longer met the needs of the current services. In January 2012 a notional consultation period was started which seems never to have been drawn to the attention of the local population, in that in August 2012 a major dispute broke out between the Clydach Community Council and the Forces Aid Foundation, which was apparently in the process of acquiring the hospital from the NHS without any local consultation. Threatened with a designation for building as part of a plan designed by Swansea City Council and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, services which were provided at the hospital for local people have now transferred to other locations, but following representations that this breaches the Player covenant, it would seem that the original plan to retask the hospital as a veterans' care centre for approximately 250,000 armed forces veterans in South Wales is now accepted orthodoxy.
The centre of Clydach High Street, the main commercial area of the town has had major investments in improving its facilities. These include reshaping and resurfacing of the road, new flagstones to replace tarmac pavements, new trees, new seats and cycle racks. Work was commissioned by Cwmni Clydach Development Trust, with funding for the schemes provided by the Welsh Development Agency and Swansea City Council. A grant of over £130,000 was made available for local high street businesses to improve the frontage to their stores.
Clydach has a market that is open from 06:00 until 13:00 on Wednesdays and from 09:00 until 16:00 on Sundays. In December 2003 it was reported by the BBC that Trading Standards were investigating how 500 Air Canada in-flight breakfasts came to be on sale at the market. The microwave meals of scrambled egg, bacon, sausage and mushrooms were being sold for 20p. They were supposed to be on a flight departing London Heathrow earlier that morning.
The property on which it stands has now been sold and the market closed in early January 2013.
Clydach Refinery, affectionately known as 'the Mond', was built by Ludwig Mond the inventor of the nickel carbonyl process at the turn of the 20th century. It started production in 1902. It is Europe’s largest nickel refinery. It is 100% owned by Vale and produces nickel powder, nickel pellets and other various nickel-coated materials. It also has a nickel foam production plan that until recently was the sole provider of the nickel foam required in the power cells of the Toyota Prius, production has since moved to a plant in China.
The plant was the heart of the village and one of the largest employers in the Swansea Valley for many years. By 1910 over 40% of the village’s population worked in the refinery. Today, with improvements in processing and a rationalisation of products, the refinery now only employs just over 240 people, equating to 3% of the village's population.
The refinery has been progressive in ensuring the reduction of emissions and pollutants. The River Tawe, which runs alongside the refinery, is once again home to breeding salmon and trout. The refinery is, however, a top-tier Control of Major Accident Hazard Regulations (COMAH) site, due to the inherent nature of its process.
There are a number of churches and chapels in Clydach, serving both English and Welsh language speakers. Clydach is a parish of the Church in Wales, the parish church being St. Mary's on High Street. Other English language churches include Bethel Evangelical Church, Calvary Full Gospel Church (Assemblies of God) and St. Benedicts (Roman Catholic). Two Welsh language chapels remain in Clydach: Calfaria (Welsh Baptist) and Capel y Nant (Welsh Independents). Capel y Nant was formed in 2008 and meets at the former Carmel Chapel. The church was created through the uniting of Hebron and Carmel Independent Chapels. Capel y Nant also welcomes members of Salem Fardre Presbyterian Church, and is in partnership with Clydach English language Methodist Church.
A number of Welsh-speaking churches/chapels in the community have recently closed, though their buildings still remain. These include St. John's (High Street), Hebron (Hebron Road) which is now being converted into a dwelling house by a local resident, whose family have lived in the village for the past 100 years. Also in Clydach is Bethania English Baptist Church, Graig-felin. The Reverend Valentine Evans, who wrote the History of Clydach at the beginning of the 20th century, is buried in its cemetery. A Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses located on Capel Road is one of the oldest in Wales.
Leisure and learning
Mond Valley Golf Club
Originally a nine-hole course (dating back to the 1960s) that was intended to be a resource exclusively for INCO (Clydach Refinery) employees, the course now welcomes golfers of all ages and abilities throughout the year.
The club is easily accessible from the M4 (within 2 km). The course is an easy walking parkland and nestled neatly in the historic Swansea Valley bordered on one side by the meandering River Tawe and by the Swansea Canal. It was renamed Mond Valley Golf Club in May 2012 after Vale Europe outsourced the management to help the golf club progress. The new name draws inspiration from one of the most influential people in bringing nickel to the region, and therefore the Clydach Refinery (Ludwig Mond) and the scenic nature of the location in the Swansea Valley (Valley) and throughout 2012 has been exemplary in drainage and conditioning despite the inclement weather and past perceptions. The course has also been witness to some great golf contests including the Mond Massacre, where the great rivalry between Pethomas and Stefro resulted in a brutal 4 up score for Pethomas securing their name with the greats, and condemning Stefro to pure shame.
Early golf in the area Gelliwasted Golf Club, Clydach (Now defunct) was founded in 1909. It disappeared following the First World War.
Forge Fach Community Resource Centre
Following the demolition of the old Clydach swimming pool (or 'the Baths', or 'Danny's baths' as the locals called it), the Cwmni Clydach Development Trust, commissioned a new multi purpose community resource centre at Forge Fach, at a cost of approximately £1.8 million, funded by the Welsh Assembly Government, City & County of Swansea & Clydach Community Council. The centre opened in 2006. It provides a range of facilities including a community café, a full day care nursery (Forge Fach Day Nursery), a multi-purpose hall, ICT suite, training & conferencing facilities plus an external multi-use games area. In addition there are a number of fully serviced offices rented by local businesses.
Forge Fach was intended to assist in the social and economic regeneration of Clydach and Graigfelen, offering a range of activities & facilities for the benefit of all members of the community. These include exercise classes, social meeting groups, dance classes, diet & fitness, ‘First Strike Karate & Kickboxing Club’& the 'Performance Factory Stage School’. The City & County of Swansea’s Lifelong Learning department & Swansea University’s Dept of Adult Continuing Education use the centre to run a number of adult education classes in subjects such as Drawing & Painting, IT, History, Sociology, French, Spanish & Welsh. In 2011 the City & County of Swansea opened the 'Waterfall View' day service at Forge Fach, enabling local people to have access to a community social services facility as close to home as possible. Forge Fach also acts as an educational venue for the local St. John Ambulance Division, where members of the community can improve their first aid skills.
Forge Fach is situated next to the Forge Fach Waterfalls, part of the Lower Clydach River, which runs into the Tawe River and gave Clydach its original name, Clydach-on-Tawe. Clydach is the equivalent of the Irish word Cladaugh, meaning sandy bend/strand.
2006 saw the opening of the Old Public Hall, which was converted into an indoor climbing centre and was renamed 'Dynamic Rock'. It is now home to the Swansea Indoor Climbing Centre. The walls are 12m high and feature overhangs, slabs, pillars, arêtes and arches.
The Cwm Clydach RSPB Reserve is situated on the outskirts of the village, en route to Craig Cefn Park near the New Inn pub.
The Cwm Clydach nature reserve used to be the home to the Nixon and Bell Drift mine. It was affectionately known as Nixon's and was one of the main employers until 1960–1961. It was used after as a pumping station, and would drain water from the Abergelli and Graig Merthyr collieries and then on te then Brynmill colliery at Grovesend.
The colliery was a rock top colliery and there was even a steam boiler underground, which was rare in a colliery, but as there was no gas in the mine at that area it was safe enough.
Little remains of the colliery now, and there is a walk up the valley past other remnants of other NCB and private mines.
Clydach is served by National Cycle Route 43. Major work has recently been undertaken on part of the cycle route between Clydach and Glais. The lottery-funded Sustrans laid a new tarmac path for pedestrians and cyclists, which begins alongside the River Tawe, behind the Vardre Rugby Club, and ends at Station Road in Glais. The tarmac path was mainly built on space used by abandoned railway tracks.
Clydach Infants, Clydach Junior and Graigfelen Primary schools are the main primary schools for residents. There is also a Welsh medium primary school, Ysgol Gynradd Gymraeg Gellionnen, on Gellionnen Road, and a Roman Catholic primary school, St Joseph's, on Pontardawe Road. Clydach Infants and Clydach Juniors are now one school (Clydach Primary School) in late 2013.
The village used to be the home to the Cwmtawe Lower Comprehensive School. It was the junior part of the three tier school system, the other partners being GCG lower school and Cwmtawe Upper School Pontardawe. Three schools were split, the lower schools were for the 11- to 13-year-olds and then the last three years of compulsory education was at the Cwmtawe Upper School in Pontardawe. Today Clydach is in the catchment area of Birchgrove Comprehensive School. However, many residents attend Cwmtawe Comprehensive School in Pontardawe.
Football - There are a number of football teams that play in Clydach including, F.C. Clydach, Inco, Clydach Sports and Sunnybank W.M.C. All of which play in the Neath & District League.
Rugby - Vardre Rugby Football Club is a sporting venue in Clydach and Clydach's younger residents train out on the pitches behind the building over the canal. They have 1st, 2nd and junior teams and often take part in charitable events to raise much needed cash.
- West Glamorgan Archives Service
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2005-12-28. Retrieved 2008-10-09.
- accessed 17 June 2015
- “Gelliwasted Golf Club”, “Golf’s Missing Links”.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-09-28. Retrieved 2014-06-23.
- Clydach Community Council website
- A nurse talks about her memories of working in Clydach Hospital during the 2nd World War
- Clydach Primary Care Centre
- Clydach Electoral Divisions
- West Glamorgan Archives