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Brynna and Llanharan

Updated on October 30, 2014

Brynna and Llanharan, Rhondda Cynon Taf, South Wales

This is where I live.

Well, I'm just over the hill....in a manner of speaking.

Not so much a town as a pair of small ex-mining villages, sitting between the famous Rhondda Valley and the picturesque Vale of Glamorgan. It's hard to separate the two as one leads directly into the other and I have lived in both, but each has its own character. Here is my definitive guide to this not-to-be-missed travel destination :-)

This photo was taken on the hills up above where we live.

I want to say a huge thank you to Alan, who has so very kindly agreed to let me use some of his glorious photos. More of Alan's work can be seen here: AJ Scapes. Please take a look at them - they'll make your toes curl! But then come back and read the rest of this page.

© This page was created by TheRaggedEdge. All rights reserved.

Llanharan and Brynna

Where are they?

Llanharan and Brynna are two conjoined villages which, together, form a 'crab's claw' - see Google Earth image. Llanharan forms the apex and lower part of the claw, while Brynna forms the higher. They are situated at the edge of the Unitary Authority of Rhondda Cynon Taf, formally called Mid Glamorgan, in South Wales, UK.

Use the controls to zoom out and see where we are in relation to the UK as a whole.

A markerllanharan -
llanharan
get directions

Brynna

I found this photo a long time ago on the web. Couldn't find out who took it but thank you to whoever you are. We live just out of sight to the left. Right in the middle you can see a longish light-coloured building. That's the local community centre and play park. I expect one, or both, of my kids are over there right now.

History

The area has a fascinating history but not much is known before coal mining arrived in the early 1880s. This photograph shows the remains of an old church, situated way up in the hills away from the present day villages. Originally dating from the 12th century, it was re-built in the 17th century, and abandoned in the 19th. My feeling is that it is so remote and high up that it was originally a pagan or Celtic place of worship, built on by Christians as are so many of our churches in Britain. There were very few small cottages within walking distance of this church and there is no road at all.

Update: Not confirmed, but I have read recently that there was a church on this site from the 1st century. One local historian has claimed that this could be the resting place of King Arthur, after a cross bearing his name was discovered.

Another view of the ruined church of Peterston-super-Montem

All photos taken by my son and used with permission.
All photos taken by my son and used with permission. | Source

Between the years 1736 and 1740, fourteen marriages were performed at the isolated church - amazing - how did they get everyone up there?

Mining

It's hard to believe now, walking up on the tranquil hills above the villages, but both Llanharan and Brynna were thriving mining towns. The South Rhondda colliery opened in the 1880s and there was a population explosion in 1901; there were at least 600 people living in Brynna in 100 dwellings... of which our house was one. Colliers came from surrounding areas and also from England to work the coal seams and there are many descendants of those miners living in the village today.

The new Eagle public house was opened (replacing the old, small Eagle) to serve the thirsty men after their shifts and a Methodist chapel was built in 1908.

Unfortunately the Eagle closed last year, as the economic downturn took its toll on so many small businesses in these villages. However, it has been purchased and another small business is nesting there manufacturing coops for the growing trend in domestic chicken-keeping.

The building in the photo is part of the remains of the South Rhondda colliery.

The Meiros colliery up above Llanharan was opened around the same time as the South Rhondda near Brynna. Tragedy struck on the 11th November 1891 when two miners and a 15 yr old boy, 'a collier's helper' were killed in a gas explosion.

At its most productive, the mine employed 622 men. The mine was closed around 1938, when it became too expensive and difficult to mine the seam. The land has returned to nature, being wild and open with interspersing clefts of woodland. There is barely anything to indicate that there was ever a mine there.

When we bought our first house, a new property built on a small development on the side of Meiros, we had to have a mining survey done to make sure that there were no tunnels beneath that could cause subsidence.

The best thing to do here is WALK!

This group of photos by AJScapes. Used with permission.
This group of photos by AJScapes. Used with permission.

It does take a bit of effort to get up there but there are so many walks up on our hills to enjoy. The views are breathtaking - on one side you can see right across the Bristol Channel to the North Devonshire and Somerset coastline.

Some people don't like our wind turbines...

You can see the sea from up here

Can you feel how fresh that Welsh air is? Isn't your heart singing with it?
Can you feel how fresh that Welsh air is? Isn't your heart singing with it?

No wonder the men of the valleys want to sing!

Dragon International Film Studios (Valleywood)

We are hoping for another attraction to come soon - Valleywood! Since 2002, the local population has been holding its collective breath for the completion of Dragon Studios - a project headed up by Sir Richard Attenborough - and to be the largest film studio complex in Europe. The studios are to be built on the site of another coal mine, this time the huge open tract of land that was once Llanilid Open Cast on the south side of Llanharan. Building work commenced and several sound studios, the access road and other facilities were completed. Unfortunately it all seems to have ground to a halt and the company, Dragon Studios International have gone into receivership. We are all hoping that it will get sorted out very soon. The area could really do with an economic boost like this and, as the land was being reclaimed, it would certainly not be a blight on the landscape.

The image shows the proposed layout for the studios, covering 1800 acres of former open cast mine.

UPDATE: Spring 2010 Although the studios are not in full use yet, they are currently being leased out to independent production companies. The first film is about to be released, "Ironclad", which dramatises the siege of Rochester Castle - one of the longest and bloodiest battles in English history.

UPDATE: Autumn 2011 All is quiet in Valleywood.

Llanharan Square

Rugby

Llanharan isn't famous for much these days but its rugby club, Llanharan RFC; the 'Black and Blues', is quite renowned.

This is how the club describes the symbolism of their badge:

"The badge is symbolic of the village's history and culture. The four quarters show:

1) A sheaf of corn - pre coal mining Llanharan was very much a pretty agricultural village with its picturesque stone cottages clustered around important buildings such as the church, corn mill and blacksmith, much of the economy related to the needs of the Llanharan House estate.

2) A Llanharan spaniel reputed to be a distinctive breed at a time when the estate also boasted its own pack of hunting hounds.

3) The parish church of St Julius and Aaron, an ancient foundation that boasts a Tudor chalice.

4) A pit head winding gear, reflecting the coal mining that dominated the village for almost a century.

The quarters are separated by a black cross commemorating the Llandow air disaster of March 12th 1950 when eight club members were in the plane returning from the Dublin international, seven of them losing their lives as it crashed on landing. Only Mel Thomas survived and he still lives in the village in Chapel Road. A special memorial adorns the wall of the bar."

Photo: Rumney - 5 Llanharan - 43.

More of Alan's wonderful photographs of Meiros

Storm rising over Brynna

Brynna Woods - Like a huge adventure playpark

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The story-telling place. Sit on the 'telling seat' and mesmerise your young listeners with a magical tale.Beautiful bluebells. A week earlier and this area was swathed in yellow celandines.Negotiating the fallen 'ivy tree'.The best climbing tree!
The story-telling place. Sit on the 'telling seat' and mesmerise your young listeners with a magical tale.
The story-telling place. Sit on the 'telling seat' and mesmerise your young listeners with a magical tale.
Beautiful bluebells. A week earlier and this area was swathed in yellow celandines.
Beautiful bluebells. A week earlier and this area was swathed in yellow celandines.
Negotiating the fallen 'ivy tree'.
Negotiating the fallen 'ivy tree'.
The best climbing tree!
The best climbing tree!

Want to go for a walk with me?

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    • profile image

      Gary The Wiz Edwards 5 months ago

      To be in love was a Walk holding hands up to Caer rocks which set into the mountain top above the old Llanharan Merios colliery.To try to carve your initials and heart into those rock faces for eternity, reading over who had come before Maybe your Brothers, Fathers, Mothers Sisters of Love in those courtship walks praying nobody else was there to steal a sweet kiss or two in the privacy of that God given glorious view knowing that love of your life was holding hands and looking at heaven.

    • myraggededge profile image
      Author

      myraggededge 16 months ago

      Beautiful. Thank you.

    • profile image

      The Brynna Poet 16 months ago

      Twilight gathers pace as we stride forth to face our maker yet to have walked those Llanbad Hills above Brynna is to have looked down upon heaven in all its glory the sunsets, the sunrises come hail and sunshine

      whatever the weather you always know you touched heaven that day looking at the views walking in those hills above Brynna

    • myraggededge profile image
      Author

      myraggededge 18 months ago

      Sorry to be so slow replying, ham. Thanks for leaving a comment and glad that you had a good experience of Brynna and the people who live there. I love Terry Witts' books.

    • profile image

      ham 19 months ago

      I am from the Ogmore valley but was asked to go and play football for the brynna llanharan team met many god friends there and spent a lot of time in Brynna found it to be a very friendly village and the football team always had a good support at home games, still in touch with a few of the old players this was just before Terry Witts wrote his first book about the area I know because our team at the time is the last picture in the football section

    • myraggededge profile image
      Author

      myraggededge 3 years ago

      @Lynn Klobuchar: Only from the bottom! Thanks LynnKK

    • Lynn Klobuchar profile image

      Lynn Klobuchar 3 years ago from Minneapolis, Minnesota

      Beautiful. You get to see this every day? Jealous!

    • profile image

      anonymous 3 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Gary, took me a year to come across your post, sorry. My dad was Glynn Croft, cousin, I believe, to Keith. We lived beside Tommy the blacksmith's shop.

    • myraggededge profile image
      Author

      myraggededge 4 years ago

      @SheilaMilne: Many thanks, Sheila.

    • SheilaMilne profile image

      SheilaMilne 4 years ago from Kent, UK

      Absolutely wonderful. I haven't been to Wales for several years. I must see about a return visit. :)

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: My Grandfather (Tym Cawr) Tom EDWARDS also looked after the horses Underground at Merios, great lover of the Mari Lloyd when I was a lad The White Horses Head fell out the Cupboard on top of me frighting me for Life.

      My Uncle Buster witts Terry Witts the Writer all Miners Merios, LLanharan, Wern Tarrow, and LLandbad, and the Brynna Woods Collerys, I used to Know every single Person in Brynna Now sadly I live in Pattaya Thailand.

      with my Thai wife and our two Children a long way from those days.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Take me back to when I was a kid and the walks with my family all around Llanharan ... thank you!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Enchanting woods at half million pounds each,Brynna woods new development going for gold,ghosts tales of the mine shafts underneath with the labrinth patchwork of Seams of coal where years of hard labor toiled for the welsh Black Gold coal. Under your Feet Run Brynna boys before it gets Dark woods have many a Dark Tale of the past.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Steve

      Sorry not allowed to access Francis Frith web site I am currently China Brynna Boy Gary Edwards was Your Father Kieth (my old Mate Flint)

      ??

    • myraggededge profile image
      Author

      myraggededge 5 years ago

      @anonymous: About a hundred yards from where we are then :-) Glad to reawaken some old memories!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Now living in Canada, I spent my childhood years living across from Brynna church. I can still remember being called home for tea from the football field every evening. Thanks for taking me back!

    • myraggededge profile image
      Author

      myraggededge 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Hope you manage to get here one day, Judith. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      My great great grandfather, Edward GIBBON, was born in LLanharan in 1831. Thank you for giving me an idea about what the area looks like. I would love to visit Wales some day and see the area where my ancestors lived. He left Wales and went to Pennsylvania, USA, and worked in the coal mines. Like Llanharan, the coal mining in that area of Pennsylvania are not much anymore. Some booming coal mining towns are gone now.

      Thank you for your beautiful pictures.

    • jadehorseshoe profile image

      jadehorseshoe 5 years ago

      Another Swell Lens!

    • profile image

      RecipePublishing 5 years ago

      Nice lens.

    • profile image

      LensSeller 6 years ago

      A very good lens with some stunning images on it. It's introduced me to what is clearly a beautiful part of the country and one that I've yet to visit.

    • jptanabe profile image

      Jennifer P Tanabe 6 years ago from Red Hook, NY

      Oh yes, I'd love to join you for a walk over the Welsh hillside. Thanks so much for sharing. Blessed.

    • makingamark profile image

      Katherine Tyrrell 6 years ago from London

      Lovely lens about a lovely place. The photos are stunning.

      Blessed and included in The Best of the UK

    • Spook LM profile image

      Spook LM 6 years ago

      Have always had a soft spot for Wales, comes from having a matron in my dormitory at Junior school, who had the most beautiful singing voice. Loved Wales hosting the rugby World cup and the opening ceremony with all the singing was the best I have ever seen. Whenever I see something about Wales am always reminded of Richard Llewellyn's classic book; 'How green was my valley'. Spellbinding. Blessed by an Angel.

    • sheriangell profile image

      sheriangell 6 years ago

      Your part of the world looks absolutely enchanting - I wish I was there right now for a nice peaceful walk. Beautiful lens - thanks for the tour! Oh and congratulations on your Purple Star!

    • profile image

      resabi 6 years ago

      I had such a lovely time visiting your corner of the world. It's breathtakingly beautiful. Thank you for sharing it and giving a glimpse into your country and your life. This is definitely a feel-good lens. Have to lensroll this one to Welsh Lovespoons. Blessings...

    • Peregrina LM profile image

      Peregrina LM 6 years ago

      I really, really love the photos!

      And it's a great lens. I have to admit I came here because of the name. There's something about Welsh place names that always seems so romantic. It probably has something to do with reading and rereading Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising books a lot when I was growing up in Canada.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      What memories! I was raised in Llanharan from 1938 until I left to join the R.A.F. in 1957.

      Brynna Wood and Meiros were my regular playgrounds. I returned regularly from 1957 until 1961 when I married Joan Griffiths from Pencoed and we left to live in the West Midlands .We have lived near Welshpool since 1963.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      What a wonderful site. My mother and father were from Llanharan and Brynna ,respectively as were both grand parents and it was fascinating to look through this .information, thanks Kathryn

    • Heather426 profile image

      Heather Burns 7 years ago from Wexford, Ireland

      Gorgeous lens and well written travel piece! 5* love the photos

    • profile image

      Qualitee 7 years ago

      You have inspired to me to take a walk to top of mountain. 5*

    • JenOfChicago LM profile image

      JenOfChicago LM 7 years ago

      The photos are amazing! I'd like to visit just to take photos and see these views!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Gorgeous photographs of the areas I spend my lunchtimes cycling and running through. Very much like my birthplace of Yorkshire, but with Rugby instead of puddings. Love standing atop the moor and seeing Newport to the left, Swansea to the right, and England spread across the water in front, all interconnected by the fresh blowing breeze from the teeth of the Atlantic.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Yes, I live here too - I love it here - it;s a beautiful place to bring up our children :)

    • myraggededge profile image
      Author

      myraggededge 7 years ago

      [in reply to steve dexter] Ooh.. I didn't know about that footpath... wondering how I'd get to it. I must get round to mentioning Brynna Woods too... I have some lovely photos that I've taken on our walks there.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Lovely photos and words. I work in London but spend about three days a week in nearby Pencoed. I love taking my bicycle and my dog (she pops in my rucksack) up on those hills and surrounding area. I too think the Windmills are beautyfull (I originally come from the Isle of Wight and think your windmills look as lovely as sail boats on the ocean) Recently I discovered the footpath that goes down the back of the Film studio building and comes out on the old open caste mine. Its such a hudge wilderness. I do hope when its developed they leave lots of room for the wildlife. So strange to see that partialy built dual carriageway ending in the middle o f nowhere...........thanks I am looking at this on a night shift in London and wishing I was up there on the hills!

    • oztoo lm profile image

      oztoo lm 7 years ago

      Beautiful photos and very nice lens. Would sure love to go walking through such lovely countryside.

      We don't seem to walk much in Australia, maybe it's just to hot but growing up in England we walked everywhere.

    • TreasuresBrenda profile image

      Treasures By Brenda 7 years ago from Canada

      Nicely done & blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 7 years ago from United States

      What a beautiful place. It looks so peaceful (except the Rugby) and such specticular pictures!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Yet another reason I want to go back to the UK. To visit you! (And take piccies, natch)

    • Grasmere Sue profile image

      Sue Dixon 7 years ago from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK

      What a Welsh Romantic you are Bev!

      It's a great lens!

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Amazing place to visit. I would love to go there.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 7 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      Looks like an amazing place to visit!

    • profile image

      bdkz 7 years ago

      These photos are amazing!

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 7 years ago

      These beautiful photos and your lovely words have made me want to see this area with my own eyes. I could smell the breeze as I read. Gorgeous!

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