Ynysybwl is a village in south Wales, United Kingdom.
It is situated within the county borough of Rhondda Cynon Taff, roughly 20 miles North-North-East of Cardiff, 4 miles North of Pontypridd and 10 miles South of Merthyr Tydfil.
Before 1996 it was part of the Cynon Valley district of Mid Glamorgan, and is historically part of Glamorgan.
Ynysybwl itself is situated in the Clydach Valley, flanked on either side by the Rhondda Valley and Cynon Valley. The market town of Pontypridd lies to the south at the meeting point of these three valleys and to the north is the expansive Llanwynno forestry.
The name Ynysybwl (Ynys-y-Bwl to be exact) means in English either "Field of Rock" or "Field Hill" either of which would aptly describe the hills to the Eastern side of the village (on which the colliery was sited) as it is flanked on each side by rivers and streams. The name itself is pronounced Un-iss-u-bull in English. However, the explanation of the name given above is almost certainly incorrect.'Ynys' means an 'island' or a 'meadow' as ancient streams were not in fixed channels and 'islands' of grass were common except during flooding. There is more controversy over the 'bwl' part of the name, as it is said to derive either from 'pwll' or pool , or from 'bwlch', a pass between hills. Given the topography of this narrow valley, the latter is most probably correct. It is also wrong, as given above, to double-hypenate 'Ynys-y-bwl', as this is contrary to Welsh usage; there are different roads signs with these two spellings, which have given rise to controversy!
Until the 1880s, Ynysybwl was simply a collection of small local farms and meadows in a quiet and completely rural valley. The rich seam of coal that lies beneath the surface had thus far only been tapped to the amount required to supply these local farms.
That was until 1884 when the Lady Windsor colliery first began development, opening in 1886. As with most mining areas in south Wales, a local community immediately sprang up around the colliery. Many of the houses were built in typical terraced fashion by the mine owners in order to house its workers and their families. Most were built on the opposing (Western) side of the valley.
During its peak period the colliery employed around 1500 people directly although most of the 6000-7000 village community relied upon the pit in one way or another. The pit thrived throughout the first half of the 20th century, becoming one of a number of very successful operations in south Wales at that time.
However as time went on, coal mining fell out of favour with many people, including politicians, and the Lady Windsor colliery did not escape the troubles that plagued the industry during the miners strikes of the early 1980s. The pit was finally closed in 1988 leaving a much damaged community.
Despite this the village has survived, people finding work in the newly developing industries in nearby Pontypridd, Treforest, Aberdare, Caerphilly, Merthyr Tydfil and Cardiff.
This, coupled with the replacement of the pit as the village focus by local churches, chapels, clubs and associations, has lead to a renewed interest in regeneration of the village. This has reached a peak so far in the formation of the Ynysybwl Regeneration Partnership, an umbrella group formed to help achieve funding and organisation for activities within the village.
Today, Ynysybwl is the base for an extraordinary number of clubs and associations for such a small village, boasting rugby, football, netball, bowls, cricket, a pony club, male voice choir, a brass band (Lady Windsor Colliery Band) and sections of the Brownies and Air Training Corps.
The nearby Llanwynno forestry also boasts the successful Cym Clydach Outdoor Activity Group, an outdoor pursuits centre run by people from the village, and a newly developing cycle path that will form part of the local Taff Trail.
People, Places and Events
As with many Industrial Revolution-born villages, Ynysybwl is a community based around a number of key places.
Not least amongst them are the local Trerobart and Glanffrwd schools that cater for over 450 pupils. The Recreation Ground is the home to many of the village's sporting clubs, hosting rugby, football, cricket and bowls as well as incorporating a large playing area. And of course there are the local drinking establishments, The Roberttown, Constitutional Club and the Old Ynys-y-Bwl Inn.
In its time this small village has been called home by a number of well known names in the world of sport and entertainment.
Most notably perhaps is the late and great darts legend Leighton Rees (first ever World Champion in 1978). Although following him closely would be Wales' most-capped hooker Garin Jenkins.
Other famous residents have included Tommy Scourfield (rugby, capped for Wales in 1930), Staff Jones (rugby, capped for Wales in 1983 and toured with the British Lions to New Zealand in 1985), Dale McIntosh (rugby, Pontypridd RFC captain), Clive Pritchard (rugby, Welsh team manager 1999) and Alun "Barrie" Davies (rugby, Welsh team coach).
The largest regular event to take place around Ynysybwl is the regular passage of the Network Q Rally of Great Britain through the Llanwynno forestry.
A further traditional event is the running of the Nos Galan Races, in tribute to the legend of Guto Nyth Brân