(Castell-nedd) is a town
situated in the principal area
of Neath Port Talbot
with a population
of approximately 45,898 in 2001. It is located on the river of the same name
Historically, Neath was the crossing place
of the River Neath
and has existed as a settlement since at least Roman
times, following the Roman invasion
of what was to become the Roman province
of Britannia Superior
after the 1st century AD. The Antonine Itinerary
(c. 2nd Century CE) names only nine places in Roman Wales
, one of them being Neath.
There is evidence of undated prehistoric
settlements on the hills surrounding the town, which were probably Celtic
. Human remains were discovered away at Paviland Cave on the Gower peninsula
dated 24,000 BC proving that humans lived in the region during the last Ice Age
. Once known as the "Red Lady of Paviland
", the remains are those of a man. Neath was on the southern edge of the ice sheet with the Vale of Neath
being a glaciated valley
life migrated to the area following the recession of the ice around 15,000 years ago.
The Romans used the name Celt (outsiders) for the unfederated European tribes outside of their empire and the inhabitants of the Neath area prior and during the Roman occupation were members of the Celtic Silures tribe. Nidum is the name of the Roman fort discovered close to a housing estate, known as Roman Way, on the west side of the River Neath whereas Neath town is on the east side of the river. The fort covered a large area which now lies under the playing fields of Dŵr-y-Felin Comprehensive School.
The Roman occupation of Britain ended in the 5th century AD and at that time Christianity was spreading from the east. St Illtyd ], a prominent Celtic warrior and Celtic saint who became a Christian was a major force in establishing Christianity within Wales having taught St David, the patron saint of Wales.
St Illtyd visited the Neath area and established a settlement in what is now known as Llantwit on the northern edge of the town. The church of St. Illtyd was built at this settlement and was enlarged in Norman times. The Norman and pre Norman church structure remains intact and active to day within the Church in Wales. The Welsh language name for Neath is Castell-nedd, referring to the Norman Neath Castle, which is close to the shopping centre.
Neath was a market town that expanded with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century with new manufacturing industries of iron, steel and tinplate. The Mackworth family, who owned the Gnoll Estate were prominent in the town's industrial development. Coal was mined extensively in the surrounding valleys and the construction of canals and railways made Neath a major transportation centre and the Evans & Bevan family were major in the local coal mining community as well as owning the Vale of Neath Brewery. Silica was mined in the Craig-y-Dinas area of Pontneddfechan, after Quaker entrepreneur William Weston Young invented the blast-furnace silica firebrick, later moving brick production from the works at Pontwalby to The Green in Neath. The town continued as a market trading centre with a municipal cattle market run by W.B.Trick. Industrial development continued throughout the 20th century with the construction by British Petroleum of a new petroleum refinery at Llandarcy.
The River Neath is a navigable estuary and Neath was a river port until recent times. The heavy industries are no more with the town being a commercial and tourism centre. Attractions for visitors are the ruins of the Cistercian Neath Abbey, the Gnoll Park and Neath Indoor Market.
The Wales Yearbook (2000) states that 55,525 people live in Neath.
Famous People from Neath
was staged at the Abbey Stadium in Neath in 1962. The Welsh Dragons, led by New Zealander Trevor Redmond
, raced with some success in the Provincial League
but, because of local problems, a number of the "home" fixtures were raced at St Austell
. The Dragons introduced the Australian rider Charlie Monk to British speedway. After a season at Long Eaton Archers
, Monk went on to have considerable success at Glasgow
. The team also featured South African Howdy Cornell.
The previous borough council
was absorbed into the larger unitary authority
of Neath Port Talbot
on April 1 1996
. The town encompasses the electoral wards
of Neath East
, Neath North
and Neath South
The Town and the surrounding area is represented at Westminster by Peter Hain MP (Labour) and in the National Assembly for Wales by Gwenda Thomas AM (Labour).
Dwr-y-Felin Comprehensive School
is situated in the outskirts of the town as is a campus of Neath Port Talbot College
(which was previously Neath College). There is also the Cefn Saeson comprehensive school situated in the village of Cimla
near the Crynallt primary school
. Two other comprehensive schools serve the town - Llangatwg in Cadoxton and Cwrt Sart in Briton Ferry.
Neath is served by the South Wales Main Line
at Neath railway station
in the heart of the town. Services operate to Bridgend
, Cardiff Central
, Bristol Parkway
and London Paddington
to the east and Swansea
and West Wales
to the west.
Neath bus station is at Victoria Gardens, near the railway station. National Express services call at Neath at the railway station.
From Victoria Gardens, First Cymru provides direct inter-urban services to nearby Swansea and Port Talbot. The A465 skirts the town to the north east and provides a link to the M4 motorway.
The town is served by Cardiff International Airport, which can be accessed by rail by changing at Bridgend railway station and by road from J33 (Cardiff West) of the M4 motorway. The airport provides scheduled, charter, domestic and international flights.
There are plans to regenerate around of land in and around Neath town centre in the near future. The civic centre will be redeveloped as a new shopping centre. The Gwyn Hall
will be re-built after having been gutted by a fire. The area around the Milland Road industrial estate will be re-developed along with the area around the Neath Canal
In March 2008 - the county's new radio station, Afan FM, announced plans to turn on a new transmitter dedicated to the Neath area in the Summer. It's been recently confirmed that this will transmit on 97.4FM and will give residents of Neath their first taste of the Borough's new local radio station - which already transmits to the neighbouring area of Port Talbot on 107.9FM.