The village of Rhydyfro stands on the main road from Pontardawe to Cwmamman on the right of the river Clydach. The meaning of the word is unusual. "Rhyd" means 'shallow' or 'river crossing' or the English word 'ford', while "Bro" means a piece of unpopulated land. The river Clydach has been flowing in the same bed for thousands of years, and during that time, the land on either side has not shifted, so the water has not flooded it, and it has heard its constant murmuring over the years as it goes on its way. Rhydyfro was a small village at the time the first place of worship was built ---- only a little cottage here and there, and in these dwelt nearly every sort of craftsmen, among them the following:-
Richard Davies, the tailor and bard;
John James (Shoni the blacksmith);
Jacob the weaver, and
Philip Davies, the tailor and bard (son of the above Richard Davies).
Traces of old factories can be seen there to this day, and they are not likely to be removed, as they are on the side of the river. As well as the various craftsmen living there, there were, and still are several farmhouses on both sides of the river in the direction of Cwmgorse and Cwmegel.
The main part of the village stood at the place where the Egel and Gors joined to form the river Clydach. The Clydach flows into the Tawe and divides the parishes of Llangiwc and Rhyndwy-Clydach. Below the village is Cwm Clydach, deep and narrow. Further up it forms a letter "Y", with Cwmegel spreading to the right, and Cwmgorse to the left, with Garth mountain like a king on his throne keeping the two from coming across each other.
To the North-East stands the mountain of Gwrhyd and Llangiwc and on the western side stands Gellionen and Baran, where Roger Howells served as minister and schoolmaster.
In Rhydyfro there are several shops and two taverns -- "The Royal Oak", the home of John James the blacksmith, and "The Travellers Rest", where David Lewis, one of the district's oldest men, lives. There has been a Post Office here for years.
Education in Rhydyfro
When the church in Baran was incorporated in 1805, Roger Howels, Nantymoel, was appointed its minister, and he kept a school there and later in Nantymoel House. The children of Rhydyfro went there. One of the children who attended the school at Nantymoel House lives in Alltwen today --- Evan Thomas (Evan Shon).
After Saron was built, a William Griffiths came to keep a school there, and afterwards moved to "Tai'r Heol" houses in the upper part of Rhydyfro near. Cwmclyd, and it closed down around 1849 -1850.
The schoolmaster went down to Pontardawe to Cae 'r Doc school, and the children of Rhydyfro had to walk there after him. In 1856, a National school was built in Pontardawe, and the Rhydyfro children had to walk there. With each improvement their journey became longer, until, in 1876, the Board school was built to serve the place. The schoolmaster from then until now is Mr A.W.Owens, along with assistants.
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