PONTYPOOL (a name corrupted from Pont-ap-Howell) is a town, and under the provisions of the "Local Government Act, 1894," was constituted a civil parish, from the ancient parish of Trevethin. It is 149 miles from London by road and 161 by rail, 18 south-west from Monmouth 8 north from Newport, 9½ south from Abergavenny and 15 from Caerphilly, in the Northern division of the county, Abergavenny hundred, and is the head of a petty sessional division, poor law union and also of a county court district, rural deanery of Blaenau Gwent, archdeaconry of Monmouth and diocese of Llandaff.
It is seated on the acclivities of a, hill rising from the river Avon Lwyd, or Torvaen, over which is a stone bridge of three arches, and is on the edge of the great basin of coal and ironstone, which stretches westward into Pembrokeshire.
The Great Western Railway Company have two stations here, in Crane street and Clarence street respectively The Crane Street station is in the centre of the town, on the line from Newport to Blaenavon, with a branch to Brynmawr and Merthyr, and is in connection with the London and North Western system. The Clarence Street station, a little to the south of the town, is on the line from hence to the Vale of Neath and Swansea. Pontypool Road station is about 1½ miles south of the town, in the parish of Panteg. The station at Crane street was enlarged in 1894, at a total cost, including new sidings &c of upwards of £l0,000; considerable alterations have also been made at Clarence Street station .
The town was governed by a Local Board from July 17 1863, until the "Local Government Act, 1894" (56 & 57 Vict. c. 73) established the present Urban District Council of eighteen members.
The town is paved and lighted and supplied with both gas and water by the Pontypool Gas and Water Company, established in 1850, incorporated in 1871. There are 4 reservoirs, having a total capacity of about 12¼ million gallons, including one at Cwm-Avon, holding about 7 million gallons, and pumping plant was also erected at Cwm-Avon in 1894 for supplying the higher portion of the district. There are five springs, two at Cwm-Avon, one at Nantymailor and two at the Folly, supplying Pontypool, Abersychan, Talywain, Garndiffaith, Varteg, Griffithstown, Sebastopol and New Inn. The Gas Works supply Pontypool, Griffithstown and Sebastopol . The Pontypool and District Electric Lighting Power Co. Limited, formed in 1893, has works in Park road, and several of the streets and shops are now supplied with the electric light.
The police duties are discharged by the Monmouthshire constabulary, and the superintendent has an office at the Police Station adjoining the Town Hall.
The church of St James is a building of stone, in the Gothic style, consisting of chancel, nave, north, south and centre aisles, south-west and west porches and a western belfry containing one bell. It was restored in 1877, at. a cost of about £2,500, and has 600 sittings, l00 being free. The living is a vicarage, net income £66, derived from the endowment and pew rents, in the gift of the vicar of Llanover, and held since 1891 by the Revd. Joshua Evans, of St. David's College, Lampeter.
St John's Mission Church at Tranch is a building of stone, and will seat 280 persons. St Cadoc's Mission Church on the Osborne road will seat 100. Both are served by the clergy of Pontypool. St. Matthew's Mission Church, Victoria road, an iron building seating 300 persons, is served by the clergy of Panteg. St Alban's Catholic church, George street, erected in 1838, was restored and enlarged and a gallery added in 1881-2 at a cost of £600: it will seat 500 persons: attached is a presbytery.
The Presbyterian church, High street, erected in 1866, is a plain building of stone and will seat 200 persons. The Wesleyan chapel, High street, was erected in 1860, in the Gothic style, at a cost of £2,300, and contains 900 sittings. The Baptist chapel, Crane street, erected in 1847, is a building of freestone, in a modern Classic style, and contains sittings for about 600 people. The Pen-y-garn Baptist tabernacle, Crane street, erected in. 1835, is a fine building of stone and will seat about 750 persons; the interior was siderably altered and improved in 1884, at a cost of £1,200.
Pen-y-garn Baptist tabernacle, Pen-y-garn, was erected In 1727, restored in 1888, and is now used burial services only. Trosnant Baptist church, Lower Bridge street, erected in 1776, was rebuilt in 1820, and renovated in 1885.
The Congregational chapel, Nicholas street, erected in 1855, is a fine building of stone, with 760 sittings. The Primitive Methodist chapel, Park terrace, a stone building in the Gothic style, was erected 1877, at a cost of £2,200. The United Free Methodist chapel, Crumlin street, was erected in 1814, and will seat 200. The Town Hall, in the Hanbury road, is a building of stone, in the Italian style, erected at the sole cost of late Capel Hanbury Leigh esq. of Pontypool Park, lord-lieutenant of the county ; it was opened for public business on the 5th January, 1856, and is now vested in the Urban District council. The Assembly Room in the hall is used for concerts &c. The Committee Room is available for meetings.
The Market House, in Market street, erected 1846, was rebuilt in 1893-4, and opened Dec. 1st, 1894; it is in the Tudor style, and has an area of 6,700 square feet. The total cost, incluing cost of site and acquirement of tolls, enfranchisement and parliamentary expenses amounted to £22,2 80. The market days are Wednesdays and Saturdays, and fairs are held on the last Wednesday in February, April 2nd and 22nd, July 5th and October 10th, for pleasure, horses, cattle, sheep and cheese. The Cattle Market, in Park roadstructed in 1899,at a cost of £2,800, has an area of 3½ acres, and pens for 250 Cattle, 3,500 sheep and 200 pigs. The land was given by J. C. Hanbury esq.
The Hanbury Assembly Rooms and Arcade in the Osborne road, were opened April, 1893, at a cost of £6,000. The former will seat 850 persons, and contains a platform or stage, cloak rooms &c. The Constitutional Club, Osborne road, built in 1894, a costof £1,600, contains an assembly room holding 250 persons, and reading, billiard and committee rooms, &c.
The Fire Brigade, instituted in March, 1881, consists of a captain, lieutenant, and 12 firemen. At Pontypool are stationed the 3rd and 4th Volunteer Battalions of the South Wales Borderers; the A Company of the 3rd Battalion, formed in 1854, has 150 rank and file; the headquarters are at Osborne road. The B Company of the 4th Battalion, formed in 1860, has 94 rank and file; the headquarters are at the Crown yard, George street.
There are numerous forges and iron mills within a short distance of the town, for the manufacture of the heaviest iron work and for the making of tin plates. The chief articles of trade are coal and iron of every quality and description, with which the neighbouring hills abound; ample facility of conveyance is afforded both by the numerous railways and by the Monmouthshire canal to the docks at Newport.
The New Recreation Ground, Catholic lane, opened in 1893, is available for sports of all kinds, and includes an excellent cycling track.
Pontypool Park is the seat of John Capel Hanbury esq., D.L.., J.P. < >On the verge of this park is a lofty stone building, used as a look-out or observatory, from the top of which several counties may be seen.
The area of the parish and Urban District is 234 acres, rateable value, £20,861. The population in 1891 was 5,842.
Post, M.O. & T.O., T.M.O., Express Delivery, Parcel Post, S.B. & Annuity & Insurance Office.
Postmaster, Wm. Hy. Richards at Osborne road Post Office. Letters arriving from London, South Wales, general & North of England delivered at 7 a.m. & from London, South Wales & general, at 9.15 a.m. ; London, South Wales & general & Blaenavon, at 1.45 p.m. & London, South Wales & general, at 5.30 p.m.
to Abersychan , Blaenavon, Garndiffaith Pontnewydd, Talywain, Varteg, *Croesyceilog & *Penperlenny &c. at 4.30 a.m.
to *Newport, general & South Wales, at 7.l5 & 9.15 a.m.
to *Garndiffaith, Talywain & Varteg, 1245 p.m.
to *Blaenavon, 2.45 p.m.; to *London, Newport, South Wales & general, 4.20 p.m.
to *Scotland, North of England, Ireland & North Wales, 7.45 p.m.; late fee, 8 p.m.
to London, Newport, South Wales & general, night mail, 8,45 p.m., late fee, 9 pm. On sundays, 8.30 p.m., late fee 8.45 p.m.
Marked thus *: these mails are not dispatched on Sundays. There is only one delivery on Sundays, at 7 p.m.
Parcels arrive at 7 & 9.15 a.m., & 1.40 & 5.30 pm ; dispatched at 11.10 a.m. & 12.45, 1.15, 2.45, 4.20, 7, 8, 8.45 & 9 p.m.
Money order office & savings bank open daily from 7 am to 9 pm; telegraph, 8 am to 8 pm Snndays; open 8 to 10 a.m.
Town Sub-Post Office & M.O.O., S.B., & Insurance & Annuity Office, 81 High street
Thomas Brown, sub-postmaster. Dispatch, 6.5 a.m.; 10.50 a.m., 4 p.m., 6.40 p.m., 7.40 p.m. , Sundays, 7.40 p.m.
Town Sub-Post Office & M.O.O., S.B., & Insurance & Annuity Office, Clarence street
Mrs. Margaret J. Davies, sub-postmistress. Dispatch, 6.20 a.m.; 11.5 a.m., 3.50 p.m., Sundays, 7.55 p.m.