Pwlldu - A history of a small Hamlet no longer there!! Back to Home Page



Now a place that to all intents and purposes no longer exists - Or does it? My Gwilliam ancestors lived there a good few years. I intend to find out what it was like to live there and the recreational things that they did, etc.

To start this page, I am going to tell you about my first experience of Pwlldu. 

On Monday 10th of February 2003, My son Peter and I went to Govilon where my Gwilliams worshipped at The Christ Church, Llanwenarth Ultra. They were married, Christened and Buried there. I could not fathom out until now how they managed to get to this Church from Pwlldu! Read on and all will be revealed!

I took a Photo of the Church for my web site, as well as a couple of headstones of my GGGranparents, William and Susannah and Williams brother and wife, Charles and Bathsheba. (Im not sure whether they will come out, as they were not very eligible). These photo's will be placed on the page for Govilon.

Peter and I decided that we would go up to Blaenavon by way of the long mountain road. Not sure of the distance yet, (I will have to go back and check on that). As we got to the top I noticed the turning for Pwlldu. We went along this road, passing what looked to be derelict sheds. There was a pub on the right hand side, (in what looked like a dip or glen?) called The Lamb and Fox. There was an area of concrete to the left that looked like it may have been where some of the houses were.

Instead of turning around we thought that we may as well carry on along the road and see where we end up!! The road got a bit narrower and in the middle of it was a lot of stones and shingle that must have fallen from the mountain! We turned a corner and the looked to the left of us. The view took our breath away!! We could see right across the valley; we could make out the Heads of the Valley road going from Abergavenny. The problem then became apparent to us when we looked down!! A shear drop!!!! My stomach turned and I nearly froze! I managed to keep going by shear will power! Very slowly we got to the bottom of the valley to find that we were back at the Church in Govilon!!

My mystery is now solved! They came down this very dangerous and what must have been back then, mountain track. (It has been resurfaced over the years!), just as well, me thinks!

Barbara sent this titbit of info for us!
I could picture the very road you were on - we spent a week
in Govilon last year, visited Pwlldu since that's where my 2xgt grandmother
died, and came down exactly the same road as you.  Ian, my husband, was
driving so I was on that outside and, boy was I scared!!  And I didn't dare
get my camera out in case I put Ian off.  What was even more worrying were
the places where there had been rock falls - I kept thinking "what if the
edge of the road gives way?"

But we survived and hopefully sometime soon, I shall manage to get some
photographs of the general area up on my web site.  (You are very welcome to use the ones in the photo album, just mention where you got them and also put the captions to the photos as they came with them).
Below are some details that I have recieved, thanks again,  to Barbara on the Monmouthshire mailing list.  I hope that Bryan does not mind us using these details! 
The 1901 Trade Directory (on Bryan's site at ) says
"PWLL-DU is a hamlet in the parish of Llanwenarth Ultra"

Bradney's History of Monmouthshire (Abergavenny Hundred, p350) mentions
"the villages of Pwll-du (the Black Pit) and Garn-ddyrys (the entangled
cairn or heap of stones)..." within the description of the parish of

So I'd suggest that small village/hamlet within the larger parish of
Llanwenarth is about accurate - even Govilon was only described as a
large/considerable village.

I've tried working out how many households there were there, but the
enumerators have taken different routes in 1881 and 1891 so it's
difficult to identify what is actually Pwlldu and what is in Garn-ddyrys.

Hope this is some help anyway.

Best wishes,

Al and Kay sent this email to me:-
See "Exploring Blaenavon I L World Heritage Site" book by Chris Barber.
which has a description and  sketch panorama on Pwlldu "the forgotten
village" You can almost count the number of dwellings.
I remember it was a small village on either side of the road from Keeper's
pond to Gilwern Hill.

Garnddyrus was  across the cwm on either side of the Aberavenny Road  and
centred on The Queen
Vicoria Pub where the tramroad from Pwlldu quarry crossed that road.There
were quite a number of dwellings which could be approximately counted from
the 1851 census.It was a community rather than a village built specially to
house workers at the Forge. It has been almost completely destroyed.

As far as the Lamb pub is concerned, the present occupant is the third
generation of his family to hold the licence and would know more than anyone
else the full story of the village.
Thankyou Al and Kay, very interesting!
Al also wrote:-
The pub was always called The Lamb but for some years it has been renamed
The Lamb and Fox.
The hair raising road has affected us all like that. In my father's time it
was called "New found out "
All the best

My Second visit!!
This visit I took along my partner Robert.
I have taken a photo of just one of the views there.  We parked the car up and walked a way, until we came to the area where we took the photo.  Robert threatened to push me over the side, so I thought uh! uh!  I don't think so!!  So I didn't take him too far along 'That' road.  I have also taken a photo of the Lamb and Fox!  These photo's are at the moment off line.
While having a look at the outside of the pub, someone came out to tell us that the pub was closed as his father was away.  I explained to him that we were interested in the history of Pwlldu and he invited us to have a look around the inside.  It is quite old and there are a few photo's and drawings similar if not the same, as the ones that are already in the album.  He told us that we were welcome to go back at any time when his father gets back.  They will be open sometimes on a Sunday afternoon in the summer!  Guess where I will be then?
We are going to make a day of it and take a picnic with us.  It is such a shame that there is so little left of this place.  It could be made to be quite a tourist attraction!

The following email was sent to me:-
Hi Hazel

My great-grandfather, Charles Vaughan, son of Thomas Vaughan, was born in Pwlldu circa 1826. Unfortunately I have been unable to find out any other information about either of them as data about the area is sparse. I would love to know if you have any suggestions.

[email protected]

I went to the library today in relation to a possible ordinance survey map of Pwlldu.  As you know I am collecting any relvant data on Pwlldu.  I did not find a map, however I did come accross some photographs that were to me unique.  They were of the pictures that we already have on Pwlldu.  I will add what they wrote about on the page with the pictures at a later date.
In the book called Blaenavon Through the Years written by Malcolm Thomas and John Lewis:- 
Page 9.  is a picture taken about 1960 where the shop on the left is called Brigg & Gwillims (Drapers).
Page 106.  Garn-y-erw Soccer Team of the 1950's there is a photo of Dick Gwillym last on the right at the back.
Page 114. Picture of the Blaenavon Home guard Officers of 1942 in the backrow first on the left is Mr Gwillim.
Page 116. Picture of the old Age Pensioners Hall when it was opened on 2nd December 1957, one of the trustees was a Mr George Gwilliam.

The Residents of Pwlldu

The following was sent to my by Daniel Newton.

I’ve recently been researching my family tree and stumbled upon you site in the process. I was particularly intrigued reading your story about the lost village as it brings me to mind of the time when I was little and followed what sounds like the same overgrown mountain track.

You mention a couple of places that bring back fond memories. My grandmother (now 82) spent her childhood living in Garndyris and talks of it frequently. Although often holidaying with my family in Govilon, I myself have only visited Garndyris once (in 2000) when my great uncle died and we went to visit the now derelict site. I shall speak more of my great uncle in a moment. From what I can gather, Garndyris was more like a Hamlet rather than a village, with a short row of houses and a pub (The Queen) where my nan and her parents and siblings used to live. The landlord actually lived in Govilon. In fact, even after the war when the nan and granddad got married they lived in a flat above the pub. They were even both there on the night the floor from the function room above fell through. My great grandparents were named William and Florence Hill and my great grandmothers maiden name was Guard. They had ten children including Valda, my grandmother.

As for the Lamb Public House, that has been in the hands of the Lewis family for three generations. I believe a Lewis still owns it, although living in Lincolnshire I am not quite up to date with happenings. The great uncle I spoke of earlier was a Mr Cyril Lewis (he married my grandmothers older sister) and his brother was once The Lambs landlord and his nephew was certainly in charge in the 1990’s. Despite its barren location, The Lamb still had a fantastic atmosphere and served excellent food upon my last visit. I believe the path you took was commonly known as “the coffers pass” at the time as it was where coffins were brought down from the mountain above. Hence its ending at the church. Eventually both Garndyris and Pwlldu lost their populations when a spate of new housing was erected in Govilon itself.