BRIDGENDCategory: Land + People
For tourists who wish to become acquainted with both the industrial and agricultural districts of Glamorganshire, as well as with its beauty spots and its places of historical or antiquarian interest, the pleasant market town of Bridgend is a most convenient and desirable holiday resort.
Situated in the southern part of the county, 20 miles by rail from Cardiff and 25 from Swansea, between these two great South Wales seaports, it is on the Great Western main line from Paddington to Fishguard, has an excellent service of trains and motorbuses, and occupies an ideal central position, from which visitors can, with the minimum of cost and inconvenience, come into contact with the varied life, industries, and natural beauties of one of the most fascinating and important counties of Great Britain.
But apart from ther facilities which it offers to the tourist who is a student of the peoples and localities which he visits, Bridgend and its immediate neighbourhood have many attractions. The town is surrounded by a countryside of great natural beauty. Only 3 miles from the charming shores of the Bristol Channel or Severn Sea, and on the western borders of the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan, which is known as a “Garden of Wales”, the town has all the advantages of the open country, while the typical South Wales mining valleys, with their teeming populations of colliery workers, are only a few miles away, within easy reach of visitors who are interested in industrial and social conditions or are curious to see the famous Welsh steam-coal pits.
Yet those busy valleys are not sufficiently near to impart to Bridgend itself any of the grimy characteristics of a mining community. Bridgend, in fact, is a favourite residential town as well as a marketing and trading centre.
The statistics of population for the past twenty years show a steady increase. This is due to the very favourable situation for marketing and trading purposes which the town occupies, near the entrance to the Llynfi, Ogmore, and Garw Valleys (which form one of the most prosperous coalmining areas in South Wales), and in touch with the fertile agricultural district of the Vale of Glamorgan, which stretches away to the east and south-east as far as Barry and Cardiff. With the exception of a foundry, wagon-repairing shops, limestones quarries, Bridgend has no industrial works. The town is both a marketing, shopping and goods-distributing centre for the neighbouring industrial and agricultural districts, and a place of residence for trading and professional people, with a number of county residences within a few miles. A particularly big business is done by provision merchants, both wholesale and retail, vast quantities of goods being delivered by motor lorries to the mining valleys and the Vale of Glamorgan. The River Ogmore, which provides good trout fishing, and still has some reputation for salmon, runs through the centre of the town, dividing it into two parts, known respectively as Oldcastle and Newcastle. Oldcastle, on the east of the river, and spreading along its banks, is said to take its name from a Norman castle — the first of the two built here — of which all traces are completely lost. Newcastle covers sloping ground on the west of the river, parts of it being at an elevation of nearly 200 feet. Behind the conspicuous church of St. Illtyd, on the edge of a cliff, stand the remains of the later of the two Norman castles.
Though most of the buildings in Bridgend are modern the town dates at least from Norman times, though at that time it was much smaller and less important than its neighbour City. Leland described it in the sixteenth century as “a good market town standing on Ogor”.
The South Wales Regional Survey on Housing has issued a report in which it is proposed to make Bridgend a “dormitory”, or residential town, of about four times its present size, for wrorkers in the cramped and overcrowded mining valleys, transport for these new residents to and from their work being provided by trains and mo- tor-buses.
The Welsh name for Bridgend is Pen-y-bont, the literal translation of which is “Head of the Bridge”, and the town has a tradition that its ancient motto was Pen-y-bont, Pen-y-byd — Head of the Bridge, Head of the World! But Bridgend residents, though like most Welsh folk they have a strong sense of local patriotism, are withal modest, and will advance this as a humorous story rather than as a serious claim.
(From Official Guide to’ Bridgend)