Vanished Wales: Why this historic village was reduced to just a handful of houses

Archive shows the village when it was once vibrant and teaming with life

In the beautiful Sirhowy Valley lies a village that’s utterly unique. 

It’s partly demolished, partly intact, with gaping holes where buildings once stood.

Welcome to Troedrhiwgwair, where - for more than a century - rows of tightly packed terraced houses hugged the mountainside.

Built in 1863 to house the workers of the local collieries and iron works, it was once busy and vibrant - consisting of 96 houses and 500 residents.

The village was once home to a community of 500 people. Credit: ITV Wales

The Thomas family have links to the village that go back generations.

"Oh it was an amazing place to grow up", remembers Gerald Thomas.

"We had all this wilderness as our playfield. Everybody knew everybody and nobody locked their houses.

"They used to go to town on the bus, they had a bus every half an hour, and they wouldn’t lock their houses. They’d just shut the door and off they’d go.

"Totally amazing place", he added.

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The story of how this historic village was reduced to just a handful of houses begins in 1973.  

The mountain behind Troedrhiwgwair was surveyed by the local council, who deemed it unsafe.  

The villagers were told to move out in case of a landslip.  The mountain never did move, but many families did.  

By the mid ‘80s, the village was in a sorry state.  But the remaining residents refused to leave - and Brian Gardner was one of them.

"We are looking at a history of this village that went back 100 odd years", Brian told ITV Wales.

"We knew the mountain, we were people who lived on this mountain, me and families before us, because most of us had come from families who had been here right the way from the time the damn village was built."

When the council proposed moving the last residents out - and  demolishing Troedrhiwgwair altogether - there was outrage.

"Troedrhiwgwair would have been wiped off the map, no doubt about it if we hadn’t done what we did", said Brian.

"Like soldiers in a battle. All the people who left this village, they came back as our supporters. People who had gone out of the village and gone from here, people from various guises."

In 1988 a public enquiry found in favour of the residents, and Troedrhiwgwair was spared.

Today the village consists of just 12 houses. Credit: ITV Wales/Vanished Wales

  But the empty buildings were eventually pulled down, leaving terraced streets with just 12 houses.

Today it’s hard to imagine the vibrancy of this village, in its heyday.   

But Troedrhiwgwair still stands - and its rich history will live on for generations.

You can see more on this story, and many other lost landmarks, in Vanished Wales. Friday 20th May at 7pm on ITV Cymru Wales. You can also catch up with the series here.