The long lost village of Pwll Du where 'nobody had anything but we were happy'

Money was tight in Pwll Du, but the villagers looked after each other. Credit: Vanished Wales/ITV

High up, in the hills above Blaenavon, stood an entire village that was razed to the ground in the 1960s.

Pwll Du was a traditional mining community dating back to the Industrial Revolution.    

There were rows of terraced houses, a chapel, a school, a welfare hall and a pair of pubs.  

Pwll Du was a traditional mining community dating back to the Industrial Revolution. Credit: Vanished Wales/ITV

Money was tight, but the villagers looked after each other.

Roy Gwilym grew up in Pwll Du.  

“We were all the same,” he recalls.  “Nobody had anything, hardly any money. There was no electricity, no water in the house. You’d go outside to get a bucket of water and it had to be boiled on the coal fire. 

“But we were happy. It’s your roots, isn’t it?”

What the village lacked in luxury, it made up for in panoramic views. The vast open countryside that surrounded Pwll Du was the childhood playground of former resident Robert Long.

“It was a paradise,” he remembers. “There were mountains, valleys, woods and I could run free. That was the making of me, of my personality. Those days have never left me.”

Pwll Du was an old world community in a modern age. But the tide of change was coming.

In 1963, the village was declared a slum. It was pulled down, brick by brick, stone by stone.

The village was declared a slum and taken apart, brick by brick.

Residents were offered new housing further down the valley; housing with indoor plumbing and electricity. 

For some, it was a chance to begin again. For others, it meant the end of their way of life.  

In one of the fields where Pwll Du used to stand, you can still see the ruins of an old cottage. It was the family home of Karen Simmonds. She regularly returns to the site to connect with her past.

“I have such happy memories of this place,” she says. “Dad with his wheelbarrow, and mum with her tin of Welsh cakes, making cups of tea for everybody. That will always be something I think about when I’m here.

“This is where their hearts always were and this is where they wanted their ashes to be scattered, and we honoured their wishes.”

You can see more on this story, and many other lost landmarks, in Vanished Wales. Friday 10th June at 7pm on ITV Cymru Wales. You can also catch up with the series here.