The name "Aberfan" comes from the 'Fan' stream that runs through
the area, into the river Taff.
A small Celtic hill-top settlement is believed to have existed
near Aberfan during the fifth Century. During the preceding years
Aberfan was made up entirely of farmland. The area was farmed right
through the Middle Ages, and well into the 19th century.
Hafod Tanglwys Farm
This ancient land holding, located between Troedyrhiw and Aberfan
is believed to have been the summer residence of Tanglwys, the
daughter of the 5th Century Welsh Lord Brychan and sister of Tydfil
and Rhun. It consisted of two farmsteads Hafod Tanglwys Isaf
(Lower) and Hafod Tanglwys Uchaf (Upper). According to legend
Tydfil was travelling to Hafod Tanglwys Farm when she was pursued
and murdered by a band of marauding Picts.
During the middle ages, other farms were established in the area,
namely Ynys-y-gored and Pantglas Farm.
Developing into a Mining Village
The nearby Merthyr Vale Colliery was in production by 1875 and
after that Aberfan quickly developed and became almost exclusively
inhabited by colliers and their families. Many of the houses and
buildings in the town date to the 1880's including Smyrna, Capel
Aberfan, Bethania and Zion, as well as several shops, pubs and
The Aberfan Disaster
On Friday 21st October 1966, 144 people were killed when the coal
tips from the Merthyr Vale Colliery slipped down the mountain and
buried Pantglas School, twenty houses and a farm in the village of
Of the 144 people killed 116 were children, most of them between
the ages of seven and ten. Despite the desperate rescue mission
that followed, just a handful of children were recovered alive from
the rubble. About half of the children from Pantglas School were
killed, along with five of their teachers; it was the last day of
school before the half term break.
The collapse of the tips was caused by a build up of water in a
stream running underneath the tip itself. At the Tribunal Inquiry
for the Aberfan Disaster, responsibility for the disaster was
attributed to the National Coal Board, claiming that the disaster
was a result "not of wickedness, but of ignorance, ineptitude and a
failure of communications."
The Aberfan memorial garden now stands on the site of Pantglas
School. It was built to commemorate the 144 people who died in the
Aberfan disaster of 1966.
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