ll the Heads of the Valleys towns are different, moulded by the varying landscapes, by their residents through the ages and the ironmasters who built the ironworks. Every town has its own charm, its own character, but every one has a common bond - iron and coal. However, it must be said that Tredegar is the jewel: a unique valley town that can boast its own place in history. Tredegar is the birthplace of the NHS, which was modelled on the Tredegar Medical Aid Society. Aneurin Bevan, the NHS' founder, is Tredegar's most famous son and when visiting Tredegar make sure that you take in the Bevan Trail.
Tredegar is also Britain's first industrial planned town. It is home of Number One Lodge of the Loyal Order of The Moose and the magnificent Town Clock, the largest freestanding iron clock in the country.
Evidence of iron making in the Sirhowy Valley goes back to Roman times. During the 18th century Tredegar exploded into a major industrial centre with the wars against the French and Americans. Firstly the Sirhowy Ironworks opened in 1778 followed by the Tredegar Ironworks in 1800. These works were built at Uchlaw y Coed on an attractive piece of land owned by Sir Charles Morgan. This lease was taken out by Samuel Homfray, Mathew Monkhouse and Richard Fothergill. Homfray was already a powerful ironmaster in his own right, running the Pen y Darren Ironworks while Monkhouse and Fothergill were partners at the Sirhowy Works. The new works was named Tredegar Ironworks after the Morgans' ancestral home in Tredegar Park in Newport, and by 1805 it was in full production.
All the time the works were developing the workforce numbers were increasing. This was the beginning of the new Tredegar. Fields, meadows and woods were gone, and in their place a smoking, noisy giant born of the Industrial Revolution. Tredegar Ironworks, as the town was originally known, grew rapidly. There was little regard to planning and many houses were built in the most unsuitable places. This haphazard growth caused many problems. There were no sewers and no water supply. There was severe overcrowding with up to eight children in one 'two up two down' house. The squalid, harsh and oppressive living conditions with an almost total lack of hygiene led to frequent epidemics and plagues that meant that, in 1850, the average life expectancy was just 19.5 years of age.
Since these early days much has happened to turn Tredegar into the proud close-knit community it is today. Gone now are the scars of the Industrial Revolution replaced by woodland parks and green open spaces once more. At the centre of the town you will find Bedwellty Park and House, a gift to the people from Lord Tredegar, while to the north-west lies Parc Bryn Bach, a country park of 340 acres with a 36 acre lake at its heart. These environmental improvements together with its unique position as a gateway to the Brecon Beacons have made Tredegar into a beautiful place to live, work and visit.