Ystrad Stories
Penrhys, Ernest Zobole, c1951

Penrhys, Ernest Zobole, c1951

Nant y Gwyddon

Author: Bill Monington

Written in response to ‘Penrhys’ Ernest Zobole, (c1951)
Amgueddfa Genedlaethol Cymru – National Museum of Wales

Situated on the mountainside between the Rhondda and Ogmore valleys about two hundred yards above the village of Gelli is the notorious Nant y Gwyddon landfill site.

Over years, unscrupulous dumpers have used the tip to shed all kinds of unwanted chemical waste – to the chagrin of the long suffering residents of the area who formed an action committee. ‘RANT’, engaged experts to analyze the contents, but results were treated with derision by the Local Council until two completely unconnected incidents brought a lot of publicity to the area.

Sixty year old Richard Roberts was in the area one Saturday afternoon when a bunch of young cyclists rode through the tip. Incensed, Mr. Roberts lashed out with an open hand; unfortunately he dislodged one of the groups who fell into the evil smelling mud. The lads dispersed yelling abuse. However the parents of the unseated rider decided to prosecute for assault. A couple of the London based tabloids joined with the local press in reporting the prosecution. Questions were asked, answers were unacceptable to the press who continued to report on an almost daily basis.

The other was when the Council  informed the residents that a few long established trees were to be cut down to allow a wider access entrance to the tip. Now this inflammatory move resulted in some of the protesters chaining themselves to the condemned trees, which attracted environmental attention, providing juicier stories for the press. Following the unfavourable publicity, the council closed the site.


Author: Rob Cullen

Written in response to ‘Penrhys’ Ernest Zobole, (c1951)
Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

The black spoils of Gelli Colliery heaped on the hilltop of Nant y Gwyddon dominates the landscape. Three women stand on either side of lower Penrhys Road. Three women are dressed in dark blue coats and dark hats of a certain style, of a certain age. It could be a Sunday but one has a shopping bag that looks empty. The valley sides are green. The tree growing on the side of the road is in leaf so the time of year is either late spring or early summer. And time stands still.

I consider the three women knowing that their coats will waft with the smell of camphor, of mothballs intermixed with Lilly of the Valley, and Rose scented hand soap or maybe carbolic. Memories are raised of that time of austerity when the pre-war style of clothing was still worn. And everything was gabardine. Dark brown or grey or navy. Or coats of blue or black heavy wool worn throughout the year and through the warmest of summers. There was a slowness of time.

Apart from maroon red Rhondda busses there were few cars. People walked the roads, would meet and chat or gossip in no particular hurry. It was a time of full employment – male employment – few men would be seen during the hours of the working day. But when clocking off time came they would teem and rush off the trains and busses and the village would take on another life. And then night time. That other time.


Author: Jimmy Browne

Written in response to ‘Penrhys’ Ernest Zobole, (c1951)
Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales

So many things are over-analysed and subjected to being described in official, ‘correct’ terminology these days. Well, alright, perhaps in days gone by things were sometimes too little analysed and terms used unfairly and in a hurtful way but there must be a balance to be struck somewhere. Nowadays, people don’t complain of “feeling a bit down today, that’s all”. No, its straight to the doctor for “something for depression”.

Sometimes, when a day at work left me ‘feeling a bit down’ I would give the bus a miss and walk home over Penrhys. The road up from Tylorstown is steep but there’s no law that says you can’t stop for a short rest if you feel the need. Eventually, the Rugby Club passes by on the left and the Cemetery on the right and the roundabout at the entrance to Penrhys is reached. There the joy of being able to look back down the road to the Fach and see the road ahead sloping downwards to the Fawr, is enough to begin to raise the spirits. You can even treat yourself to a little joke; “well, its really all downhill from here.”

With a new spring in your step, you can now lift your head and look across the valley below, from Tonypandy up to Treorchy. Of course you can, yes, I’m telling you, that really is the Parc and Dare you can see.

Depression, doctor’s, do me a favour, I was just feeling a bit down, that’s all.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s