Pelenna Community Council
Nestling in the green rolling hills and forests of the South
Wales Valleys lies the small Electoral Ward of Pelenna. The Pelenna Valley is a
short valley which lies between the Neath Valley to the west and the Afan
Valley to the east. The River Gwenffrwd flows into the Pelenna which in its
turn empties into the Afan after traversing Pontrhydyfen. The largest settlements are in Tonmawr and
Pontrhydyfen linked together by the hamlet of Efail Fach.
During the last part of the 19th Century and a large part of the 20th Century the area was dominated by the mining of coal and iron. The earliest records of coal mining relate to a level opened in 1823. Over the next 100 or so years many drift mines and one deep mine were opened in the vicinity. By the early 1960s, mining had ceased in the valley. The pits are all closed now and the area has been landscaped. The once thriving rail hub in Tonmawr is no more but in Pontrhydyfen the large and imposing aqueduct and nearby massive rail bridges bear testimony to its past activities. Industrialisation had a detrimental effect of the rivers of the area and a ground breaking water cleansing scheme was inaugurated in 1995 to cleanse the iron oxide pollution from the Pelenna and Gwenffrwd Rivers. This scheme has been remarkably successful and trout now swim in the once iron stained polluted waters.
The area is now tranquil and scenic and a magnet for mountain bikers and hikers. A nature lover’s paradise, it abounds in wildlife and flora and fauna. Buzzards and Red Kite wheel overhead, adders and grass snakes wriggle into the undergrowth. The occasional heron or woodpecker may also be spotted, and a myriad of smaller birds and insects proliferate. Deer shyly roam the forests, rabbits, badgers and foxes thrive.
Fewer than 1500 people live in this Elysian area but we are a tight knit and supportive community that welcomes the new comer.