"ABERCYNON" is today a well known
town (Nr Cardiff) set in the heart of the Welsh Valleys, but was
not known by that name until 1893, at the start of the coal boom.
The town was originally called "NAVIGATION",
because of its prominent links in the early 1790s as an important
part of the South Wales canal network - an aviation connection
at that time highly unlikely.
The Glamorganshire Canal was constructed between 1790-1797, and
linked the Merthyr Tydfil iron works and Cardiff docks - a distance
of about 25 miles. The stretch via Abercynon took the greatest
time to build, through difficult terrain including a drop of 207
feet over Cefn Glas towards Quaker’s Yard. The finished
result contained 16 separate locks within little over a mile,
of which a few still survive today.
Aberdare Junction with
the Glamorganshire Canal and Navigation (Abercynon)
on a 1868 map. © 2006 Rhondda Cynon Taf Library
Right on our doorstep is Navigation House, now a local public
house. Originally this building comprised the Glamorganshire
Canal Company’s head offices. It was used to direct
the canal operation from as near to the canal basin as possible
– and is still known as ‘The Basin’ to
By the mid 19th Century, the canals were superseded by the
train, and during that period Abercynon became the site
of a pioneering demonstration of locomotive power.
On February 11, 1804, the famous engineer
Richard Trevithick launched the first steam locomotive
engine, pulling five carriages - laden with 70 people
and 10 tonnes of iron - across a rudimentary iron track
laid from Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon.
The town increased in prestige in later years, but it was not
until 1889 and the sinking of Abercynon’s first large-scale
coal mine that the area really started to develop. Trade greatly
enriched the town, both through the valleys and Abercynon’s
own collieries. Since the closing of the mines and more recently,
business developments around Abercynon have taken place, such
as the Navigation Business Park and Ty Trevithick Educational
The Ty Menter opposite the Valleys Innovation Centre (Navigation
Park) where we are located, overlooks the A470 dual carriageway.
This is part of a multi-million pound business incubation centre
being developed within the borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT)
and aimed at new start and knowledge based SMEs. Incorporated
are ISDN/broadband ICT infrastructure, CAT 6 telecommunications,
computer floors, interview and meeting facilities.
All our users benefit from the services the University of Glamorgan
GTi business start up support centre which is based here. Cambrian
Aero (Training) also provides aviation training for the Dept
of Advanced Technology which is based at the
main university campus a short distance away. Our other academic
links include London
Metropolitan University who can provide Aviation
English Proficiency at level 4 and 5 for our foreign students.