Port Talbot: A history (of sorts)

21 December 2010

Port Talbot has a proud heritage – and, very possibly, a great future.

Aberavon's sea defences - close to where Stone Age man lost his axe head

Here, LNPT writer Mike Witchell casts his eye over a few thousand years of history.

Beware, however, he’s not thought to be over-qualified as a historian. And he’s only got to the early 17th Century. More to follow …

Port Talbot through the ages

4000BC Stone Age man is first to picnic on Aberavon beach, but gets a row from the wife after losing his axe head in the sand. It’s found later … in 1970.
1 AD The Romans come roaming into Aberavon from the east, setting up milestones along the way. “The arrival of the Romans is quite literally a milestone for Aberavon,” the Guardianus newspaper comments.
1080 The Normans arrive from England with their builders, Messrs Motte and Bailey, and start work on a posh new des res in the village, Aberavon Castle.
1147 Hoodies in the woodies spark a major alert in Margam, where they open an enormous a monastery and make music – monk rock – all day and all of the night. Soon everyone is working for the band of brothers, and they’re even richer than the Normans!

1152, June The 12 Knights – the Dopey Dozen – decide to give up the day job of defending Aberavon against the Welsh and open the pub of the same name in the village.
1152, July Welsh burn Aberavon Castle.
1210 Bad King John stops over in Aberavon en route to Ireland. And did he like the village? “It’s not bad,” he told Ye Guardian enigmatically.
1284 Edward I – the Hammer of the Scots – arrives in Aberavon but legs it when he realises he’s in the wrong country. No wonder they called him Longshanks!
1304 Borough of Aberavon is granted its first royal charter. The proud residents must have been doing something right!

1326 Edward II arrives with the wind up and a party of bolshie barons on his tail. Eddie is later captured in nearby Neath before being ’orribly murdered at Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire – but not before he had sent his jewellery and personal effects, valued at an eye-watering £63,000, on to Swansea for safe keeping where it promptly disappeared!
1394/99 Richard II pops in en route to Ireland. Still no sign of Eddie’s gems in Swansea.
1427, 1491/92 Devastating floods wreck town.
1540 New wave succeeds monk rock at Margam as the monastery is dissolved by Henry VIII and the hoodies are driven out.
1607 For new wave, read tidal wave as the town is overwhelmed once more. It is thought the first two settlements at Aberavon were lost under sea and sand. Third time lucky, eh, thought the hardy locals.

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Ken Smith says:

OF such things myths are made.
I can’t wait for the next instalment and what it has to say on Ramsay Macdonald.