History and Heritage

Eyesores of Ystalyfera

A couple of articles in the Llais newspaper speak forcibly against local eyesores. One was referred to bizarrely as "King Kong's bad egg cup" and apparently was a remnant of a colliery in Lower Cwmtwrch that became a fly-tip. The other began life as a Salvation Army hall (left), went through other uses before ending up disused, vandalised and disgusting.


Working day after day on collating the families which once used to live, work and rear their children within Ystalyfera, it is a pleasant break now and again, to take a look at some other items of news which became of interest to the local population of the day.

Just thought I would share a couple of 'Eye Sores' apparently that had drawn a lot of criticism and thus had got into the news. Personally, I thought the buildings were quite interesting but then again in 1953, I was only a youngster many miles away in Derbyshire so I really cannot give an opinion.

The first one was referred to as:


Anyone remember it? This is what the Llais reporter had to say in 1953:

"Ten yards from the main Ystalyfera - Ammanford Road, just past the Drill Hall at Lower Cwmtwrch, you'll find a wilderness where once Brynderi Colliery used to be. And it's impossible to come away from this eyesore without a feeling of utter, absolute disgust! The photograph shows a concrete tower, called locally "King Kong's egg cup", part of the colliery that instead of being pulled down and carted off now remains to litter the place.

The wilderness has a fence round it on the main road side, while on the other side there is nothing to prevent people straying onto the railway line nearby.

The spot has now become a rubbish tip for householders living in the area who must take some of the blame for the shocking mess the place is in. Anything of no use - buckets, tin cans, old china, bicycle wheels - are just dumped there. Even the latest washing powder packets are to be seen among the boulders, bricks and old tree branches that lie strewn around. I hope parents have the sense to warn their offspring not to play among this foul mess. Everywhere glass from bottles and jam jars, obviously smashed with stones, litters the ground, some of it half hidden among the dense tangle of nettles.

And while the gate to the place on the main road side is locked, there is a style placed in a handy position near it, so that anybody can wander in and out quite easily.

This part of Lower Cwmtwrch has been an eyesore long enough. It should be banned to the public both as a tip and as an exercise yard. It should be cleared up now, once and for all.

There is no reason why we should have to tolerate this foul mess in our midst!"

Wow! It is a good job this reporter was not up in Derbyshire, my fondest memories where made when my brother and I came back from an afternoons rummaging on the local slag heaps, armed to the teeth with bits and bobs found lying around in the rubbish and under nettles, ready to become treasured possessions in our den down in my grandparents back yard. And guess what we learnt a healthy respect for broken glass and how NOT to get cut and an awareness of contamination and infections which could be caught from touching the smellier items. Besides Grandma's carbolic soap and scrubbing brush was a constant enough reminder.

Now for photograph number 2: anyone remember where this was located? It too was referred to as an eye sore but apparently it originally began as the Salvation Army building in Ystalyfera:

"It was only built in 1930 yet it stands as a shocking indictment of parents whose children have practically stoned the place to death and of youths or older people whose conduct has made a telling contribution to the present day decay of the building.

Every single window has been smashed. Metal sheeting nailed up to thwart the stone throwers has rusted away or been ripped down.

Hinges have been torn off some doors and great, gaping holes have been punched in others. Most of the ventilation bricks have been smashed.


Now look inside. There's nothing to stop you. The rear door has gone - probably on some Guy Fawkes bonfire.

Every conceivable kind of litter - stones, glass, tins, bones, old rags, clods of earth and turf - is strewn on the floor. And some of those stones would need a man's strength to throw.

There is evidence that sheep have wandered in and humans have fouled the place too.

Climb the three firm wooden steps to the stage. There you'll see the remains of a gold piano whose every key has been wrenched off and now the tugged up strings are tangled.

The roof is in good condition, so is most of the flooring but one stretch is now showing signs of damp damage.


The hall is about 70 feet long and 30 feet wide. It would make a fine village hall, a place where pensioners could meet, a headquarters for a youth organisation; cinema shows could be held there; concerts could be staged there. A dozen other users could be found for it but the building remains derelict, decayed, disgusting.

The hall was in use by the Salvation Army until the first years of the war. They found it necessary to close down in 1943 and a little later Army Cadets took over. They were followed by a boys' club, then the 5th Swansea Valley Scout Troop.

For the past three years it has been used as a target for stones and other missiles. Now there is an organisation interested in using the hall and negotiations with the Salvation Army are in progress.

Perhaps it will, after all, be rehabilitated. A Salvation Army officer at the Swansea headquarters told the Llais this week: Our general policy is to let such halls when possible. We never play dog in the manger with places like this.

But there has not been a demand for the hall until now. We have felt very sad about it. We just have not sufficient officers to enable us to make use of the hall and we feel it is not worth putting money into it unless there is some immediate object.

And so, until the hall is taken over it remains to shame Ystalyfera.

Val Trevallion YEARGROUP


Cofion Cynnes, newsagent and bookshop, Ystradgynlais