Visitors and residents of Merthyr Tydfil can step back in time this month, as the town centre hosts a one-day Victorian takeover — for the whole family to enjoy.
Running from 11am – 3pm on Thursday, 18 August, the Pontmorlais Townscape ‘Heritage Victorian Day’ has been designed to give visitors a glimpse into what the town centre may have looked like nearly 200 years ago.
Arranged by Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council in partnership with the Big Heart of Merthyr Tydfil BID, the event will see characters from the period return to the town centre — in traditional Victorian dress, of course.
Visitors, who are welcome to dress up for the occasion, can enjoy horse and carriage rides along Pontmorlais High Street, watch Punch and Judy shows and have a go on the swing boats — one of the earliest fairground rides in Victorian Britain.
A town crier will announce the day’s events as they happen, including the arrival of the formidable William Crawshay, former owner of Cyfarthfa Ironworks — who will return to the streets of Merthyr Tydfil once more, as the event unfolds.
Meanwhile, Merthyr Artisan market will arrive on Pontmorlais High Street, selling local and handmade produce for visitors to sample, buy and enjoy.
Other family-friendly activities include traditional storytelling and Victorian arts-and-crafts sessions at Theatre Soar — all completely free of charge.
Plus, the Big Heart of Merthyr Tydfil BID will be running a range of 18th century fairground games on Graham Street, from a Coconut Shy stall to Hook-a-Duck and Hoopla.
Leader of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Cllr Geraint Thomas, said: Pontmorlais Townscape ‘Heritage Victorian Day’ has been planned to offer something new for local families, all while providing a special reason for people from the wider Valleys, Cardiff and beyond to visit.
“Feeding into our plans to transform Merthyr Tydfil into a tourism capital of the Valleys by 2034, the event will also give people a reason to reflect on the history of our town — which is filled to the brim with stunning Victorian architecture.
“The regeneration of this architecture forms a large part of our wider town centre masterplan, with new businesses regularly supported to open in vacant heritage properties in the town centre. As such, I hope that visitors to the Heritage Victorian Day will take the opportunity to visit some of the many unique local businesses on offer in Pontmorlais.”
The Heritage Victorian Day in Merthyr Tydfil town centre is part of the Pontmorlais Townscape Heritage Initiative — funded via private sector investments, the National Lottery Heritage Fund, Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Cadw and the Welsh Government’s Transforming Towns programme.