The earliest signs of habitation in the Bridgend area go back to Stone Age and Iron Age times, but the first indications that still exist are to be found in the castles of Ogmore, Newcastle and Coity, and the prior at Ewenny, which are all Norman in foundation.
On the mountain sides surrounding Maesteg and its neighbouring villages of Llangynwyd, Pontrhydycyff, Garth, Cwmfelin, Nantyffyllon and Caerau there is evidence of the valley's past, from early burial mounts and the earthworks of a Roman camp to the signs of coal and iron ore mining.
There is evidence of habitation from thousands of years ago, but the clearest signs are the standing stone near Water Street and the extensive earthworks of Pen Castell camp in Kenfig Hill. Norman churches stand at Mawdlam and Pyle, the manor houses of The Hall and Ty Maen are still in existence and so is the mill at Llanmihangel.
At one time Maesteg was little more than a collection of farms stretching along the Llynfi Valley. Then, in the nineteenth century, industry brought firstly the zinc and ironworks followed by tinplate and the coal mines. The town and its neighbouring villages of Caerau, Nantyffyllon and Garth grew rapidly.
The tiny village of Penarth was transformed into a large town by the building of the dock in 1860s, and wealthy ship-owners settled in large mansions overlooking the sea. The Plymouth Estate, which owned most of the land, used its influence to create an air of gentility and refinement, from the public parks and pleasure gardens to the esplanade and pier.
Situated on the South Wales coast, midway between Cardiff and Swansea, with sand dunes to the east and west, and hills and valleys to the north, Porthcawl and its surrounding area contains evidence of Stone Age, Bronze Age and Roman settlements.
At one time Porthcawl could be reached by road, rail, sea and air. The post-war years saw the end of local aviation and the closure of the railway into the town, while road traffic has increased considerably; but channel steamers still call at the harbour.
The west coast of Britain is one of the most dangerous coasts in the world, and on 23rd April 1947 a 7,000 ton liberty ship, the S.S. "Samtampa", entered the Bristol Channel in a strengthening gale. The "Samtampa" quickly got into difficulty, and the Mumbles lifeboat was called out to render assistance.
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Downwood Film Productions is a company based in Porthcawl, South Wales and specialises in producing Local History Films and Documentaries.