SKU: RC Category:


I was very young when my aunt and uncle lived at Rhydycar but I recall my uncle’s pigeon loft, the large shed in the garden which they used as their main living room (which I found very strange) and walking the whippet or “milgi” in the nearby fields. By 1980 this community had disappeared, my aunt and uncle relocated along with other residents and the cottages demolished, their demise no doubt accelerated by a devastating flood in 1979.

In 1801 on the outskirts of Merthyr on a triangular plot of land bounded by the Cwm Glo brook and the Glamorganshire canal, Crawshay commenced building homes for the miners of the Rhyd-y-car iron ore mine which supplied his Ynysfach ironworks. The eventual neighbourhood of twenty nine houses was constructed in two rows set roughly at right angles to each other and were constructed in three separate phases; the final stage slightly inflected to follow the curve of the canal. Similar in design to Chapel Row albeit narrower in width being single fronted, each house is two storeys with a single room on each floor and an extra bedroom and larder under the catslide roof. Constructed as mirrored pairs the houses would have had one shared thick wall inhabited by a curving stair (either stone or timber), the chimney stack and fireplace.

As a happy epilogue six houses (including my relatives’ home complete with shed and pigeon loft) of the initial building stage have been reconstructed at the Museum of Welsh Life, St Fagans near Cardiff. Rescued and given new purpose as museum exhibits, displaying life over six different time periods as with Joseph Parry’s home they are worth a visit. Ingrate that I am I cannot help but feel their sense of place has been diminished now they have been shorn of their physical context.

I later found out that the living/work shed was to allow the parlour in the main house to be kept for best. Perhaps this way ahead of its time anticipating the “home office/garden room” which is popular today.