Brynmawr, meaning “big hill” in Welsh. It is a market town in Blaenau Gwent, South Wales. It is the highest urban district in Wales and is situated circa 1000 feet above sea level at the head of the Valleys of South East Wales. It grew with the development of the iron/coal mining industry in the early 19th century.
Prior to the Industrial Revolution Brynmawr was a collection of small farms called Gwaun Helygen meaning “Willow Meadow” in English), and lay in the former county of Brecknockshire. With the expansion of Nantyglo Ironworks, housing was required for the workers and Brynmawr became a prosperous town. Although coal mining has nowadays virtually ceased, a large mining museum has been established at Big Pit in nearby Blaenavon.
Brynmawr has an estimated population of over 5,000 people. At the 2001 Census 5.75% of the 16-65 age group spoke Welsh, but the proportion of children (ages 3-15) able to speak Welsh was much higher at 30.54%. The town had the only Welsh-medium primary school, Ysgol Gymraeg Brynmawr, in Blaenau Gwent with 310 pupils ranging from nursery intake to year 6 until 2010, when the school re-located to a brand new, purpose-built building in Blaina.
The town centre's primary shopping areas are contained within Beaufort Street and on Market Square which is also the focal point of the town where many events are hosted. The Market Hall doubled as a cinema and theatre presenting films and productions from the local Amateur Operatic Society. The business community offers many traditional, family orientated and independently run shops with friendly and personal service.
To the west of the town, the Parc Nant y Waun area is a nature reserve incorporating 22 hectares of grassland, wetland and reservoirs which was officially opened in 2007. Home to many wildlife species, it includes a picnic area, and outdoor classroom, and an angling club.