Pontypool (Pontypwl) is one of the major towns in Torfaen County Borough, with 36,064 people. Although in the valleys, it was never a coal-mining town. Instead, Pontypool owes much of its position to iron, and to the Hanbury family, who bought land there in 1588 for ironmaking.
One of the Wales' last surviving 'Bracchis' can be found in the town. 'Mario's Caf' at the bottom of Broad Street, is a reminder of the cafes that used that used to dot Welsh mining communities. Many Italian emigrants coming to South Wales in the late 19th century set up these wonderful chrome-plated coffee shops.
Pontypool Park is one of the town's treasures. With over 150 acres of beautiful scenery, it is one of Wales' finest parks. The Hanbury family who had shaped the town gave the park to the town. It has many leisure facilities, including a dry ski-slope, tennis courts and bowling green.
At the north entrance to the park there is the Pontypool Museum. The museum is part of Pontypool Park House, built in the 1690s. Inside, the story of Torfaen, spanning 400 years is told through audio-visual presentations, and a collection of original objects and memorabilia.
Highly elaborate, wrought iron gates can be seen at the entrance to the park. These were made in the 1720s and remodelled in 1835 by Thomas Deakin. They were a gift to Major John Hanbury (1664-1734) by the Duchess of Marlborough.
A stone circle can also be found in the park. This was built in 1924 to commemorate the Eisteddfod held in the town that year.
A bustling market town, the Old Corn Market in George Street can still be seen. The present market dates from 1891 and was designed by Robert Williams.
Acknowledgements: Pontypool - A Concise History and Guide Gwent County Council Guide - 1992