Blackwood (Coed Dduon) is a busy shopping centre, with a population of 23,300. It has an outdoor market, which opens three days a week. As the town has grown, it has almost merged with the neighbouring villages of Pontllanfraith, Cefn Fforest and Ynysddu.

Originally, many of the townspeople were employed in the surrounding collieries, notably Oakdale. Its closure in 1990 marked the end of 200 years of coalmining in Gwent. Like many towns in the area, it now relies increasingly on hi-tech manufacturing and service industries.

Blackwood has the benefit one of South Wales' most innovative venues, the superbly restored Blackwood Miners Institute. The Institute, fondly known as 'The 'stute', is the home of theatre, cinema, and concerts as well as arts workshops.

The town's most famous sons are undoubtedly, The Manic Street Preachers, the band formed by four Blackwood boys in 1990. James Dean Bradfield, Nicky Wire, Sean Moore and Richey James Edwards, have spread the name of the town far and wide and have become one of the most popular British bands around today.

With slightly less global fame, but still renowned, was the Reverend William Thomas. Born in Ynysddu, he was better known as the poet Islwyn.

Acknowledgements: Shire County Guide - Anna Tucker Gwent County Council Guide - 1992