THE Now and Then picture shows Cwmbran bus station. The town has grown to become the sixth largest town in Wales and currently boasts well over 55,000 residents.

It has seen many changes since August 1949 when it was designated the first Welsh town under the New Towns Act of 1946 to meet the desperate need for proper housing and employment following the devastation of World War II and to provide a ravaged community with a balanced social structure.

The town centre covered more than 55 acres and was constructed in stages between 1958 and 1980. Cwmbran Development Corporation was assigned the task and the early 1960s saw the new town centre slowly taking shape. Llantarnam Grange was restored to become an arts centre and the police station and magistrates court were officially opened.

Around the town centre clusters of residential neighbourhoods grew up, and a blend of different architectural styles and layouts has been achieved. To cope with the unprecedented influx of those seeking work, during the 1950s, thousands of basic quality homes were constructed.

The first new estate to be built was Northville in 1953, free from busy roads and with open play areas for children, it appeared to be ideal, yet by the 1960s people were complaining of having no privacy in their homes. To a lesser extent Southville suffered similar problems in its early days, but with a better feeling of spaciousness people bonded more readily.

Recent years has seen major redevelopment to transform certain areas of the town. The north-west corner around General Rees Square has been completely rebuilt as has the south-west corner and the town is now enjoying success.

Information courtesy of Cwmbran Volume 1: Dr Gareth D John and Graham H Lawrence