With Cwmbran Centre celebrating its 60th anniversary this year while the town itself celebrates its 70th anniversary, DAN BARNES had a look at some of the centre's key milestones over the past six decades.

THE first public building to open the site of what would become the Cwmbran Centre was the Post Office in 1959.

Although not part of the centre officially it marked the start of the development of the site into what it is today.

The Post Office was opened ahead of schedule in November 1959 in order to deal with the Christmas rush.


Incidentally, as Rugby Heaven now occupies that site, Cwmbran Centre manager Rikki Teml explains it is now the only store in the centre which is not under their ownership due to being on Royal Mail land.

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Things began to move from there, as, in the same year, General Rees Square was officially named, and in the December the site saw the opening of Shepherd’s.

The next year saw the opening of what would become an icon of the centre. Pretty Miss, the school wear specialists, opened its doors in Cwmbran for the first time on December 17, 1960, and has remained in the same family ever since.

In 1964 came something that Cwmbran would become famous for throughout Gwent when the first car park and bus station were completed on the site.

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Around this time was also when the David Evans department store and the site’s first pub – The Moonraker (now The John Fielding) – opened.

Expansion plans were floated in 1964 due to the increased population in Cwmbran and the next year saw the official opening of Cwmbran Shopping Centre.

The Family sculpture was gifted to the site by the Cwmbran Arts Trust. It is now located at Llantarnam Grange.

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Jumping forward a few years, 1972 saw the opening of most of Gwent Square in the heart of the site. The library and Gwent House were now in place.

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Also opening that year was another Cwmbran mainstay in the making, as Shaws the Drapers moved into town. The firm still has a base in the centre, but has moved from its original location.

In 1976, Cwmbran enjoyed another milestone as Wales’ first ever Sainsbury’s store opened in the centre. It remains to this day, but has moved location within the centre since.

Two years later, the David Evans department store had improvements made to its ground floor. What’s more, the work was officially unveiled by none other than '70s staple Noel Edmonds.

Mr Edmonds said: “God bless this store, and all who sell in her.”

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In 1985 the site was purchased by Ladbrokes and renamed Cwmbran Shopping: Where Our Valley Comes to Shop. However, it was shortened to simply Cwmbran Centre due to the realisation that people were in fact travelling from much further afield to the site.

The glazed canopy was added shortly after, and it was claimed at the time that it was among the largest unsupported structures in Europe.

Heading into the 1990s the site was purchased again, this time by Prudential, who oversaw two phases of massive redevelopment.

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Phase one – completed in 2001 - included a new Asda store and 800 parking spaces. Phase two – completed in 2004 – included the creation of Llewellyn Walk and Monmouth Walk.

Then in 2017, the centre was given the guise it is known by today – Cwmbran Centre.

Mr Teml said: “We have a lot of independent stores interested in coming here as well as the fantastic big brands.

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“There are 3,000 spaces but nearly 12,000 cars come through every day.

“We’re much more than just a shopping centre.

“We’re the heart of the community. It makes it the place it is and that’s why people keep returning to Cwmbran.

“We have a lot of independent stores interested."

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This is part of a series of features marking the 70th anniversary of Cwmbran: