About Pontypool

Pontypool is situated at the surprising altitude of 450 feet above sea level and it appears wedged into the bottom of a steep valley. Its history goes back much further than Blaenavon (World heritage site) for in Norman times it was known as Le Pool and no doubt takes its existing name from a bridge that was built in early times over the Afon.

Pontypool has a great history. Most notably, iron-making was first carried out here on a small scale in 1525 but the town became an important industrial centre in the 16th Century when Richard Hanbury came here from Worcestershire to exploit the mineral wealth of the area. The Hanbury family were the first major iron-masters in South Wales and they played a very important part in the history and development of this town. Capel Hanbury built Pontypool Park House in 1690 – 1720 and it was extended in 1779-1861. (The house is now a Comprehensive School)



Major John Hanbury (1664 – 1734) was the pioneer of the tin-plating industry and the rolling mill was invested by his agent Thomas Cooke who came from Stourbridge. This was an important development which replaced the labour intensive process of manually hammering out wrought iron bars into sheets. Thomas Allgood a Northampton man, who was employed as a manager of the Pontymoel works discovered a durable and inexpensive method of applying lacquer to tin-plate. The process was later developed by his son Edward who set up a business in Trosnant to produce Pontypool Japanware in 1732.

Snuff boxes and trays decorated in gold formed the main part of the early production and it was not long before Pontypool became famous for its Japanware. 

The 158 acre park that surrounds Pontypool Park house was given to the town after the birth of Capel Hanbury’ son and it now boasts beautiful woodland and recreational facilities including a leisure centre and a Ski slope. There are also walks to local curiosities such as the Folly Tower and the Shell Grotto where extensive views may be obtained. 

Pontypool historically has seen a shift from the old manufacturing industries of coal and iron to high technology and service industries. Following a period of decline in the economy of Pontypool as a town, it is now beginning to benefit from the resurgence of the industrial heritage and its proximity to the world heritage site at Blaenavon. It has also undergone massive investment and regeneration which has brought multiple chain stores to the town. The emphasis is now on promoting and marketing the town as a vibrant place to visit and shop with the new nestling alongside the old in the shape of the Victorian Market and other features within the town.

folly tower