"...Porth is at one and the same time the gateway to the Rhondda and the narrow portal which gives access for the two historic valleys to the great world outside."
In Welsh, Porth means "gateway", and standing at the confluence of the rivers Rhondda Fawr and Rhondda Fach, Porth is at one and the same time the gateway to the Rhondda and the narrow portal which gives access for the two historic valleys to the great world outside.
With frequent connections by bus and train to Tonypandy and Treochy in the Rhondda Fawr and by bus to Ferndale and Maerdy in the Fach, Porth is easily accessible to all the Rhondda communities, and is then linked easily to Pontypridd and Cardiff by road and rail, but by far the best way to arrive is direct from M4 Junction 34 via the A4119 and A4233 which descends into the town from the mountain pass of Trebanog, with sweeping views of moor and cliff.
Porth's shopping centre is based on Hannah Street, newly refurbished as part of the Lower Rhondda Fach Relief Road scheme, which will take through traffic away from Porth town centre. There is a range of traditional shops, including D and D Meats where owners the Roberts Family are Welsh Champion butchers with a string of both national and regional awards for their meat. Their shop still boasts Victorian tiling, complete with pictures of cattle, and also, a modern touch, a collection of sports jerseys worn by stars such as Diego Maradona, Pele and Beckham. Other shops in Hannah Street include specialists in soft furnishings and curtains, as well as traditional names.
"...groups such as Busted, Feeder and the Darkness have used the Pop Factory's recording facility..."
A short stroll away from Hannah Street will bring you to Bronwydd Park, one of the most attractive in the area, which was donated to the people of Porth by William Evans, owner of the Thomas and Evans Welsh Hills Works where Corona pop was made.
The Welsh Hills Pop Factory has now become a TV and recording studio – groups such as Busted and the Darkness have used the Pop Factory's recording facility, and the TV studio is the venue for live programmes.
Older buildings in the town include the oldest chapel in Rhondda at Cymer (1743), but like all the valley towns, Porth was really called into being by the great coal boom of the mid nineteenth century and so it is fitting that the Rhondda Heritage Park should be situated just a mile down the valley at Trehafod. Housed on the site of the Lewis Merthyr Colliery, which closed in 1983, the Heritage Park commemorates the history of coal-mining and the communities it spawned, and is open all year round, but all around the town of Porth there are reminders of the mining heritage at every turn.