Merthyr Tydfil is situated in the county borough of Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. It derives its name from King Brycheiniog's daughter St Tydfil, who was murdered here in 480 after being converted to Christianity. “Merthyr” translates as “Martyr” in English, but it is believed that in this instance it means “church in memory of a saint, or positioned on his or her grave.”
In the past Merthyr Tydfil was one of the leading industrial towns in South Wales, and at one point there were four iron works in the area. These included Dowlais, Cyfarthfa, Plymouth and Penydarren. Although they paid their workers small salaries, they did not go without giving to charity. Sir John Guest, owner of the Dowlais works, encouraged the building of schools, whilst another owner, Anthony Hill, founded the school at Pentrebach.
However, disputes were erupting over the low pay the miners were receiving and in 1802 the first of the Merthyr Riots had broken out. In 1859 Penydarren Ironworks closed, following closely by Plymouth in 1880. By 1932, 80% of men in Merthyr Tydfil County were unemployed and the town has struggled since.
The county is famous for its community choirs, including Cantorion Cyfartha, Merthyr Tydfil Ladies' Choir, Ynysowen Male Choir, Treharris Male Voice Choir and the respected Dowlais Male Voice Choir. Music festivals are also held at Cyfarthfa Castle and Park.
The Brecon Mountain Railway is close by and Route 8 of the National Cycle Path travels through the town.
There is a successful rugby union club, Merthyr RFC, who are better known as the “the Ironmen”.
Walkers will find an endless choice of both challenging and more gentle routes including the long distance Taff Trail, which links the capital city of Cardiff to the historic market town of Brecon.
The Trail passes through some of the Taff valley's most spectacular countryside and incorporates many interesting features within the local area such as the Penydarren Tramroad which carried Trevithick's famous engine down to Abercynon in 1804 - a world first.
Within Merthyr Tydfil itself, there are a variety of local heritage trails which highlight the Town's historic sites and places of interest. These range in length and terrain to suit all needs and abilities. Merthyr Tydfil's Ramblers Association also arranges a programme of guided walks throughout the local area.
A wide range of sporting facilities are also available within the County Borough including excellent fishing, pony trekking, sailing, windsurfing, cycling and golf as well as indoor sports at the many leisure/community centres.