Putting Merthyr Tydfil on the International Map

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As regular readers of this blog might know, my family is of Welsh decent. My Dad was born in the City of Merthyr Tydfil, a place that while he has fond memories and many friends is no place he’ll retire too.It was once a giant of the industrial revolution providing a huge portion of the coal used in 19th century Britain, more recently it is known for being where viagra was discovered. However, it is an economically depressed city to explain how bad Merthyr is lets look by the numbers (and not family lore.) Out of the entire UK it Ranks:

  • fifth worst for education, just 38.2% of students achieve GCSE results between A* and C*.
  • 13th worst for economic activity.
  • 13th worst for life expectancy: women live on average 73.8 years and men 78.1.
  • while 30% of the population has a limiting long-term illness.
  • & it is the ancestral Hometown of Donny Osmonds family.

It was rated the 3rd worst place to live in the United Kingdom.Because of the family connection, when I see news items on Merthyr during my reading of the Western Mail I always stop to read.Today it is my duty to help Andrew Barry, president of the Merthyr Tydfil Chamber of Trade and a councillor for the city council. Mr Barry recently defended spending $220,000 (£100,000) on sponsoring last summers Donny Osmond Concert in Merthyr by saying:

“This is some of the best money the council has ever spent because it puts Merthyr on the international map”

I thought I would put it on this blog to help put Merthyr on the map – as a Google News Search shows that it never got in the papers over here for some reason…. $220K well spent, well done Mr. Barry.

The Author

Hi. My name is Matt Roberts, you can find me at www.mattroberts.com.

4 Comments

  1. Mitch Brisebois says

    So it’s Merthyr Tydfil day!! In honour of "Os-fest" – the Merthyr anagram o-the-day: Elf Ditty Myrrh

  2. Lynette Rees says

    Hi Matt,Merthyr Tydfil isn’t such a bad place to live you know. I love it here. Granted it has a bad reputation but the people here are amongst some of the friendliest you could meet anywhere in the world.I watched the Donny Osmond concert on TV and loved it.It has some ugly parts [the factories and industrial side] but where I live in Abercanaid is lovely. I have Gethin Woods behind where I live and some beautiful countryside. Regularly, I see interesting wildlife, wild flowers, foxes, herons, etc. It’s gorgeous.The town has a an interesting historical background too and has definitely improved since the days of ‘China’ where people lived in squalor amongst the opium dens and ‘Emperors’ [drugs barons] of the town as the ironworks were in full swing.I’m proud of my town. I had a good education and went to school at Cyfarthfa Castle. I didn’t appreciate it back then, but I do now. 😉

  3. Howard Williams says

    Matt,A couple f issues with your comments:Merthyr is not a city nor ever has been. It was a County Borough from the early part of the twentieth century.Its principle export was never coal, it was iron, which went all over the world. It was the iron men from Merthyr who were behind the growth of the American Iron industry in Pennsylvania. As for the town and area, you’ll need to have lived there to know its pros and cons. While the death of the iron industry meant the decline of the glory days, it also saw the end of the poverty and slave labour of the iron masters. The rise of trade unionism globally owes its existence to the suffering and fight-back of those ironworkers and miners of this area. The first Labour Member of Parliament was elected by Merthyr. Also, the founder of the Mormon religion, Joseph Smith was born in Merthyr.And as for the area, visit the areas all around the town and you will see some of the most beautiful countryside in Britain. From the mountains and rivers in the Brecon Beacons, to the tumbling river Taff as it heads down the valley through the Vaynor Gorge.Merthyr is a beautiful ugly town set in a landscape worth fighting for. What it isn’t is a deadbeat town.

  4. mattroberts says

    Howard – thanks for pointing out that merthyr is not a city. But none of your points have anything to do with my main statement. Merthyr IS one of the worst places to live in Britain today, by many measures. And instead of investing in local initiatives to help fix these problems the local council spent 100K on bringing Donnie Osmond to the area for little to no reason. And with very little to show for it in the national or international press, which was how Andrew Barry justified the expenditure. If locals would like start fixing Merthyrs reputation, asking Donnie Osmond to help is not the first place to start. Perhaps advertising the beautiful countryside and local history would be a better idea. I’m an avid Historian BTW, Joseph Smith was not born in Merthyr Tydfil, Not sure where you got that from. And the first labour MP elected was from Myrthyr but was a Scotsman.But thats neither here nor there. I have many friends who live in South Wales and still reside in the areas around Merthyr. My Dad worked in the Hoover Factory in the 60’s. I go back regularly and love the place. But you can’t deny the this was a waste of local money, I’d love to see locals take charge and fix the reputation of Merthyr, and South Wales as a whole. But look at the defenses of this silliness on my blog. They can be summed up as "so what? we have a history and a pretty landscape." That’s not enough, if you want to start fixing start advertising why Merthyr is Great and stop wasting money on the like of donnie osmond.

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