Torfaen (/tɔːrˈvaɪn/; Welsh: Tor-faen [tɔrˈvaɪn]) is a county borough in Wales within the historic boundaries of Monmouthshire. It was originally formed in 1974 as a district of the county of Gwent and in 1996 it was reconstituted as a principal area.

Torfaen County Borough

Bwrdeistref Sirol Torfaen
Official seal of Torfaen County Borough

Map of Torfaen with principal towns and location in Wales in inset
Map of Torfaen with principal towns and location in Wales in inset
Admin HQPontypool
Largest townCwmbran
 • TypeTorfaen County Borough Council
 • ControlLabour
 • MP
 • AM
 • Total126 km2 (49 sq mi)
Area rankRanked 20th
 • Total92,300
 • RankRanked 18th
 • Density734/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
 • Density rankRanked 3rd
 • Ethnicity
98% White
1.1% Asian
0.7% Mixed
0.2% Black
Welsh language
 • RankRanked 19th
 • Any skills14.5%
Geocode00PM (ONS)
W06000020 (GSS)
ISO 3166 codeGB-TOF


Torfaen (meaning "break-stone") is an old name for the river – today called Afon Lwyd ("grey river") – which flows through the county borough from its source north of Blaenavon southward through Abersychan, Pontypool, and Cwmbran.


Torfaen is bordered by the county of Monmouthshire to the east, the city of Newport to the south, and the county boroughs of Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent to, respectively, the south-west and north-west.

Area characteristics

The area has a population of around 91,000. Much of the southern part of the county borough around the Cwmbran new town conurbation is now urbanised. The north of the county borough is greener and retains extensive areas of countryside, especially on the route to Blaenavon.

The administrative centre is Pontypool in the centre of the county borough. Most of the administration of Torfaen County Borough Council is conducted from the Civic Centre here.

Local landmarks

The highest point of the county is Coity Mountain.

Pontypool Park

  • Pontypool Park is the name given to the former principal residence of Pontypool (now a secondary school) and the 160-acre (0.65 km2) park that surrounds it. The park contains Pontypool Leisure Centre and sports facilities and is the home of Pontypool RFC. The park includes a folly, shell grotto and ornamental ponds. Much of the area is given to woodland but there is extensive open grassland. The American Gardens were opened to the public in 2008, after being closed to visitors for many years, and a restoration project is under way. Torfaen County Borough Council is currently mapping all the trees from the park to remove and then replant those dying and diseased.[1]

Cwmbran Centre

  • Cwmbran Centre is advertised as the second largest under-cover shopping centre in Wales. The centre includes many familiar high-street stores.
  • The former mining town of Blaenavon in the northern part of the county borough is now a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Torfaen is historically a safe Labour Party seat. At present the MP is Nick Thomas-Symonds. Constituents in Croesyceiliog North, Croesyceiliog South, Llanyrafon North and Llanyrafon South wards are served by the Monmouth MP, Conservative David Davies. Torfaen is also a Welsh Assembly constituency, presided over by Labour AM, Lynne Neagle.

Torfaen Council has historically been a Labour-controlled authority, however the 2008 Local Elections saw Labour fail to win enough seats to hold a majority, resulting in a coalition with Plaid Cymru and Independent Councillors.

In the 2012 Local Elections, Labour regained majority control of Torfaen County Borough Council, winning 30 out of a possible 44 seats.


Secondary schools in the area are:

Further education, vocational training and some higher education is provided at the Ponytpool Campus of Coleg Gwent, formerly Pontypool College.

In 2012 Torfaen County Borough Council was criticised for keeping 2,400 laptop computers, originally intended to be used by secondary school pupils and teachers, unused for at least a year "because it couldn't figure out what to do" with the equipment, which originally cost over a million pounds.[2]


Traversed by the Welsh Marches Line with stations at Pontypool & New Inn and Cwmbran run by Transport for Wales. There is also the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway in Blaenavon.

See also


  1. ^ "Torfaen man's bid to make map of trees". South Wales Argus. 18 December 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  2. ^ Parnell, Brid-Aine (5 November 2012), "Welsh council's unused mountain of 2,400 laptops", The Register, retrieved 7 December 2012

External links

Coordinates: 51°43′N 3°03′W / 51.717°N 3.050°W

2012 Torfaen County Borough Council election

The 2012 Torfaen County Borough Council election took place on 3 May 2012 to elect members of Torfaen County Borough Council in Wales. This was on the same day as other United Kingdom local elections, 2012. The Council shifted from no overall control to Labour.


Abersychan is a settlement and community north of Pontypool in Torfaen, Wales, and lies within the boundaries of the historic county of Monmouthshire and the preserved county of Gwent.

Abersychan lies in the narrow northern section of the Afon Lwyd valley.

The town includes two schools; Abersychan Comprehensive School and Victoria Primary School; together with various shops and other amenities including Abersychan Rugby Club.

Abersychan was the birthplace of the politicians Roy Jenkins, Don Touhig and Paul Murphy (MP for Torfaen); and of the rugby footballers Wilfred Hodder, Candy Evans and Bryn Meredith.


Blaenavon (Welsh: Blaenafon) is a town and community in south eastern Wales, lying at the source of the Afon Lwyd north of Pontypool, within the boundaries of the historic county of Monmouthshire and the preserved county of Gwent. The town lies high on a hillside and has a population of 6,055. Blaenavon literally means "front of the river" or loosely "river's source" in the Welsh language.

Parts of the town and surrounding country form the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000.

Blaenavon is a community represented by Blaenavon Town Council and electoral ward of Torfaen County Borough Council.

Blaenavon Ironworks

Blaenavon Ironworks is a former industrial site which is now a museum in Blaenavon in Wales. The ironworks was of crucial importance in the development of the ability to use cheap, low quality, high sulphur iron ores worldwide. It was the site of the experiments by Sidney Gilchrist Thomas and his cousin Percy Gilchrist that led to "the basic steel process" or "Gilchrist-Thomas process".

The ironworks is on the outskirts of Blaenavon, in the borough of Torfaen, within the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, a World Heritage Site. The site is under the care of Cadw, the Welsh government's historic environment service.

Coleg Gwent

Coleg Gwent (English: Gwent College) is Wales' largest further education college at various locations in the former county of Gwent, South Wales.It has 24,000 students ranging from secondary school leavers to mature students. A wide range of part-time and full-time academic and vocational courses are on offer at the college.


Cwmbran (; Welsh: Cwmbrân [kʊmˈbrɑːn], also in use as an alternative spelling in English) is a new town in Wales. Lying within the historic boundaries of Monmouthshire, it forms part of the county borough of Torfaen. Cwmbran was established in 1948 to provide new employment opportunities in the south eastern portion of the South Wales Coalfield. Cwmbran means Crow Valley. Cwmbran is twinned with Bruchsal in Germany and Carbonne in France.

Comprising the villages of Old Cwmbran, Pontnewydd, Upper Cwmbran, Croesyceiliog, Llantarnam and Llanyrafon, its population had grown to 48,535 by 2011. This makes it the sixth largest urban area in Wales.

Gwent (county)

Gwent is a preserved county and a former local government county in south-east Wales. It was formed on 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, and was named after the ancient Kingdom of Gwent. The authority was a successor to both the administrative county of Monmouthshire (with minor boundary changes) and the county borough of Newport (both authorities which were considered to be legally part of England until the Act came into force although considered jointly with Wales for certain purposes).Under the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994, Gwent was abolished on 1 April 1996. However, it remains one of the preserved counties of Wales for the ceremonial purposes of Lieutenancy and High Shrievalty, and its name also survives in various titles, e.g. Gwent Police, Royal Gwent Hospital, Gwent Wildlife Trust and Coleg Gwent. "Gwent" is often used as a synonym for the historic county of Monmouthshire — for example the Gwent Family History Society describes itself as "The key to roots in the historic county of Monmouthshire".The former administrative county was divided into several districts: Blaenau Gwent, Islwyn, Monmouth, Newport and Torfaen. The successor unitary authorities are the Blaenau Gwent County Borough, Caerphilly County Borough (part of which came from Mid Glamorgan), Monmouthshire (which covers the eastern 60% of the historic county), City of Newport and Torfaen County Borough.

In 2003 the preserved county of Gwent expanded to include the whole of Caerphilly County Borough; the Gwent Police area had already been realigned to these boundaries in 1996. In 2007, the population of this enlarged area was estimated as 560,500, making it the most populous of the preserved counties of Wales.

Gwent Police

Gwent Police (Welsh: Heddlu Gwent) is a territorial police force in Wales, responsible for policing the local authority areas of Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen.

List of Scheduled Monuments in Torfaen

The county borough of Torfaen is in the south-east corner of Wales, occupying the valley of the Afon Llwyd, from Cwmbran and Pontypool up to Blaenavon. With only 2 prehistoric and 5 medieval scheduled sites, the list, like the landscape, is dominated by the Industrial monuments of the 18th and 19th centuries. In particular, the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape is a World Heritage Site. Of the 25 monuments, 14 are found within the Blaenavon Community. All of the Torfaen administrative area lies within the historic county of Monmouthshire.

Scheduled Ancient Monuments (SAMs) have statutory protection. The compilation of the list is undertaken by Cadw Welsh Historic Monuments, which is an executive agency of the National Assembly of Wales. The list of scheduled monuments below is supplied by Cadw with additional material from RCAHMW and Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust.


Llantarnam (Welsh: Llanfihangel Llantarnam) is a suburb of Cwmbran, and is a community and electoral ward in the county borough of Torfaen in south east Wales. The ward covers the same area as the community, but also includes Southville.

Llantarnam Abbey is a Cistercian abbey founded in 1179 as a daughter house of Strata Florida Abbey. The remains of that abbey are incorporated into the present buildings housing the Sisters of Saint Joseph. It also contains St Michael's Church.

Llantarnam Hall is home to Rougemont School.

The local secondary school is Llantarnam School.

New Inn

New Inn - (Welsh: Y Dafarn Newydd) - is a village and community of approximately 3,000 households directly south east of Pontypool, within the County Borough of Torfaen in Wales, within the historic boundaries of Monmouthshire.

Paul Murphy, Baron Murphy of Torfaen

Paul Peter Murphy, Baron Murphy of Torfaen, PC, KCMCO, KSG (born 25 November 1948) is a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament (MP) for Torfaen from 1987 to 2015, and served in the Cabinet from 1999-2005 and again from 2007-2008 in the roles of Northern Irish and Welsh Secretary. Prior to joining the Cabinet he held the position of Minister of State for Northern Ireland from February 1997 until 1999. He was nominated for a life peerage in the 2015 Dissolution Honours.


Pontypool (Welsh: Pont-y-pŵl [ˌpɔntəˈpuːl]) is a town that is home to approximately 36,000 people in the county borough of Torfaen, within the historic boundaries of Monmouthshire in South Wales.

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service

South Wales Fire and Rescue Service (Welsh: Gwasanaeth Tân ac Achub De Cymru) is the fire and rescue service covering the ten Welsh principal areas of Blaenau Gwent, Bridgend, Caerphilly, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Monmouthshire, Newport, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Torfaen and Vale of Glamorgan.

SWFRS was created in 1996 by the Local Government (Wales) Act 1994 which reformed Welsh local government. It was created by a merger of the previous fire brigades of Mid Glamorgan, South Glamorgan and Gwent. It covers an area of around 1,100 square miles (2,800 km2) with a population of around 1.4 million.The fire authority which runs the service is a joint-board made up of councillors from the ten principal areas covered by the service.

Torfaen (Assembly constituency)

Torfaen is a constituency of the National Assembly for Wales. It elects one Assembly Member by the first past the post method of election. Also, however, it is one of eight constituencies in the South Wales East electoral region, which elects four additional members, in addition to eight constituency members, to produce a degree of proportional representation for the region as a whole.

Torfaen (UK Parliament constituency)

Torfaen is a county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It returns one Member of Parliament (MP), elected by the first past the post system.

Torfaen County Borough Council

Torfaen County Borough Council (Welsh: Cyngor Bwrdeistref Sirol Torfaen) is the governing body for Torfaen, one of the Principal Areas of Wales.

Torfaen Tigers

Torfaen Tigers are a rugby league team based in Cwmbran, Monmouthshire. They play in the Conference League South division, which is the 4th tier in the Rugby league pyramid


Trevethin (Welsh: Trefddyn) is a suburb of Pontypool in Torfaen, Wales, a community in Torfaen, and includes two electoral wards (Trevethin and St Cadocs and Penygarn) for Torfaen County Borough Council.

Torfaen County Borough
Principal settlements
Electoral wards
Places of interest
Rivers and canals
Local government districts of Wales 1974–1996
Mid Glamorgan
South Glamorgan
West Glamorgan
Transport in Torfaen
Railway lines
Railway stations
Heritage railways

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