Neath (/nθ/; Welsh: Castell-nedd) is a town and community situated in the principal area of Neath Port Talbot, Wales with a population of 19,258 in 2011.[2] The wider urban area, which includes neighbouring settlements, had a population of 50,658 in 2011.[2] Historically in Glamorgan, the town is located on the River Neath, 7 miles (11 km) east northeast of Swansea.[3]

A rooftop view of Neath - - 1618067.jpg
View of Neath
Neath is located in Neath Port Talbot
Location within Neath Port Talbot
OS grid referenceSS745975
Principal area
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townNEATH
Postcode districtSA10-11
Dialling code01639
PoliceSouth Wales
FireMid and West Wales
UK Parliament
Senedd Cymru – Welsh Parliament
List of places
Neath Port Talbot
51°40′N 3°49′W / 51.66°N 3.81°W / 51.66; -3.81Coordinates: 51°40′N 3°49′W / 51.66°N 3.81°W / 51.66; -3.81


The town's English name ultimately derives from "Nedd" the original Welsh name for the River Neath and is known to be Celtic or Pre-Celtic. A meaning of shining or brilliant has been suggested, as has a link to the older Indo-European root *-nedi (simply meaning river).[4][5]

As such, the town may share its etymology with the town of Stratton, Cornwall and the River Nidd in Northern England.[6][7]


Roman fortEdit

The town is located at a ford of the River Neath and its strategic situation is evident by a number of Celtic hill forts, surrounding the town. The Romans also recognised the area's strategic importance and built an Auxiliary Fort on the river's Western bank around AD 74.

Much of the site is on the grounds of Dwr-y-Felin Comprehensive School but archaeological digs have also found gate-towers that extended out beyond the fort's walls (a feature unique in Roman Britain) and a large Roman marching camp which would have accommodated thousands of troops.[8][9] These finds indicate some of the unusual measures taken by the Romans during the resistance of the native Silures and the fort at Neath was abandoned in around 125AD for fifteen years and again in around 170AD for a century before the final Roman withdrawal around 320AD.[10]

The Antonine Itinerary (c. 2nd century) names Nido (or Nidum) as one of nine places in Roman Wales.[11]

Medieval periodEdit

St Illtyd visited the Neath area and established a settlement in what is now known as Llantwit on the northern edge of the town. The church of St Illtyd[12] was built at this settlement and was enlarged in Norman times. The Norman and pre-Norman church structure remains intact and active to day within the Church in Wales.[13] The Welsh language name for Neath is Castell-nedd, referring to the Norman Neath Castle,[14] which was visited by English kings Henry II, John and Edward I.

Industrial and modern NeathEdit

Neath was a market town that expanded with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century with new manufacturing industries of iron, steel and tinplate. The Mackworth family, who owned the Gnoll Estate[15] were prominent in the town's industrial development. Coal was mined extensively in the surrounding valleys and the construction of canals and railways made Neath a major transportation centre and the Evans & Bevan families were major players in the local coal mining community as well as owning the Vale of Neath Brewery.[16] Silica was mined in the Craig-y-Dinas area of Pontneddfechan, after Quaker entrepreneur William Weston Young invented the blast furnace silica firebrick, later moving brick production from the works at Pontwalby to the Green in Neath. The town continued as a market trading centre with a municipal cattle market run by W.B.Trick. Industrial development continued throughout the 20th century with the construction by BP of a new petroleum refinery at Llandarcy.

Admiral Lord Nelson stayed at the Castle Hotel en route to Milford Haven when the fleet was at anchor there[citation needed]. Lt. Lewis Roatley,[17] the son of the landlord of the Castle Hotel, served as a Royal Marines officer with Nelson aboard HMS Victory in the Battle of Trafalgar.

The River Neath is a navigable estuary and Neath was a river port until recent times. The heavy industries are no more with the town being a commercial and tourism centre. Attractions for visitors are the ruins of the Cistercian Neath Abbey, the Gnoll Park and Neath Indoor Market.[18]

Neath hosted the National Eisteddfod of Wales in 1918, 1934 and 1994.[19]

Notable peopleEdit

See Category:People from Neath


The Welsh Rugby Union was formed at a meeting held at the Castle Hotel in 1881.[22] Neath Rugby Football Club, the famous and successful "Welsh All Blacks", play at The Gnoll. They have won 4 consecutive titles in the semi-professional Principality Premiership and 3 Swalec Cup titles (previously known as Schweppes and Konica Minolta Cups).[citation needed]

Motorcycle speedway was staged at the Abbey Stadium in Neath in 1962. The Welsh Dragons, led by New Zealander Trevor Redmond, raced with some success in the Provincial League but, because of local problems, a number of the "home" fixtures were raced at St Austell. The Dragons introduced the Australian rider Charlie Monk to British speedway. After a season at Long Eaton Archers, Monk went on to have considerable success at Glasgow. The team also featured South African Howdy Cornell. In the early 1960s there was also stock car racing held at Neath Abbey, opposite the monastery

Neath Athletic A.F.C. was the town's largest football team, playing at Neath RFC's ground, The Gnoll, and played in the top flight of Welsh football, the Welsh Premier League, until the club was wound up in 2012. In the 2006–07 season, Neath Athletic A.F.C. were promoted from the Welsh Football League First Division to the Welsh Premier League. Neath Athletic A.F.C. had an average of 300 supporters attending a domestic, Welsh Premier League game, which was typical of the Welsh Premier League.


The previous borough council was absorbed into the larger unitary authority of Neath Port Talbot on 1 April 1996. The town encompasses the electoral wards of Neath East, Neath North and Neath South.

Neath and the surrounding area is represented at Westminster by Christina Rees MP (Labour) and in the National Assembly for Wales by Jeremy Miles AM (Labour) and by four AMs within the South Wales West electoral region.


As with the rest of the British Isles and Wales, Neath experiences a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters, often high winds, and low sunshine levels.

Climate data for Neath 62m asl, 1961–1990
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 7.6
Average low °C (°F) 2.7
Average precipitation mm (inches) 137
Mean monthly sunshine hours 49.6 67.8 108.5 159.0 186.0 183.0 186.0 173.6 132.0 93.0 69.0 46.5 1,460
Source: Met Office[23]


Dwr-y-Felin Comprehensive School is situated on the outskirts of the town, opposite a campus of NPTC Group (which was previously Neath Port Talbot College. The Cefn Saeson Comprehensive School is in the village of Cimla near the Crynallt Primary School. Two other comprehensive schools serve the town: Llangatwg Comprehensive School in Cadoxton and Ysgol Bae Baglan in Baglan, Neath Port Talbot.. Primary schools include St Joseph's R C Primary School in Hillside Neath, Crynallt Primary School in Cimla, Alderman Davies Church in Wales Primary School in Neath, Gnoll Primary School in Neath, Melin Infant and Junior schools, Ysgol Gynradd Castell Nedd, Mynachlog Nedd Junior School in Skewen, Tonnau Primary School in Tonna, Tonmawr Primary School in Tonmawr, Catwg Primary School in Cadoxton, Cilfrew Primary School in Cilfrew, Wauncierch primary school in Wauncierch and Ynysmaerdy Primary School in Briton Ferry


Railway Bridge over Dwr-y-Felin Road next to Dwr-y-Felin Comprehensive School.

Neath railway station is on the South Wales Main Line. Great Western Railway and Transport for Wales serve the station with services westbound to Swansea, Carmarthen and the West Wales Line and eastbound to Port Talbot Parkway, Bridgend, Cardiff Central and London Paddington. Trains also run via Hereford and Shrewsbury to Crewe and Manchester Piccadilly.

Neath bus station is at Victoria Gardens, a five-minute walk from the railway station. National Express services call at the railway station. From Victoria Gardens, First Cymru provides direct inter-urban services to nearby Swansea and Port Talbot in addition to South Wales Transport who provide many similar local services.

The A465 skirts the town to the north east and provides a link to the M4.


There are plans to regenerate around 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of land in and around Neath town centre in the near future. The site once occupied by the previous civic centre will be redeveloped as a new shopping centre. The area around the Milland Road Industrial Estate will be redeveloped along with the area around the Neath Canal. On 27 November 2008, proposals for an "iconic" golden rugby ball-shaped museum, a library, heritage centre and other new facilities were announced for consultation. The developer, Simons Estates, says that it plans to start construction when the economic climate improves.[24]

In March 2008, the county's new radio station, Afan FM, announced plans to turn on a new transmitter dedicated to the Neath area in the summer. This will transmit on 97.4 FM, and will give residents of Neath their first taste of the borough's new local radio station, which already transmits to the neighbouring area of Port Talbot on 107.9 FM. The new transmitter for the Neath area was commissioned by Government regulator Ofcom on Thursday 23 October 2008.

St David's Church, Church in Wales.


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b "Neath". Neighbourhood Statistics. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 8 February 2013.
  3. ^ John Paxton, ed. (1999). The Penguin Encyclopedia of Places (Third ed.). London: Penguin. p. 628.
  4. ^ Wyn Owen, Hywel; Richard Morgan (2008). Dictionary of the Place-names of Wales. Llandysul: Gomer Press. p. 342.
  5. ^ John Davies; Nigel Jenkins; Menna Baines; Peredur I. Lynch, eds. (2008). The Welsh Academy Encyclopedia of Wales. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. p. 603.
  6. ^ "Etymology". Retrieved 27 August 2011.
  7. ^ Weatherhill, Craig (2009) A Concise Dictionary of Cornish Place-names. Westport, Co. Mayo: Evertype; p. 65
  8. ^ Nidum Roman dig in playing fields BBC Wales, 21 February 2011
  10. ^ coflein NPRN: 301350
  11. ^ "The Antonine Itinerary – Iter Britanniarum – The British Section". Archived from the original on 27 July 2009. Retrieved 27 October 2009.
  12. ^ Parish of Neath: St. Illtyd Archived 8 May 2006 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Church in Wales
  14. ^ Neath Castle
  15. ^ Britton Manor
  16. ^ Neath Brewery
  17. ^ "HMS VICTORY. MAN~OF~WAR 1805 MUSTER LISTS". Archived from the original on 15 June 2006. Retrieved 11 June 2006.
  18. ^ Gnoll Park
  19. ^ "Eisteddfod Locations". The National Eisteddfod of Wales. Archived from the original on 23 May 2011. Retrieved 3 October 2010.
  20. ^ Oxford DNB article: Pugh, Sir Arthur
  21. ^ Oxford DNB article: Wallace, Alfred Russel
  22. ^ "The History of The Castle Hotel". Neath SA11 1RB, Wales: The Castle Hotel. Archived from the original on 14 May 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2009. The Castle Hotel was the meeting place for the founders of the Welsh Rugby Union. The inaugural meeting of the Welsh Rugby Union took place in the Nelson Room at the Castle Hotel on 12th March, 1881. There is a plaque outside the hotel commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Welsh Rugby Union, and at that time the Nelson Room name was changed to the Centenary Room. Still displayed in the room are the plaques of the original eleven members of the Welsh Rugby Union.CS1 maint: location (link)
  23. ^ "Neath 1961–90 averages". Met Office. Archived from the original on 10 February 2001. Retrieved 25 September 2011.
  24. ^ BBC NEWS |'Iconic' museum planned for town

External linksEdit