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Cyfarthfa Castle


Visited June 2011

Location Merthyr Tydfil
Entrance Fee No
Railway Station  Merthyr Tydfil- approx. 1/2 mile
Parking Yes
Facilities Toilet, Shop, Cafe, Museum, Play Area


Given that Wales is crammed  full of medieval castles, it would seem that the last thing anyone would want to build is a mock castle. But that is exactly what the Crawshay family of local Ironmasters built in 1824, as a showpiece to for their wealth and prosperity. Cyfarthfa Castle is a castlellated manor set in large parklands- the perfect residence for  wealthy mine owners who once provided the main source of employment for many of the families in 19th century Merthyr.






The Crawshays lived in the castle until the late 1880's. It was then sold to Merthyr Tydfil Borough Council, who remain the owners to this day. This means the public now have access to this once-private dwelling. The castle itself houses a museum dedicated to the history of the area. Merthyr was once the largest town in South Wales, and all its contributions to the world are represented here-  Iron mining, the Penydarren Locomotive, Laura Ashley & Hoover to name but a few. As far as we could see there was no mention of either Donny Osmond or Kylie Minogue- both have traced their ancestors back to Merthyr. However I am sure this oversight will be rectified in due course!!!


There are also displays about the everyday life of the workers in the iron mines, my music-mad child was fascinated by the instruments of the works band. The Temperance Movement is also explained, and how the Crawshay family encouraged temperance in their workers but were heavy drinkers themselves!!! The history of the Trade Union Movement which tried to improve the lot of the workers is also told in detail and the harsh punishment of one worker who was used as a scapegoat to quell demonstrators during a riot is both tragic and thought-provoking.


The museum is well laid out with lots of interactive displays. It offers a fascinating glimpse into the lives of all of those involved in the industries which once gave the area such importance. As such it makes a change to see a castle in Wales which is dedicated to a later historical era- not that I am at all dissing medieval castles you understand!!! When you have  exhausted the museum there is a shop and a pretty decent cafe on site, and the castle gardens are a pleasure to stroll through.





Now we have done the castle bit, lets get down to the 4kids bit, as Cyfarthfa Castle Park has a treat in store for  younger visitors. If you take the path to the side of the castle, you will soon come to an impressive looking play park, complete with water splash area, designed for complete & utter wetness!!!  If standing under buckets of water as they tip onto heads is your children,s idea of fun, then this will appeal big time. The day we went it was very hot, and as it was half term the park was heaving with children, but there are wardens on site supervising the water area so even though it was busy, there was a sense of things being well managed. One word of warning- you are not allowed to take photos of the splash park- there are some not very prominent signs up which I did not see at all until I was told off by a warden for photographing my children having fun!!! So I unfortunately cannot show you a picture of the park , hopefully you will enjoy the pictures of the castle instead!!





With the  castle, grounds and play area to take in, there is a lot to do at Cyfarthfa Park. As this is all for free, it makes a good day out, even if you have to factor in the travel costs for non- locals. We used local taxi firm Funky Cabs during our visit, and found them very reasonable.





More info:  Cyfarthfa Castle Museum

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