River Taff

Aberfan is located on the western incline of the River Taff Valley. The River Taff originates in the Brecon Beacons and reaches all the way to Cardiff. In 1869, a man named John Nixon arrived in Aberfan from the Durham coalfield. He had great plans to sink a pit at Merthyr and began by diverting the river Taff to realize his ambition. By 1875, he had founded the colliery at Merthyr Vale. It was situated on the banks of the Taff. Its waters would be crucial in expanding the coalmining operation.

The Taff flows through Aberfan from north to south. The village is built on its western banks. During our workshops that we ran with local primary school Rhyd y Grug in November 2023, we walked by the river and captured part of how it sounds and looks like. Whereas once it would have been filled with industrial noise — cranes, machinery, and loud shouts from the workmen — today it is a place of quiet and reflection.

During that walk, we also practised the words for River in Welsh (Afon) and Spanish (Río). The students enjoyed learning how they would point out local landmarks to visitors from elsewhere.

From the River Taff we walked towards the bridge and the Community Centre. Many of the children cross this bridge each day on their way to school.

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