BRIDGEND, otherwise PEN-Y-BONT-AROGWR, a thriving market-town, and, jointly with Cowbridge, the head of a union, partly in the parish of Coyty, and partly in that of Newcastle, hundred of Newcastle, county of Glamorgan, South Wales, 20 miles (W. by N.) from Cardiff, and 179 (W.) from London: the population is returned with the different parishes. This town, the name of which is of obvious etymology, is pleasantly situated on the turnpike-road from Cardiff to Swansea, and on the banks of the river Ogmore, which divides it into two parts, the hamlet of Oldcastle occupying the eastern, and that of Newcastle the western bank; and over which are two bridges of stone, one of them an elegant modern structure of three arches, forming an ornamental entrance from the west. It stands in a beautiful and fertile district, nearly in the centre of the county, and consists of one irregular street, containing some excellent shops, and a new street leading from the Coyty road to the market-place, with several handsome dwelling-houses in the environs. A considerable portion of the town is paved and lighted; the place is well supplied with water, and has been much improved of late years, by the erection of several good houses, and by modernising the old ones. There are no fixed amusements, but concerts and dramatic performances occasionally take place at the town-hall. An act of parliament was obtained some years ago for constructing a new line of road from the town to a place called Pant-y-Brocastle, by which the distance from Cowbridge was shortened one mile, and the nearest and least hilly road from Cardiff to Swansea brought through the town.
A large woollen manufactory was established about the commencement of the present century by several gentlemen of the county, both to encourage industry among the inhabitants, and to provide a home market for the wool produced in the vicinity; but this scheme failed to realise the expectations of its promoters, and the building has been converted into a brewery. Contiguous to the town are some quarries of excellent freestone, resembling Portland stone, to which it is not much inferior. In connexion with the Llynvi railway is a branch line, commencing near the village of Cevn Cribwr, and extending four miles and a half, in an eastern direction, to the vicinity of Bridgend. It is intended principally to facilitate the transmission of coal from the large works on the railroad to this town, and to open a communication between the latter and the harbour of Porthcawl, which is a creek to the port of Swansea, and is usually considered the shipping-place for Bridgend, from which it is five miles distant. Considerable improvements of the railway are in contemplation. The South Wales railway, also, will run very near the town, where a station will be fixed. The market is on Saturday, and is noted for the sale of corn, which is pitched; it is also abundantly supplied with provisions, at reasonable prices: the market-place was erected by the Earl of Dunraven, and is replete with every convenience. Fairs are held on HolyThursday, or Ascension-day, and November 17th, chiefly for the sale of cattle and cheese. The pettysessions for the hundred are held here every Saturday; and here also the election of the parliamentary representatives for the county takes place. The powers of the county debt-court of Bridgend, established in 1847, extend over the registration-district of Bridgend and Cowbridge. A new town-hall has been lately erected, by subscription.
Connected with that part of the town which is in the parish of Coyty, forming the hamlet of Oldcastle, is the chapel of Nolton, a chapel of ease to Coyty, where divine service is regularly performed. This chapel, though connected with Oldcastle, is really situate within the verge of the hamlet of Newcastle, in which also stands the parish church of Newcastle. There are places of worship for Particular Baptists, Independents, Calvinistic and Wesleyan Methodists, and Unitarians: that for the Unitarians, with another in the neighbouring parish of Bettws, belonging to the same sect, is endowed with lands and money, amounting to about £40 per annum, chiefly by the ancestors of that distinguished writer, Dr. Richard Price, who was born at Tynton, in the parish of Bettws, in 1723. A National school, in which about 180 children are instructed by a master and mistress, is supported partly by school-pence, but principally by subscriptions, donations, and collections. There are likewise several Sunday schools, one of them in connexion with the Established Church. A savings’ bank and a dispensary have been erected with part of a sum arising from the unappropriated fractional parts of dividends, which amounted to £800; the dispensary, for the distribution of medicines and advice gratis among the poor of the adjoining parishes, not receiving parochial relief, is supported by subscriptions, usually amounting to £100 per annum. The hamlets of Oldcastle and Newcastle derived their names from two fortresses, probably erected by some of the early Norman invaders of Glamorgan, to secure their newly-acquired possessions from the attacks of the native chieftains, to which they were for a long time exposed. That which gave name to the former stood near the present chapel of Nolton, the tithe-barn being subsequently erected on part of its site, and appears to have been dependent on the neighbouring castle of Coyty. The other fortress occupied a commanding situation on a precipitous eminence above the church.
George Cadogan Morgan, nephew of Dr. Price, and classical tutor and lecturer on natural philosophy in the dissenting academy at Hackney, in Middlesex, was a native of this place. He published two volumes of Lectures on Electricity, and a small work on education, entitled “Directions for the use of a Scientific Table in the collection and application of Knowledge;” and communicated to the Royal Society a valuable paper, under the title of “Observations and Experiments on the light of bodies in a state of combustion,” which was published in the seventy-fifth volume of the Philosophical Transactions. He died near London, in 1798.
The poor-law union of Bridgend and Cowbridge was formed Oct. 10th, 1836, and includes the 52 following parishes and townships; namely, St. Athan’s, Bettws, St. Bride’s (including St. Bride’s, Lamphey, and Southerndown), St. Bride’s Minor, Colwinstone, Cowbridge, Higher Coyty, Lower Coyty, Higher Coychurch, Lower Coychurch, Cwmdû, St. Donatt’s, Eglwys-Brewis, Ewenny, Flemingston, Gileston, St. Hilary, Kenvig, Laleston, Lantwit-Major, Llanblethian, Llandough, Llandow, Llandyvodog, Llangan, Llangeinor, Lower Llangonoyd, Middle Llangonoyd, Llanharan, Llanhary, Llanilid, Llanmaes, Llansannor, Llanvihangel, Llŷsworney, Marcross, St. Marychurch, Mary Hill, Merthyr-Mawr, Monknash, Higher Newcastle, Lower Newcastle, NewtonNottage, Pencoed, Penllyne, Peterston-super-Montem, Pyle, Higher Tythegston, Lower Tythegston, Wick, Ynysawdre, and Ystrad-Owen. It is under the superintendence of 52 guardians, and contains a population of 21,357.