Maesteg Town Hall is an integral part of the story of the town.
Having hosted everyone from coal miners to cultural icons, the building remains a vital landmark for the Llynfi Valley and the people who live here.
A Town of Industry
The town of Maesteg grew around the ironworks in the early 19th century, and the community’s identity is largely defined by its industrial past.
Coal would eventually take over as the town’s greatest export. Between 1890 and 1925, Llynfi Valle coal became world-renowned, and even powered the record-breaking transatlantic voyage of a famous ocean liner, RMS Mauretania.
Miners of the Llynfi Valley played a crucial role in the establishment of Maesteg Town Hall. Alongside a donation of £500 (equivalent to almost £60,000 today) from long-serving Welsh politician CRM Talbot, local miners donated a day’s wage towards the completion of the building – a legacy of generosity that continues to be embodied by the community of Maesteg.
A Town of Resilience
As a traditional mining town, the decline of the coal industry had a significant impact on the community of Maesteg.
By 1936, 140,000 coal miners in South Wales had been laid off. The population of the Llynfi Valley decreased by around a third during this time, with many leaving the area to seek employment elsewhere. Maesteg’s last coal mine closed in 1985, signalling a period of socio-economic deprivation that continues to challenge the area.
Despite this, the people of Maesteg have proven themselves to be resilient, keeping the character and traditions of their town alive through cultural activities hosted in venues such as the Town Hall.
A Town of Culture
Since opening in 1881, Maesteg Town Hall has been the centre of cultural activity in the Llynfi Valley. For almost 140 years, the building has hosted performances and civic events, as well as providing a much-needed venue for community groups to perform and socialise.
Historic figures ranging from Emmeline Pankhurst to Arnold Schwarzenegger have visited the hall over the years, and the building is home to several large oil paintings by renowned Maesteg-born artist Christopher Williams.
Maesteg Town Hall is also a significant architectural landmark within the town. The structure remains largely unchanged since a renovation that took place shortly before WW1, and it became a Grade II listed building in 1997.
What’s Next for Maesteg Town Hall?
A new chapter is about to begin for Maesteg Town Hall: one that honours the past and celebrates the present while creating new opportunities for the local community to enjoy a rewarding future.
Timeline of the past
The foundation stone of Maesteg Town Hall was laid on 31st October 1880 by C.R.M Talbot MP, who also donated £500 towards the cost of the building. The miners of the Llynfi Valley also levied a day’s wages towards the fund.
Maesteg Town Hall opened on 22nd October 1881, marked by a lavish event which began with a procession to the hall led by the Maesteg Brass Band.
A clock was added to the original turret of Maesteg Town Hall. The workers of the Llwydarth Tinplate Works each provided one shift’s wage toward the cost. This clock face was later placed on the façade of Maesteg Hospital.
Christopher Williams of Commercial Street, Maesteg, six of whose paintings are displayed in Maesteg Town Hall, was inspired to become an artist by a visit to the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
Permission was given to erect the memorial fountain to Dr William Hopkin Thomas of Maesteg, which still stands before the Town Hall today.
Sylvia Pankhurst held a suffragette rally outside Maesteg Town Hall in the April of 1907. In attendance was Amy Jenkins of Twmpath, Nantyffyllon, who had spent 14 days in jail for protesting in Westminster for women’s rights to vote.
In April of this year Emmeline Pankhurst held a large suffragette rally inside Maesteg Town Hall.
First major redevelopment of Maesteg Town Hall, significantly enlarging the building to include a new façade, wings, backstage area and a new clock tower.
A ceremony to mark the reopening of the hall took place on 25th November with a performance by the Nantyffyllon Harmonic Society.
A busy time for Maesteg Town Hall, with regular Saturday dances and performances from local operatic and dramatic societies such as the Tabernacl Chapel Society’s regular Gilbert and Sullivan operettas and the annual British Legion Drama Competition.
Two magnificent Christopher Williams portraits were gifted to the people of Maesteg at the Town Hall by the artist. Four others were given later by his wife.
Maesteg Town Hall saw two famous faces in 1938 with a young Richard Burton winning the recitation competition at the Christmas Eisteddfod, and a visit from Queen Mary on 5th April who came to the valley to open the Social Service Work.
Maesteg Town Hall hosted the Drama Festival of the National Eisteddfod of Wales at Bridgend.
A 20-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared on the Town Hall stage at the Mr Wales Contest before going on to become the youngest ever Mr Universe just weeks later!
Maesteg Town Hall’s centenary year was marked with a programme of events which included historical exhibitions, an exhibition of the art of Christopher and Ivor Williams, performances by schools and the Mid Glamorgan Youth Choir & Orchestra, and the Llynfi Valley Amateur Dramatic Society’s first play, “The Corn is Green”, having been founded especially for the occasion.
Arthur Scargill addressed Llynfi Valley miners at Maesteg Town Hall during the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike.
Maesteg Town Hall Ltd. was created on 30th July to take on the day-to-day running of the hall.
A concert to celebrate 150 years of the National Anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, which was first sung publicly in Tabor Chapel, Maesteg, was held on 1st October at Maesteg Town Hall. A Cymanfa Ganu was held on the 29th of October to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the hall, attended by hundreds, and broadcast on Dechrau Canu Dechrau Canmol.
The daily running of the hall was taken on by Awen Cultural Trust, ensuring a bright future and regular professional acts such as Russell Kane, Rob Beckett, Paul Sinha, Midge Ure, Andy Fairweather Low, Steeleye Span, Jason Donovan, Thunder and more.
Work begins on the second major transformation of Maesteg Town Hall ensuring its continued use and place at the heart of cultural and social life of the Llynfi Valley for decades to come.