Pontypridd as well as being a University and Market Town is the principal town of Rhondda Cynon Taff and is situated 12 miles north of the Welsh capital city of Cardiff. Pontypridd is often abbreviated “Ponty” by local residents.
The town sits at the junction of the Rhondda and Taff/Cynon Valleys, where the River Rhondda flows into the Taff immediately south of the town at Ynysangharad War Memorial Park. The community of Pontypridd is the second largest in Wales, just behind Barry. Pontypridd community had a population of 29,781 according to census figures gathered in 2001.
Pontypridd is, however, more famous for the Old Bridge a stone bridge across the River Taff built in 1756 by William Edwards. The bridge was the third attempted by Edwards, and at the time of its construction was the longest single-span stone arch bridge in the world. Rising 35 feet (11m) above the level of the river, the bridge is a perfect segment of a circle, the chord of which is 140 feet (43m). Notable features are the three holes of differing diameters through each end of the bridge. The purpose of these was to reduce the weight of the bridge, although their aesthetically pleasing nature is a bonus.
The utility of the bridge was debatable, however – the steepness of the design making it difficult to get horses and carts across it – and in 1857 a new bridge, the Victoria Bridge, paid for by public subscription, was built adjacent to the old one. Pontypridd was known as Newbridge from shortly after the construction of the Old Bridge until the 1860s.