Bridgend is a market town lying at the western extremity of the plump green Vale of Glamorgan and at the mouths of the industrialised Llynfi, Ogmore and Garw Valleys. It is roughly midway between Cardiff and Swansea and immediately behind the beautiful Heritage coast that offers so many amenities to locals and visitor alike.
It has been an important location at least since the second century when the Romans built the fort of Bomium on the site of an earlier Celtic settlement near Ewenny, and Owain Glyndwr laid siege to Coity Castle between 1404-5. More than 400 years later the agricultural market town changed into an industrial town when the local railway company built roads for horse-drawn trams to carry coal from the Maesteg area via Bridgend to the port at Porthcawl in 1830. And a road built from Oldcastle to Crack hill, near Brocastle, meant that the old bridge erected in 1425 had to be replaced.
There was even sporting life in Bridgend before rugby. The area was a hot-bed of bando, a fierce form of hockey in which the sticks were used to trip ball-carrying opponents and sometimes to inflict more serious damage. Nowadays, the town centre has all the high street chain stores and a nearby Odeon multiplex cinema. There are also three out-of-town shopping centres. It is an industrial town and as such, people from all corners of South Wales travel there every day to work in its offices, shops, hospitals and factories and at the college. Indeed, Bridgend is famed for its accommodation of industry.
Within the town boundaries lies one of the biggest Ford plants in Europe, as well as the Japanese-owned Sony Electronics factory, which has created jobs for thousands of people since it opened in the mid-1980s. Bridgend didn’t officially become a town until the 15th Century. Before that the area was made up of small parishes, the largest being that of Coity which is now a village on Bridgend’s periphery.
To the south and east of Bridgend the land flattens as it approaches the coast where several pretty villages show their historic past through thatched roofs and traditional pubs.