In 1284 the inhabitants petitioned the burgesses of Hereford for a certified copy of the customs of the latter town, and these furnished a model for the later demands of the growing community at Cardiff from its lords, while Cardiff in turn furnished the model for the Glamorgan towns such as Neath and Kenfig.
NEATH (Welsh, Castell-Nedd), a municipal and contributory parliamentary borough, seaport and market-town of Glamorganshire, south Wales, prettily situated near the mouth of the Neath or Nedd, on the Great Western and the Rhondda and Swansea Bay railways, 72 m.
The Neath and Brecon railway has a terminus in the town.
According to tradition Iestynap-Gwrgan, the last prince of Glamorgan, had a residence somewhere near the present town, but Fitzhamon, on his conquest of Glamorgan, gave the district between the Neath and the Tawe to Richard de Granaville (ancestor of the Granvilles, marquesses of Bath), who built on the west banks of the Neath first a castle and then in 112 9 a Cistercian abbey, to whose monks he later gave all his possessions in the district.
Copper smelting has been carried on in or near the town since 1584 when the Mines Royal Society set up works at Neath Abbey; the industry attained huge proportions a century later under Sir Humphrey Mackworth, who from 16 9 5 carried on copper and lead smelting at Melincrythan.
The Neath Canal, from the upper part of the Vale of Neath to Briton Ferry (13 m.) passes through the town, which is also connected with Swansea by another canal.
Neath is included in the Swansea parliamentary district of boroughs.
Neath is a borough by prescription and received its first charter about the middle of the 12th century from William, earl of Gloucester, who granted its burgesses the same customs as those of Cardiff.
For a while he worked at the ironworks, Neath Abbey, Glamorgan, and then set.
Since 1832 it has belonged to the Swansea parliamentary district of boroughs, uniting with Kenfig, Loughor, Neath and Swansea to return one member; but in 1885 the older portion of Swansea was given a separate member.
The Taff, the Nedd (with its tributaries the Hepste and the Mellte) and the Tawe, all rise on the south of the Beacon range, and passing through Glamorganshire, flow into the Bristol Channel, the upper reaches of the Nedd and its tributaries in the Vale of Neath being deservedly famous for its scenery.
A large industrial area around Neath is supplied from Ystradfellte.
The southern edge of the county is formed by the scarps and moorlands of the Carboniferous Limestone and Millstone Grit (both of which form also the outlier of Pen-ceryg-calch north of Crickhowell), while the lowest beds of the Coal Measures of the South Wales coalfield are reached in the Tawe and Neath valleys (where the beds are much folded) and near Tredegar and Brynmawr.
Few hands are employed in manufactures, but the mining industry is more important, coal being extensively worked - chiefly anthracite in the upper reaches of the Swansea and Neath valleys, and bituminous in the south-eastern corner of the county.
There are also limestone and fireclay, firebrick and cement works, chiefly on the northern outcrop of the carboniferous limestone, as at Abernant in the Vale of Neath and at Penwyllt.
The Central Wales section of the London & North-Western railway from Craven Arms to Swansea crosses the north-west corner of the county, and is intersected at Builth Road by a branch of the Cambrian, which, running for the most part on the Radnorshire side of the Wye, follows that river from Rhayader to Three Cocks; the Midland railway from Hereford to Swansea runs through the centre of the county, effecting junctions at Three Cocks with the Cambrian, at Talyllyn with the Brecon & Merthyr railway (which connects the county with the industrial areas of East Glamorgan and West Monmouthshire), and at Capel Colbren with the Neath and Brecon line.
The Swansea Canal and that of the Vale of Neath have also their northern terminal within the county, at Ystradgynlais and Abernant respectively.
The following towns had each in 1901 a population exceeding 10,000: Cardiff, Ystradyfodwg, Swansea, Merthyr Tydfil, Aberdare, Pontypridd, Llanelly, Ogmore and Garw, Pembroke, Caerphilly, Maesteg, Wrexham, Penarth, Neath, Festiniog, Bangor, Holyhead, Carmarthen.
Copper, tin and lead works are everywhere numerous in the busy valleys of north Glamorgan and in the neighbourhoods of Swansea, Neath, Cardiff and Llanelly.
The principal canals are the Swansea, the Neath, the Aberdare & Glamorgan, and the Brecon & Abergavenny, all worked in connexion with the industrial districts of north Glamorganshire.
Through the modern county of Glamorgan by way of Leucarum (Loughor) and Nidum (Neath) to Venta Silurum.
The rich low-lying lands of Morganwg and Gwent were thus firmly occupied, nor were they ever permanently recovered by the Welsh princes; and such natives as remained were kept in subjection by the almost impregnable fortresses of stone erected at Caerphilly, Cardiff, Cowbridge, Neath, Kidwelly and other places.
The Vale of Neath branch of the same railway and the Rhondda & Swansea Bay railway (now worked by the Great Western) have terminal stations near the docks on the other (eastern) side of the river, as also has the Midland railway from Hereford and Brecon.
Through Landore to Morriston, and also eastwards along the sea margin towards Neath, is the industrial quarter, while the residential part occupies the sea front and the slopes of the Town Hill (580 ft.
The modern development of the port dates from about the middle of the 18th century when coal began to be extensively worked at Llansamlet and copper smelting (begun at Swansea in 1717, though at Neath it dated from 1584) assumed large proportions.
A canal connecting the tidal part of the river Neath with the mouth of the Tawb, made in 1789, was in 1824 connected with the Vale of Neath canal by means of an aqueduct across the Neath river, when also a small dock, Port Tennant (so named after its owner) or Salthouse Dock, was made near the east pier, and this continued to be used till 1880.
In 1832 St John's, St Thomas and parts of the parishes of Llansamlet and Llangyf elach were added to the parliamentary borough of Swansea, to which along with the boroughs of Neath, Aberavon, Kenfig and Loughor a separate representative was given.
To the south, and the Via Julia from Nidum (Neath) to Loughor probably passed through the northern part of the present borough where a large quantity of Roman coins was found in 1835.
Its status was only that of a "creek" in the port of Cardiff till 1685, when it was made an independent port with jurisdiction over Newton (now Porthcawl), Neath or Briton Ferry and South Burry, its limits being defined in 1847 as extending from Nash Point on the east to Whitford Point on the west, but in 1904 Port Talbot, which was included in this area, was made into a separate port.