Should they all just move down closer to the M4?
Does make you wonder what South Wales would be like if there was never any coal? "Stay in the market town of Cardiff as a base to explore the unspoilt beauty of the Valleys National Park"
Merthyr was an iron town, and there was a certain amount of industrialisation centred around metallurgy in the wider Valleys area - e.g. chain works at Pontypridd, Tinplate works in Treforrest, etc.
However, I think its fair to say that a lot of the population growth that took place was concentrated in the second half of the 19th century, and reflected the growth of coal mining as the main employer.
Without that, Wales probably would have seen significantly more migration to industrialising areas of England, and emigration to the US, Canada and Australia (I think I'm correct in saying emigration rates were lower from Wales than from Scotland, Ireland, and much of Southern and Central England). Where would the main city have been if Cardiff hadn't grown as a coal port? I don't know... Wrexham due to its connections with industrial Merseyside?
Anyway, I think its clear that further development around the M4 corridor, especially in and around Cardiff, are vital for economic performance and for giving greater opportunities for people born in deprived parts of the Valleys. It is better to spend money pump-priming areas that have a chance of being economically sustainable (lower RCT, maybe Pontypridd, Caerphilly, Bridgend) than pouring more money into isolated parts of the Rhondda and Garw valley. More needs to be done to tackle the main barrier preventing people leaving declining communities - private and social housing supply in more successful parts of Wales.
CARDIFFWALESMAP - FORUM