"Navigation": a short (non-aviation!) history

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"ABERCYNON" is today a well known town (Nr Cardiff) set in the heart of the Welsh Valleys, but was not known by that name until 1893, at the start of the coal boom. The town was originally called "NAVIGATION", because of its prominent links in the early 1790s as an important part of the South Wales canal network - an aviation connection at that time highly unlikely.

The Glamorganshire Canal was constructed between 1790-1797, and linked the Merthyr Tydfil iron works and Cardiff docks - a distance of about 25 miles. The stretch via Abercynon took the greatest time to build, through difficult terrain including a drop of 207 feet over Cefn Glas towards Quaker’s Yard. The finished result contained 16 separate locks within little over a mile, of which a few still survive today.

Aberdare Junction with the Glamorganshire Canal and Navigation (Abercynon) on a 1868 map. © 2006 Rhondda Cynon Taf Library Service.

Right on our doorstep is Navigation House, now a local public house. Originally this building comprised the Glamorganshire Canal Company’s head offices. It was used to direct the canal operation from as near to the canal basin as possible – and is still known as ‘The Basin’ to this day.
By the mid 19th Century, the canals were superseded by the train, and during that period Abercynon became the site of a pioneering demonstration of locomotive power.
On February 11, 1804, the famous engineer Richard Trevithick launched the first steam locomotive engine, pulling five carriages - laden with 70 people and 10 tonnes of iron - across a rudimentary iron track laid from Merthyr Tydfil to Abercynon.

The town increased in prestige in later years, but it was not until 1889 and the sinking of Abercynon’s first large-scale coal mine that the area really started to develop. Trade greatly enriched the town, both through the valleys and Abercynon’s own collieries. Since the closing of the mines and more recently, business developments around Abercynon have taken place, such as the Navigation Business Park and Ty Trevithick Educational Centre.
The Ty Menter opposite the Valleys Innovation Centre (Navigation Park) where we are located, overlooks the A470 dual carriageway. This is part of a multi-million pound business incubation centre being developed within the borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf (RCT) and aimed at new start and knowledge based SMEs. Incorporated are ISDN/broadband ICT infrastructure, CAT 6 telecommunications, computer floors, interview and meeting facilities.
All our users benefit from the services the University of Glamorgan GTi business start up support centre which is based here. Cambrian Aero (Training) also provides aviation training for the Dept of Advanced Technology which is based at the main university campus a short distance away. Our other academic links include London Metropolitan University who can provide Aviation English Proficiency at level 4 and 5 for our foreign students.

If you feel energetic, the recently opened Heritage Trail is just on our doorstep, providing a cycle and walking route to the Taff trail, linking Cardiff in the south and Brecon to the north.
Cambrian Ground School is a member of the GTi (Aviation) Business Network

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