Pit Village That Once Fought off Landslide Fears Faces Being Swamped - by New Houses; in 1973, the Tiny Village of Troedrhiwgwair Was Nearly Wiped off the Map over Fears It Would Suffer the Same Fate as Aberfan. amid Fierce Protests from Residents, It Survived, but More Than 30 Years Later It Faces a New Battle for Survival. Wendy Horton Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: Wendy Horton

AROUND 30 years ago, villagers battled to maintain the very existence of their tiny community on the edge of a South Wales town, following the Aberfan disaster.

Built on the mountainside at the tail end of Tredegar, there were fears in 1973 that Troedrhiwgwair, built in the shadow of a coal heap similar to that at Aberfan, could fall victim to the same fate as one of the world's worst mining village disasters.

At Aberfan, less than 20 miles away, a massive coal heap slid onto a school, claiming the lives 144 victims, 116 of them children, on October 21, 1966.

But Treodrhiwgwair survived.

After fighting to prove their natural mountain was safe from storms, following worries that heavyrain could cause a landslide, villagers of Treodrhiwgwair were allowed to remain on the edge of the Sirhowy Valley.

However, the 15-year battle for survival came at a high price.

All that remains now of the once thriving community, which had a pub, post office, church and school at the heart of its 96 houses, is a single row of houses and a population of fewer than 20.

But for those who remain, a quiet life is a just reward for staying in a community that was almost lost forever.

That was until now.

Almost three decades on, the tranquility of Troedrhiwgwair is under a new threat, with plans to build 147 houses on a former opencast coal site nearby.

The encroachment of a major housing development could see Troedrhiwgwair merge with its neighbouring and equally peaceful hamlet of Peacehaven, where residents are also opposed to the plans.

Many current Peacehaven residents fled their Troedrhiwgwair homes in the 1970s as news spread about the threat from the slag heap.

Back then the old local authority, which is now Blaenau Gwent Council, put houses in Troedrhiwgwair under compulsory purchase orders.

But some hardened members of the local population stood their ground.

They took their fight to the Welsh Office and, after a public inquiry, eventually won their battle.

Brian Gardner, 65, is one resident who fought hard to keep Troedrhiwgwair alive.

He said: "If development goes ahead there it's going to be four years of hell, a heck of a problem. …