Talk of the Town – Treorchy

April 8, 2020

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by Caroline O’Neill, Strategic Arts and Culture Manager, Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council

What is a Town?  According to the Cambridge Dictionary, it is “a place where people live and work, containing many houses, shops, places of work, places of entertainment”.  According to the people of Treorchy, young and old, a town is a place where its people are its greatest resource.  It is its people that hold its story and create the narrative of its past, present and future.

Treorchy is situated in the Rhondda Valleys of South Wales.  It is a town steeped in coal mining history, male voice choirs and brass bands.  It is a town that has been poverty-stricken by its loss of industry and people.  And yet, it is a town where independent businesses are thriving, where character is in abundance, and where creativity is central to its success – within and beyond the walls of its Park and Dare Theatre, built with the miners’ penny-in-the-pound, and still entertaining residents and visitors over a century later.

Talk of the Town has enabled Treorchy to tell its story, and continue to do so.  Each chapter has been written by its inhabitants, and is now been captured through this storytelling project for generations to come.  Captured visually and through audio, local school children, teachers, ex-miners, artists, business owners and more share Treorchy’s narrative.  From its pre-industrial past, to its transformation upon the discovery of its black gold leading to an influx of people from across the world; to its loss of industry and decreasing population, to presently being the Great British High Street Champion of the Year 2019, Treorchy and its people are no stranger to hardship.

This is important to remember now more than ever with the town currently a shadow of its self in light of the world Covid-19 pandemic.  With the closure of schools, theatres, pubs, libraries, cafes, retail outlets, religious buildings and bans on social gatherings has come a stillness and silence to this and every town across the UK.  However, what Treorchy has are its people, who are retaining their true community spirit and finding ways to support each other at an uncertain time.  This is Treorchy’s next chapter, its story of staying connected, community-focused and visionary of its future against all odds.  This is Treorchy learning the lessons of its past to survive the present and thrive in its future.  After all, this town is no stranger to adversity.