Registered Historic Park & Garden


Reference Number
Aberfan: Cemetery, Garden of Remembrance and Former Tip and Slide Area  
Date of Designation


Unitary Authority
Merthyr Tydfil  
Merthyr Vale  

Broad Class
Gardens, Parks and Urban Spaces  
Site Type
Cemetery; formal garden; landscaped former tips and slide area  
Main phases of construction
Late nineteenth c (cemetery); 1968 - 73  


Summary Description and Reason for Designation
The registered site at Aberfan is of great national importance and meaning. The event that led to its existence was the disastrous collapse of a coal tip above Aberfan on 21st October 1966. Two parts of the site – the cemetery and Garden of Remembrance – are the haunting burial place of and memorial to those who lost their lives in this tragedy. A distinct part of the cemetery is devoted to graves of the victims, a memorial cross and a small pavilion and garden. The area is dominated visually by the two rows of linked arches of glistening white stone, each arch at the head of a grave. The Garden of Remembrance is simply laid out on the site of the school that was engulfed by the tip. The third part – the landscaped area of the tips and slide above Aberfan – was a pioneering work of earth-moving, draining and landscaping on a huge scale that resulted in a distinctive landscape geared to the need for stability and good drainage. The quality of design and success of the scheme can be judged by how well the area now blends into the hillside. At 9.15am on 21st October 1966 one of a series of five coal tips on the Mynydd Merthyr ridge above the town of Aberfan slid down the hillside, destroying a farmhouse, 20 houses and Pantglas School, which stood below the tip, on the western edge of the town, on Moy Road. It was a disaster of international proportions and one that deeply affected the nation and many beyond. One hundred and forty four people lost their lives, including 116 children (half the children of the school), five teachers, including the headmistress, and 23 other adults. The tip was one belonging to Merthyr Vale Colliery, which was closed in 1990. The remaining tips on the Mynydd Merthyr ridge were cleared in 1969 and the A470 road now runs above the town and across the path of the tip slide. A Community Centre was built in Hillside Close, on the site of the destroyed houses, in 1973 and a children’s playground placed between the community centre and the memorial garden. Two distinct sites stand as memorials to this catastrophic event. The first is the section of the town’s cemetery devoted to many of those who lost their lives. The second is the Garden of Remembrance, which stands on the site of the school. Aberfan cemetery Aberfan cemetery lies above the west side of the town, on the steep west flank of the Taff valley. Above it the ground continues to rise steeply to the Mynydd Merthyr ridge. The setting of the cemetery is a peaceful and attractive one. Immediately above is light, mixed deciduous woodland. Below, to the east, the flat valley floor is unbuilt on and beyond, above a few rows of houses, the ground rises to the moorland and forested slopes of the Cefn Merthyr ridge. The cemetery dates to the late nineteenth century but within it is a section where 106 of the 144 victims are buried. This is quite distinct from the rest, having been designed and laid out as a separate entity. It is situated near the top of the northern half of the cemetery. The graves form two long, parallel rows across the slope, marked at their heads by long rows of linked white granite arches in simple classical style. Beneath each arch is a memorial; most are simple inscribed granite stone slabs. The Garden of Remembrance The Garden of Remembrance is a small public garden in Moy Road, created in 1969 and dedicated to those who lost their lives in the disaster. It stands on the site of Pantglas School, which was built between 1901 and 1922 and mostly destroyed in the disaster. What remained standing was demolished. The layout of the school is delineated with low, mortared walls of water-worn stone to create a formal, compartmented garden. The garden is accessed from the north by a sloping, curving, path through a paved court, and past a rockwork shrub garden. On the south side of the court is a wall and entrance gate, with another wall on the west side with a memorial plaque. The garden is laid out either side of a central, north-south path of concrete paving with brick edging, flanked by narrow shrub borders. Side paths lead to compartments of planted trees and shrubs, enclosed by walls. The Former Tip and Slide Area The former tip and slide area occupies a section of the west side of the Taff valley, almost from the top of the ridge (about 380 m) down to the town (about 180 m), a fall of about 200m. The ground drops smoothly down to the valley and blends seamlessly with the valley slopes to either side. The area is now sliced in two by the A470 dual carriageway, which runs north-south across its lower end. Between the A470 and the town, above the Garden of Remembrance, the steep slope is grass and scrub covered, with a track running straight up the slope to the road. The disused railway line at the foot of the slope is now in use as a public footpath. Grading has formed two areas of slightly stepped contouring: one at the foot of the slope with substantial banks and ditches along the contours; the other more pronounced at the top, to the north-west, with five terraces contoured around the slope reinforced by lines of low concrete walling. Small areas on the lower grading have been planted with mixed deciduous trees, the upper end is now bounded by conifer plantations, and strips of deciduous woodland have been planted alongside the A470. Significant Views: Open views across the valley from Aberfan cemetery. Views towards the landscaped former tip and slide area from the opposite hillside. Open views from the playground to the opposite hillside. Sources: Cadw Historic Assets Database (PGW (Gm) 69(MER)). Additional Notes: D Leighton  

Cadw : Registered Historic Park & Garden [ Records 1 of 1 ]