Many of Blaenavon’s shopkeepers took a leading role in public life. They served in local government, helping manage the affairs of the growing town. Some sat as magistrates, hearing cases at Blaenavon’s Police Court.
Businessmen were also the driving force behind the setting up of important amenities such as the waterworks, the gasworks, streetlighting and the fire service – all of which were needed by local businesses. A chamber of trade was also formed to fight for the interests of local traders.
“When I arrived in Blaenavon in 1830, there were no roads fit for any vehicle, only five chapels, four shops, five public houses and very few cottages [south-east] of the works.”
Local pioneer John Griffith Williams on opening the new town hall in 1862.
Henry Morgan Davies, a chemist and dentist, was the first Chairman of Blaenavon Urban District Council, a magistrate, a trustee of the English Baptist Chapel, a founding member of the Blaenavon Workmen’s Hall and the Chairman of the Blaenavon Chamber of T
Proclamations or announcements were made from the balcony of the Council Offices in Lion Street (Acknowledgment: Pat Morgan Collection)
Crowds would gather in Lion Street to hear announcements from the balcony of the Council Offices (Acknowledgment: Pat Morgan Collection)
An example of a Blaenavon Urban District Council Report (1911) (Acknowledgment: Blaenavon Community Museum)
The Blaenavon Urban District Council replaced the Blaenavon Local Board in 1894. It met in offices in Lion Street. It was responsible for issues such as public health and urban planning (Acknowledgment: Pat Morgan Collection)
The Blaenavon Municipal Offices were rebuilt in 1930 to a design by John Morgan, a local architect, builder and surveyor, who was responsible for several of the town’s most important buildings
John Thomas, a local school teacher, became Clerk to the Blaenavon Local Board and the first Clerk to Blaenavon Urban District Council. He was succeeded by his son Iltyd G. Gwyn Thomas (pictured centre) in 1912 (Acknowledgment: Pat Morgan Collection)
The grave of John Thomas can be seen in St. Peter’s Churchyard (Acknowledgment: N.A. Matthews)
A fire brigade was formed in Blaenavon in the 1870s and several shopkeepers and innkeepers served as firemen. The ‘John Worton’ fire engine (named after the general manager of the works) was purchased in 1887. In addition to fighting fires, it was used in
The original police station or ‘lock-up’ was located in North Street, near the Ironworks. It was opened in 1838. The first policeman was Mr John Hodder (Acknowledgment: Pat Morgan Collection)
A new police station opened on Church Road in 1871 (Acknowledgment: N.A. Matthews)
A police court was built on Church Road, next to the Police Station, in 1894 (Acknowledgment: Pat Morgan Collection)