Former Taf Fechan water offices, Merthyr Tydfil
This building, now the Iron Dragon pub, was erected in the early 1930s as offices for the Taf Fechan Water Supply Board. Here staff managed the drinking water which was piped to many towns in the Valleys and as far south as Barry.
The building’s imposing frontage reflects the lofty aspirations of a public utility to improve health through provision of clean water to all. The plain brick of the exterior walls is offset by the Classical portico and the dressed stone at basement level.
The building was later used by Welsh Water (successor to the Taf Fechan board) and then by other public-sector bodies. It was empty for many years before being acquired by Amber Taverns. Following a major refurbishment, it opened as the Iron Dragon in October 2018.
Before the First World War, many South Wales local authorities formed the Taf Fechan Reservoir Committee to plan a new dam across the Taf Fechan (‘small Taff’) at Pontsticill, north of Merthyr Tydfil. The Pentwyn reservoir already occupied part of that valley. The new reservoir, below the earlier one, would cover land occupied by several farms and two places of worship. In 1916 the committee bought Taf Fechan Church and its vicarage for £5,500. It had earlier bought Bethlehem Independent Chapel. Worship continued at both for at least two years.
The Taf Fechan Water Supply Board was established in 1921. The new reservoir and water treatment works were officially opened in 1927 by Henry Seymour Berry, or Baron Buckland of Bwlch, the Merthyr-born industrialist whose statue stands nearby in High Street (outside the library).
Provision of piped drinking water to homes was an important step in improving public health and living standards. Previously cholera (which is spread by dirty water) was a mass killer, particularly in the densely populated borough of Merthyr Tydfil. Outbreaks in the borough killed 1,682 in 1849, 455 in 1854 and 229 in 1866.
Postcode: CF47 8BG< View Location Map