Torfaen (/tɔːrˈvn/; Welsh: Torfaen [tɔrˈvaɪn]) is a county borough in the south-east of Wales. Torfaen is bordered by the county of Monmouthshire to the east, the city of Newport to the south, and the county boroughs of Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent to the south-west and north-west respectively. It is within the historic boundaries of the historic county of Monmouthshire, and between 1974 and 1996 was a district of Gwent, until it was reconstituted as a principal area in 1996.

Torfaen County Borough
Bwrdeistref Sirol Torfaen
Coat of arms of Torfaen County Borough
Map of Torfaen with principal towns and location in Wales in inset
Admin HQPontypool
Largest townCwmbran
 • TypeTorfaen County Borough Council
 • ControlLabour
 • MP
 • MS
 • Total126 km2 (49 sq mi)
 • RankRanked 20th
 • Total92,300
 • RankRanked 18th
 • Density734/km2 (1,900/sq mi)
  • RankRanked 3rd
 • Ethnicity
98% White
1.1% Asian
0.7% Mixed
0.2% Black
Welsh language
 • RankRanked 19th
 • Any skills14.5%
Geocode00PM (ONS)
W06000020 (GSS)
ISO 3166 codeGB-TOF


Torfaen (meaning "breaker of stones") is an old name for the river – today called Afon Lwyd ("grey river") – which flows through the county borough from its source north of Blaenavon southward through Abersychan, Pontypool, and Cwmbran. The last three towns mentioned are a contiguous urban area.

Area characteristicsEdit

The area has a population of around 91,000. Much of the southern part of the county borough around Cwmbran is extensively urban. The north of the county borough is greener and retains extensive areas of countryside, especially on the route to Blaenavon.

The administrative centre is Pontypool in the centre of the county borough. Most of the administration of Torfaen County Borough Council is conducted from Pontypool Civic Centre.

Local landmarksEdit

The highest point of the county is Coity Mountain.

Pontypool ParkEdit

  • Pontypool Park is the name given to the former principal residence of Pontypool (now a secondary school) and the 160-acre (0.65 km2) park that surrounds it. The park contains Pontypool Leisure Centre and sports facilities and is the home of Pontypool RFC. The park includes a folly, shell grotto and ornamental ponds. Much of the area is given to woodland but there is extensive open grassland. The American Gardens were opened to the public in 2008, after being closed to visitors for many years, and a restoration project is under way. Torfaen County Borough Council is currently mapping all the trees from the park to remove and then replant those dying and diseased.[1]

Cwmbran CentreEdit

  • Cwmbran Centre is advertised as the second largest under-cover shopping centre in Wales. The centre includes many familiar high-street stores.
  • The former coal-mining and iron-working town of Blaenavon in the northern part of the county borough is now a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Torfaen has its own community radio station, Vitalize Radio, which is run entirely on a voluntary basis to serve the community. There is also the Cwmbran and District Amateur Radio Society, and Able Radio, who supports adults with autism and learning disabilities.

There are also various local community news services notably Inside Torfaen and Cwmbran Life whilst the South Wales Argus serves as the main newspaper.


Torfaen is historically a safe Labour Party seat. At present the MP is Nick Thomas-Symonds. Constituents in Croesyceiliog North, Croesyceiliog South, Llanyrafon North and Llanyrafon South wards are served by the Monmouth MP, Conservative David Davies. Torfaen is also a Senedd constituency, presided over by Labour MS, Lynne Neagle.

Torfaen Council has historically been a Labour-controlled authority, however the 2008 Local Elections saw Labour fail to win enough seats to hold a majority, resulting in a coalition with Plaid Cymru and Independent Councillors.

In the 2022 Local Elections, Labour regained majority control of Torfaen County Borough Council, winning 30 out of a possible 40 seats.


Secondary schools in the area are:

Further education, vocational training and some higher education is provided at Torfaen Learning Zone of Coleg Gwent in Cwmbran centre. Before this, further education was provided at the Pontypool campus

In 2012 Torfaen County Borough Council was criticised for keeping 2,400 laptop computers, originally intended to be used by secondary school pupils and teachers, unused for at least a year "because it couldn't figure out what to do" with the equipment, which originally cost over a million pounds.[2]


The borough is served by the Welsh Marches Line with stations at Pontypool & New Inn and Cwmbran. Services are operated by Transport for Wales. There is also the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway in Blaenavon.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Torfaen man's bid to make map of trees". South Wales Argus. 18 December 2008. Retrieved 19 April 2009.
  2. ^ Parnell, Brid-Aine (5 November 2012), "Welsh council's unused mountain of 2,400 laptops", The Register, retrieved 7 December 2012

External linksEdit

  • Torfaen at Curlie
  • Torfaen County Borough Council
  • American Gardens, Pontypool Park
  • Cwmbran, A Short History
  • Blaenavon, World Heritage Site
  • Torfaen constituency breakdown, 2001
  • Council and Democracy in Torfaen
  • Torfaen - Coat of arms (crest) of Torfaen

Coordinates: 51°43′N 3°03′W / 51.717°N 3.050°W / 51.717; -3.050