Ynysawdre Parish Room was built 100 years ago following a meeting of local people known as a Parish Meeting. Before the hall was built, the council and parish meetings were held in local public houses including the Llynfi Arms and the Fox and Hounds as well as a Coffee Tavern in Tondu. The new parish hall or “Room” as it was then called played an important part in the early development of education in the Parish.
Ynysawdre Parish Council was established under the Local Government Act 1894. It’s first chairman was Councillor W. Parker. At parish meetings held in the Fox and Hounds 31st March 1896, the Council decided to build its own hall. A lease was acquired from Lord Dunraven on a plot of land adjoining Mr. Hurley’s workshop at Felin Fach farm.
The Council had a loan of £350 to pay for the building of the hall by a firm of Messrs Rattery and Jenkins. Meanwhile the Education Board, who had applied for a pupil teacher, asked the Council for permission to hold classes in the Hall; cloakroom and toilets were added along with a moveable partition to divide the room for boys and girls. This work was undertaken by Mr. G Mathews of Aberkenfig at a cost of £98.
The first recorded meeting of Ynysawdre Parish Council in the new Parish Room was on 29th November 1898
Mrs Magor was appointed as cleaner. From 1899 until opening of the Brymenyn County Primary School in 1913, classes were held at the “Ynysawdre School”. The head teacher was Mr. D. John assisted by Miss Sarah Thomas and Miss Sarah Jane Howells (who on 19th December 1911 lost her life attempting to save a pupil called Bertie Gubbins from the nearby Lynfi river).
The Hall was later used for many years as a School Cookery room. In 1974 a community run playgroup was opened in the Hall.
The Council still continues to meet monthly on Tuesdays in the Ynysawdre Parish Room.
The community of Ynysawdre is home to several notable buildings. Tondu Ironworks is an important ruminant of Britain’s industrial heritage. Built in 1820 by Sir Robert Price, the ironworks, although derelict, still survive as a series of large roofless stone buildings. Structures surviving include the charging bank, the blast-engine house, a range of seven iron ore calcining kilns, each 62ft by 32ft in size, and over a hundred beehive-shaped coking kilns. The calcining and coking kilns are rare surviving examples of the thousands of kilns once found throughout Britain.
Other notable remains from the area’s industrial past include Aberkenfig Railway Bridge and Glan-Rhyd Railway Viaduct, two horse-drawn railway bridges, both built in the 1920s.
Ynysawdre is home to Coleg Cymunedol Y Dderwen, a large English-medium comprehensive school which serves the Garw and Ogmore valleys. Y Dderwen was formerly the two schools of Ynysawdre School and Ogmore School; Ynysawdre was based on Y Dderwen’s current site and Ogmore School was based in the nearby village of Bryncethin. Y Dderwen’s new building will be open in 2013; until then the school will operate on a split site basis using the current buildings of Ynysawdre and Ogmore, with the new building being built alongside Ynysawdre.
Ynysawdre is also home to Brynmenyn Primary School, a small school with its own nursery. Tondu primary school is located in the village of Aberkenfig.
Ynysawdre is the location of Pandy Park, home of Tondu RFC. Pandy Park houses numerous football and rugby pitches. Ynysawdre Pool and Fitness Centre is located on Heol-Yr-Ysgol, one of the main roads.