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Local History

Risca  (Welsh: Rhisga) is a town of approximately 11,500 people in south-east Wales, within the Caerphilly County Borough and the historic boundaries of Monmouthshire.

It is today part of the Newport conurbation (which as a whole has a population of 140,200), though it is not a Ward of Newport City Council. Risca has a railway station, opened on the Ebbw Valley Railway in February 2008, after a gap of 46 years.

The town lies at the south-eastern edge of the South Wales Coalfield and a coal mine used to operate in the town with terraced housing nearby for miners. On 1 December 1860 an explosion at the Black Vein Colliery at Risca killed more than 140 men and boys as well as 28 pit ponies.

Risca is home to Ty-Sign, which is a large housing estate built in the early 1960s as a satellite village for the then new Llanwern steelworks.

Risca has a rural aspect and is surrounded to the east and west by several extensively wooded hills  including Mynydd Machen (1,188 ft/362m) and Twmbarlwm  (1,375 ft/419m) which attract tourists for the hillwalking and mountain bikers to Cwmcarn Forest Drive.

Notable landmarks and buildings

Twmbarlwm, has the remains of an Iron Age hill fort near its summit, and this is believed to have been built by the Silures, the Celtic tribe that inhabited the area before and during Roman times.

The Welsh Oak, a pub on the outskirts of Pontymister, was the meeting place for the Chartists before they marched on Newport during the Newport Rising of 1839.

The local Church in Wales church is dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin . The St Mary and St Mercurius Coptic Orthodox Church in St Mary Street is a grade II listed building and is the first Coptic Orthodox Church in Wales. It was a former Wesleyan Methodist church, founded in 1837, rebuilt on the same site in 1852 and was dedicated to St John. The architect is unknown. The church was designed to seat 600 people. It was later known as "Trinity Methodist Church".

The park 'Tredegar Grounds' was donated to the people of Risca in 1897 by Lord Tredegar to commemorate Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee and in return the 'Jubilee' statue was erected by public subscription 'in recognition of Lord Tredegar's generosity to the neighbourhood.' A small bronze statuette of Samson, a bearded figure dressed in a loincloth, stands on a circular stone plinth on a square stepped base.

The town is served by Risca and Pontymister railway station which is served by direct trains between Cardiff Central and Ebbw Vale Parkway. The Monmouthshire canal passes through the town.

Place Names

Tŷ Sign (originally from  tir+y+sygn or sugn)

A curious example of what appears to be very literally a bilingual name with the first word semingly in  Welsh and the second in English.  Recorded as The Signe in 1654, Kaye nessa yr Signe 1685, Tyr y Signe 1760 and the current spelling appears in 1832 as Ty-Sign. 

The name may come from "tir" and an old Welsh word "sygn" (originally the Latin signum and then Old English segn or Old French signe) meaning a sign of the Zodiac or possibly it comes from the Welsh word "sugn", which means "suction" as there may have been very marshy or boggy land in the area.