1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Aberavon
ABERAVON, a contributory parliamentary and municipal borough of Glamorganshire, Wales, on the right bank of the Avon, near its mouth in Swansea Bay, 11 m. E.S.E. of Swansea and 170 m. from London by rail. Pop. (1901) 7553. It has a station on the Rhondda and Swansea Bay railway and is also on the main South Wales line of the Great Western, whose station, however, is at Port Talbot, half a mile distant, on the eastern side of the Avon. The valley of the Avon, which is only some three miles long, has been from about 1840 a place of much metallurgical activity. There are tinplate and engineering works within the borough. At Cwmavon, 11 m. to the north-east, are large copper-smelting works established in 1838, acquired two years later by the governor and Company of the Copper Miners of England, but now worked by the Rio Tinto Copper Company. There are also iron, steel and tinplate works both at Cwmavon and at Port Talbot, which, when it consisted only of docks, was appropriately known as Aberavon Port.
The town derives its name from the river Avon (corrupted from Avan), which also gave its name to a medieval lordship. On the Norman conquest at Glamorgan, Caradoc, the eldest son of the defeated prince, Lestyn ab Gwrgan, continued to hold this lordship, and for the defence of the passage of the river built here a castle whose foundations are still traceable in a field near the churchyard. His descendants (who from the 13th century onwards styled themselves De Avan or D’Avene) established, under the protection of the castle, a chartered town, which in 1372 received a further charter from Edward Le Despenser, into whose family the lordship had come on an exchange of lands. In modern times these charters were not acted upon, the town being deemed a borough by prescription, but in 1861 it was incorporated under the Municipal Corporations Act. Since 1832 it has belonged to the Swansea parliamentary district of boroughs, uniting with Kenfig, Loughor, Neath and Swansea to return one member; but in 1885 the older portion of Swansea was given a separate member.