In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Briton Ferry like this:
BRITON-FERRY, a village and a parish in Neath district, Glamorgan. The village stands at the mouth of the Neath river, the end of the Neath canal, and the terminus of a short branch of the South Wales railway, 2½ miles SSE of Neath; and has a head post office.‡ Large docks were formed here in 1861 and previous years, aided by £20,000 from the Vale of Neath Railway Company; they comprise a tidal and floating area of 27 acres, and are provided with Armstrong's hydraulic machinery; and they will afford shipping accommodation to the mineral districts of Aberdare and Merthyr-Tydvil, nearer than that at Cardiff. ...
The village is likewise the port of Neath; has undergone much recent increase; and promises soon to be an important town. The parish bears also the name of Llansawel; and comprises 1,593 acres. Real property, £8,640; of which £2,400 are in iron-works. Pop., 3,781. Houses, 627. The manor belonged formerly to the Mansells; and belongs now to the Earl of Jersey. The local scenery and the distant views are very fine. The view from a hill includes great part of the basin and screens of Bristol channel; and that from the churchyard is celebrated by Mason. The living is a vicarage in the diocese of Llandaff. Value, £124. Patron, the Earl of Jersey. The church is good, quaint, and pretty.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Briton Ferry has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Neath Port Talbot. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Briton Ferry and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Briton Ferry, in Neath Port Talbot and Glamorgan | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 23rd May 2013
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