Aberdare enjoyed a meteoric rise from a small village with medieval origins to a full-blown town over the course of a few decades in the mid-nineteenth century. Its rapid growth was fuelled by the iron industry and coalmining, and when they came to an end, they left behind a remarkably complete industrial town. A commercial and civic core is surrounded by a series of well-planned residential areas built on former fields. Each area has a dominant style of building and a distinctive character. In the town centre, the commercial buildings display their own style, including an unusual tradition of boldly decorated render. The residential streets have seen considerable change in recent years, but the distinctive styles adopted by different landowners at different times can still be seen, and there is some unusual detail.
The study provides information to support a Townscape Heritage Initiative focussed on the town centre, as well as planning and regeneration activity in the wider area.