OLD ABERDARE. Published by the Cynon Valley History Society. The Starling Press, 1976. Pp. 72. £ 1.50. This well-produced booklet is the first of a series of reprints the Cynon Valley History Society hopes to produce. It consists of an essay, 'Aberdare in 1837', written in 1897 by D. M. Richards, a local journalist, the Report to the General Board of Health on sanitary conditions by Thomas Ramell in 1853 (with a lucid survey of the historical background supplied by Mrs. Tydfil Thomas), and finally, 'Aberdare-A Descriptive and Historical Sketch', printed in 1885 by its probable author, Iago Lloyd. At first sight, Ramell's Report is of most interest for the 'hard' facts it contains and the information supplied by local worthies like Mr. Hopkin Rhys, mineral agent to the Aberdare Iron Company, who reported that, in addition to the 168 deaths in seven years from mass accidents at the collieries, single deaths averaged 'about twenty every year'. Perhaps this helps to explain the Reverend Thomas Price's complaint that, owing to inadequate water supplies, 'There is much immorality at the spouts, from people waiting there, and having nothing to do'. The connection between this mid-century concern with social health and allied social control is underlined by the later accounts of the pride taken in Aberdare's lists of schools and public amenities and places of worship. The old Aberdare, of 1837 and of 1853, is dismissed as a rude, uncouth place, now conquered, enlightened and illuminated. By 1885, 'It is well lit with gas', so the police had put aside their earlier objection to public lighting, that 'with more light (they) might not be able to pounce upon wary offenders'. This enterprising local history society has performed a valuable service in making available these revealing documents to a wider public. DAVID SMITH Cardiff