The New Town of Cwmbran before 1850 or Some chit-chat about the lower Eastern Valley by Reginald Nichols Arthur Clark, the first Chairman of The Monmouthshire Local History Council, writing in its Bulletin No. 1 in March 1956, explained that 'the fundamental work of the Council is the popularisation, in the best sense, of the study of local history-the "democratisation" of the subject, if such an ugly word can be used for a worthy purpose' and a founder member has recently reminded the Executive Committee, in so many words, that the pages of 'The Gwent Local History Journal' (the succes- sor to the Bulletin) are not intended solely, or even primarily, or possibly at all, as a medium for the publication of learned disquisitions by erudite academics on esoteric subjects far beyond the ken of us un- schooled amateurs. There are, he believed, other journals more appro- priate for such manuscripts. It is with these thoughts uppermost in my mind that I am attempting to do a little 'democratising' or 'popularising', i.e. 'making more attractive to the average person' (Concise Oxford Dictionary), a few pages of our Journal. I have, therefore, scrabbled about in my historical freezer in a search for some jottings which, if thawed out and tarted up a bit, might possibly, if the Editor reads on one of her 'off' days (does she ever get any?), escape rejection and be glorified by a subsequent appearance in print. (Oh! the never-failing thrill which that affords to the vanity of any author even when no payment is made!) The first line of the title above might well be thought to embody an inherent contradiction, if not to be an arrant absurdity. Perhaps I should explain. The essay itself, and to some extent the title, arose from a grumble, which reached me indirectly a year or two ago, that 'Those "Monmouthshire Medleys" all deal with old towns in the county and include nothing about newer places'. I have reason to believe that the complainant (with whom I have have some sympathy) hailed from Cwmbran and that he had borrowed the 'Medleys' from his local library, a borrowing which impelled me to feel that there was no great moral obligation laid upon me to refund him the cost of a purchase which he had not made. There was, however, more than the question of the money involved (or rather not involved) and the criticism lingered with me for some time, largely because of the justice which, in an odd sort of way, lay behind it and the challenge which it implicitly offered. After losing some sleep over a few weeks I decided the challenge was one I could not ignore without grave injury to my self-respect as a self- appointed writer on some aspects of Monmouthshire's past. These poor and insubstantial lines are, then, the long-delayed result of such decision.