On 7th September, over a thousand people are expected to descent upon Merthyr Tydfil for the largest independence rally the Valleys have ever seen. The eyes of the Welsh national movement, at least for the day anyway, will be on this historic town… my historic town. From the Merthyr Rising of 1831, in which the red flag of revolution was flown for the first time, to the great ironworks which powered the industrial revolution, the town has definitely secured its place in Welsh, if not world, history. It came as no surprise to me, as well as many others in Merthyr when, in 2013, the town was voted ‘the most important place in Welsh history’ by a panel in the Hay Festival. But what does Merthyr have that show for being the boiler room of an industrial revolution that swept the globe? And what of Rhondda, or Ebbw Vale, or so many of these important communities that so drastically altered Welsh, and indeed British life? Looming over the town like an ancient ruin, the great blast-furnaces of Cyfarthfa Ironworks lie derelict. The largest and most complete surviving specimens of their type anywhere, they are left to be consumed by weeds, to be worn down by the elements, and fall foul to...