Rees Hopkin Rhys (1819-1899) A mineral agent, magistrate, coroner, landowner, farmer, colliery proprietor, brick manufacturer, gas manufacturer, tax commissioner, and highly influential figure with respect to the development of Aberdare in the nineteenth century. He was born in Llwydcoed House on 19 March 1819 and died in Plasnewydd, Llwydcoed, in 1899. He was elected to the Merthyr Board of Guardians, in 1846, but in the following year lost his sight completely in an accident while experimenting with gun-cotton at the Dowlais Works. Despite this, he was elected to the Aberdare Local Board of Health in 1854, to the Aberdare Burial Board in 1857 and to the Aberdare School Board in 1874, later becoming the Chairman of all three bodies. He was the Chairman of the Trecynon Industrial School Committee from 1877 to 1887, and became a Governor of the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire in 1883. He was High Constable of Miskin Higher, 1891. He was elected to the Urban District Council of Aberdare in 1894, and at its first meeting in January 1895 was elected Chairman. He was also a member of Glamorgan County Council. He continued to hold the AUDC chairmanship until his death on 13 August 1899. It was due to his zeal and tenacity that the local water supply was brought into public ownership and considerably extended and improved. He was also influential in the procurement of other public works such as the establishment of Aberdare Park, Dumfries Park and the town’s sewerage system.
The bust presented to him by the Merthyr Board of Guardians in 1881 can be seen in the Cynon Valley Museum in the Gadlys. His service on the Board was continuous for 53 years until his death.
He was buried in Penderyn churchyard. An account of the funeral can be found here from The Cardiff Times, 19 August 1899, page 6.