The final talk of my mini book tour of South Wales on the 3 October 2013 on the publication in the UK of the tenth in the DI Andy Horton crime series, Death Surge, was at Neath Library.
The town of Neath is situated in the principal area of Neath Port Talbot located on the River Neath. It was a market town that expanded with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century with the new manufacturing industries of iron, steel and tinplate. But just as with the other towns in the valleys of South Wales, it suffered from the decline of those industries, and the economic downturn in recent years. There is however a thriving library community and a magnificent Public Library building opposite Victoria Gardens, laid out in 1897.
Here I met with many interesting and friendly readers who were offered tea, biscuits and chocolates on arrival. I talked about my crime novels and my rugged and flawed detective, DI Andy Horton.I also answered some searching questions and signed copies of my crime novels after my talk.
The Neath area is teeming with history. There are Bronze-Age burial chambers and Iron-Age hill forts nearby and the Romans constructed a fort at what is now Neath Abbey in the first century AD. With the Norman Conquest of Glamorgan Sir Richard de Granville defeated the local Welsh Lords and established a timber motte and bailey castle near Neath Abbey in 1129. This was later destroyed by the native Welsh Lords. A second castle was erected on the east bank of the River Neath - the site of the present castle. Intermittent warfare between the Welsh and the Normans continued for the next 150 years but peaceful conditions from the 14th century onwards allowed the village to develop and for commerce to expand. A river bridge was erected in 1320, trade flourished and regular markets were held.
To this day there is a market and fair attracting Traders from the UK and Europe for the four day event in September around the streets of Neath Town Centre.
I enjoyed my trip to Neath and my thanks to Paul Doyle for organising it and hosting the event.