Bridgend has developed from a small, vibrant market town to a major regional industrial and service centre. Bridgend's position roughly equidistant between Cardiff and Swansea has made it a popular dormitary settlement for commuters to both cities.
Bridgend is perhaps most famously home to a Ford Motor Company engine plant, one of the areas biggest employers, but has also in the past had a significant presence by Japanese electronics giant Sony.
Cardiff Airport is located some 15 miles to the south east of the town. An hourly train service runs from nearby Rhoose to Bridgend and is served by a shuttle bus from the airport terminal. Buses also run to Cardiff where you can make a simple connection to Bridgend either by train or by bus.
Bristol Airport which serves a greater number of destinations than Cardiff Airport is located a further 30-40 miles east.
You are most likely to fly into the United Kingdom at either Heathrow Airport or Gatwick Airport, both located in and around London. In this case it is probably best to make a public transport connection to Wales at one of the major terminuses in London itself.
There is one major train station in the town. Bridgend Railway Station is located within a 3 minute walk of the town centre itself. A taxi rank and a bus stop are located outside. The station is fully staffed and has ticket sale facilities, refreshments and toilets. Entry is controlled by ticket barriers so you will require a ticket to enter/exit the platforms.
(Important Note : The current footbridge at Bridgend Railway station is a listed building and as such hasn't been upgraded to the statutory requirements for disabled users. To access platform 2 for Cardiff and London bound trains, disabled users are required to use an intercom located on a secured gate on the side of platform 2 to notify staff.)
Bridgend is a scheduled stop on the First Great Western service from London Paddington to Swansea. This is an hourly service.
All other services are run by Arriva Trains Wales. These services connect Bridgend to Cardiff, Barry, Swansea, Carmarthenshire, Pembrokeshire, Manchester, Birmingham and Western England. There is also an hourly service to the nearby town of Maesteg.
The other station in the town is Wildmill, an unstaffed station serving the districts in the north of the town. It is a scheduled stop on the hourly service between Maesteg and Cheltenham.
There are numerous pay-and-display car parks in the town centre and free ample parking at the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet about 2 miles from the town centre at Junction 36 of the M4.
Bridgend has a 11-bay Bus Station located in the centre of town. Buses are primarily run by First Group but there are also services by Stagecoach and Veolia. These services mainly serve the towns and villages around Bridgend.
Some services of note however are:
X1 Bridgend-Swansea - running via Pyle and Port Talbot.
224 Bridgend-Pontypridd- running via Pencoed, Llanharan and Talbot Green.
The pick up/drop off point for National Express long-distance services, is at the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet near the Odeon cinema. This is located about 2 miles from the town centre, which can be easily reached by connecting local bus services.
Bridgend has a compact town centre and can easily be walked around in 15 minutes. The town centre is pedestrianised and between 10am and 6pm is vehicle free.
There are numerous public footpaths linking to areas in and around Bridgend like Merthyr Mawr, Ogmore, Penyfai and Coychurch.
Bridgend is linked to the National Cycle Network (Celtic Trail) by a signposted, mostly segregated cycle lane from the town centre (near the Brewery Field) to Tondu.
There is also a segregated cycle path running east-west from the suburb of Brackla to the village of Laleston with a connection to the Bryntirion area of town.
The vast bulk of the roads in Bridgend are safe to cycle on, with extra care required at the larger roundabouts.
There are several taxi companies serving Bridgend, including but not limited to:
Allways Taxis - Tel:01656 652210
Radio Cabs - Tel:01656 655766
Village Cars - Tel: 01656 722161
1. Newcastle Castle, dramatically positioned on the hill overlooking the town centre, accessable via a set of stairs on Tondu Road opposite the Brewery Field. Entrance is free. The area around Newcastle is a conservation area that includes period properties and various other listed buildings of interest including St Illtuds Church.
2. Coity Castle, located in the village of Coity about 2 miles to the north east of the town. Free entry.
3. Ogmore Castle, located about 3 miles south of Bridgend near the estuary of the River Ogmore. There is a footpath from nearby Merthyr Mawr and the castle can be accessed by "stepping stones" over the river. Care must be taken when using the stepping stones. Free entry.
Royal Porthcawl Golf Club. Probably the most significant and famous golf course in the area, located on the outskirts of Porthcawl. Hosting the Senior's Ryder Cup in 2010. Links course. 18 holes. £££
Pyle & Kenfig Golf Club. Located closeby to the Royal Porthcawl. It's one of the best respected courses in the area. Links/Downland course. 18 holes. £££
Coed-y-Mwstwr Hotel & Golf Course. About 3 miles east of Bridgend, in the grounds of a Victorian mansion turned hotel. Parkland course. 18 holes. ££
Grove Golf Club. Opened in 1996 in Porthcawl. Has stunning views over the Bristol Channel. Parkland course. 18 holes. ££
Southerndown Golf Course. Tucked away on an undulating hillside overlooking the Merthyr Mawr Sand Dunes and Ogmore Castle. Downland course. 18 holes. ££
St Mary's Hotel & Golf Club. A championship-standard course located near M4 Junction 35 near Pencoed, complete with a Hotel. Parkland course. 18 and 9 hole courses. ££
Bridgend Golf Club. Just off the A48 road to south of the town. Includes a driving range. Parkland course. 9 holes. £
Bridgend Recreation Centre near the town centre has timetabled public swimming sessions between 12pm to 3.45pm and approximately 6pm to 9pm on weekdays with extended sessions at weekends. It costs around £3.50 for casual swimming.
The Recreation Centre also has a fully equipped gym and sports hall. Ask staff for details.
Afan Forest Park. The network of mountain trails is considered to be amongst the best in Western Europe. The park is located in the Afan Valley around 12 miles north of Bridgend and 5 miles north of Maesteg. Many of the trails are described as being only suitable for experienced or expert mountain bikers .
Restaurants & Bistros
There are no distinctly "upmarket" restaurants in the town, and you can expect to pay between £15-£30 for a three-course meal.
An Khang, Park Street, Bridgend - Vietnamese.
Braseria El Prado, High Street, Laleston - Spanish/Mediterranean.
Harlequin Restaurant, Bryngarw House, Brynmenyn, Bridgend - Traditional.
La Terrazza, The Old Bridge, Bridgend - Italian
Natraj Tandoori, Wyndham Street, Bridgend - Tandoori/Indian.
Old Cottage Bistro, Queen Street, Bridgend - Traditional homemade.
Paradise Balti, Nolton Street, Bridgend - Indian.
Poco Poco, Wyndham Street, Bridgend - Tapas Bar/Mediterranean.
Quaranta Sei, Broadlands Shopping Centre, Bridgend - Mediterranean.
Thai Orchid, Queen Street, Bridgend - Thai.
Zia Nina, Dunraven Place, Bridgend - Italian.
Most takeaways are clustered around Wyndham Street and Nolton Street in the town centre.
Cheese and Chips seems to be something of a local post-alcohol delicacy.
Bauhaus Coffee Shop, Wyndham Street, Bridgend - Indepedent Coffee Shop.
Cosy Cafe, Derwen Road, Bridgend - Traditional.
Cup & Saucer, Market Street, Bridgend - Traditional.
Ginny's Tea Room, Nolton Arcade, Nolton Street, Bridgend - Traditional.
Il Panino, Market Street, Bridgend - Italian Cafe.
Ty Coffi, Market Street, Bridgend - Traditional.
Domino's Pizza, Tremains Road, Bridgend and Quarella Road Bridgend.
Harvester's, The Derwen, Bridgend.
Subway, Caroline Street, Bridgend.
Toby Carvery, South Road, Bridgend.
McArthur Glen Designer Outlet has a food court home to McDonalds, Starbucks, Harry Ramsdens, Pizza Hut, KFC, Sidoli's Ice Cream and Fat Jacket's.
There is a second McDonald's and a second KFC at Bridgend Retail Park to the south of the town.
Note: Bridgend town centre is an alcohol exclusion zone meaning alcohol drinking is restricted to pubs, clubs and other licenced premises. Police have the power to confiscate alcohol from and issue fines to persons drinking alcohol outside the designated areas.
Angel Inn, Park Street, Bridgend.
Coity Castle, Morfa Street, Bridgend.
Jaggers Toll House, Derwen Road, Bridgend. Live music.
Old Castle Inn, Nolton Street, Bridgend.
O'Neills, Nolton Street, Bridgend. Irish theme pub.
Phoenix, Wyndham Street, Bridgend. Converted church.
Princess of Wales, Market Street, Bridgend.
Red Dragon, Litchard Hill, Bridgend. Family friendly gastro-pub.
Tair Pluen, Quarella Road, Bridgend. Sports themed pub.
The Railway, Derwen Road, Bridgend.
Riverside Tavern, Brewery Lane, Bridgend.
The Roof, Market Street, Bridgend. Pub-cum-nightclub.
Three Horse Shoes, Queen Street, Bridgend.
Ty-Risha Inn, Penycae, Bridgend.
Wyndham Arms, Dunraven Place, Bridgend. Wetherspoons chain pub.
Cody's, Derwen Road, Bridgend.
Hobos, Queen Street, Bridgend. Live music, especially rock/alternative.
Lava Ignite, Derwen Road, Bridgend.
Tom's Bar, Market Street, Bridgend. Live music.
There are numerous bed and breakfasts/guest houses scattered around the town.
The Wyndham Arms, Dunraven Place, Bridgend is a Wetherspoons lodge in the heart of the town centre. Rooms are from £40-£45 a night.
There are two Premier Inn brand hotels in the Bridgend area, one at The Derwen and one in Pencoed. Both have rooms in the £45-50 per night range.
Court Coleman Manor is in a Georgian era manor about 2 miles to the north west of Bridgend. Rooms rates vary greatly from £49 per night for a single room to £160 for a "themed" room. It also has a restaurant specialising in Indian cuisine.
Best Western Heronston Hotel, Ewenny Road. This is a three-star hotel located in the south of the town with a gym and swimming pool. Rooms are from £80-95 per night range.
Coed-y-Mwstwr Hotel is a Victorian manor house situated within woodland to the east of Bridgend overlooking a valley near the village of Coychurch. It is home to it's own 18-hole golf course. Rooms start from around £75 per night.
Bridgend is a relatively safe town by Welsh and UK standards. Care should be taken when in the town centre at night as alcohol related violence is a fairly common sight. Pickpockets have been known to target shoppers, especially the elderly in Bridgend town centre.
In general it is best to avoid people in the town centre at any time of day, people do tend to become aggressive after a few drinks, unfortunately this isn't confined to only the nighttime as the pubs are usually filled with the local alcoholics during daytime hours. However keeping yourself to yourself will usually see you fine and people are only encouraged by confrontation so ignoring any situations is the best way to avoid any problems
Bridgend recently come under the spotlight of the national and international media due to a cluster of suicides amongst young adults in the area.
The vast bulk of suicides took place, not in the town itself, but in the county which also shares the name Bridgend and has a population of over 130,000. Although the number of suicides was high, and unusual, the figures didn't vary wildly from the average for an area this size.
Many in the town felt that Bridgend had been misrepresented and that the probing by various media outlets may have helped contribute to some of the deaths.
It will almost certainly be considered rude to bring up the suicides in casual conversation as an outsider, especially if it's done in a derisory manner.