Situated about 6 miles north-east of the centre of Swansea, the town has a population of nearly 20,000. Neath was a market town that expanded with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution in the C18th with new industries of iron, steel and tinplate. The River Neath is a navigable estuary and town was a river port until recent times. The heavy industries are no more with the town being a commercial and tourism centre.
Neath Abbey was established in 1129 by Savigniac monks from Normandy and was absorbed into the Cistercian order in 1147. Archaeological excavations took place between 1924 and 1935 and fairly complete remains of the abbey survive, together with the C16th mansion raised within its precincts. Aberdulais Falls near Neath is in the care of the National Trust in recognition of the site's value as a key part of the region's industrial heritage.
Power has been drawn from the waterfall since 1584, when it first provided energy used in the manufacture of copper. The copper-works ceased to operate early in the C17th and the site was subsequently used for corn-milling and later as a tinplate works. The weir and waterwheel were added during the C19th.