Abergavenny is known as the gateway to Wales. It is a small market town surrounded by verdant hills. The town itself has a tired, run down feel with lots of charity and cheap goods shops. The council have poorly managed the town, resisting rejuvenation and charging such high rates that many shops are forced to close down. When I first moved here it had some interesting shops and boutiques, but they have long-since gone.
Although there a number of affluent people in the surrounding area, much of Abergavenny itself consists of tough social housing estates with the usual anti-social behaviour problems. Most people who live in Abergavenny are from low socio-economic backgrounds. In the day, the town is full of elderly people and unemployed. At night, particularly at the weekends, the town is full of drunks and delinquents; a no-go area for decent people and there is an above average incidence of rape, particularly date rape type crime in the town.
Abergavenny is known to have a large drugs problem. There is very little here for young people to do and this has understandably led to many of the town’s problems. The council have built a small skate park and there are one or two youth groups, including air cadets. There are outward-bounds pursuits available in the areas surrounding Abergavenny, but these are only available to more affluent families. There is very limited funding to help young people from the less affluent estates.
The town is culturally lacking in every aspect, with a dismal theatre, and limited (non-existent) live music scene. There doesn’t appear to be any philosophy or foreign conversation clubs etc. Educationally, the town has no college and students must travel into England for quality A Level Provision. The nearest vocational college is poorly serviced by local transport. The local high school narrowly escaped special measures after a very disappointing Estyn Inspection, with many parents opting for the better schools across the borders.
In short, an uninspiring stop off point if you’re planning a trip to the Beacons, but nothing to want to hold you there. Crickhowell, a small attractive town just up the road, is a vastly better experience.