If you travel semi-regularly to Neath via train, the station will tell you pretty much what to expect in both sight and smell as you disembark. In sight, you will see a decrepit, crumbling station that’s had a coat of paint to try and disguise the fact that no-one’s really looked after it since the 1970s.
In smell, the pungent stench of stale urine mixed with disinfectant as the cleaning staff vainly try and convince you that the place is actually clean, and not just a giant, expensive toilet for the local winos. It doesn’t work, and if you vomited and then promptly leapt back on the train to go on to Swansea which at least has a nice beach.
Circling the Drain
The powers that be basically gave up on Neath a long time ago, and now it’s a place which is mainly notable for being somewhere you would rather travel through than ever stay. The town center is moribund, with the local Marks and Spencer being the most high-class shopping destination for the Neath glitterati. There are some chain shops as well, but I’m not sure how many will stay there given the circumstances at the time of writing (September 2020). The town centre has the feel of somewhere permanently circling the drain, and will make the most sombre funeral feel like a high energy rave.
Neath Town Centre
There are periodic attempts to try and “revive” Neath town centre, but they always fail due to the fact that the planners then realise that Neath was, is and always will be ****. They then lose all interest and forget about it, compounding on the other urban renewal projects that were forgotten about. It’s rumoured that when God was making the Earth, He got to Neath, planned something special and then promptly was distracted by something else and lost interest, thus sealing the fate of the town for eternity.
As for the “nightlife”, there’s the Arch, and an assortment of pubs near the station on Windsor Road. Activities on offer include counting the teeth of the other people you meet to see how many they have left (if you reach double digits, you’re meeting with one of the town’s elite), seeing who can leave the biggest pool of vomited up Tennessee Fried Chicken for others to step in, and the iconic Neath game of Dodge the Taxi, where you drunkenly run around in The Parade and see how long you can survive without being run over by taxis taking people to the nearby (by comparison) bustling, cosmopolitan metropolis that is Swansea.
But look on the bright side: if you aren’t originally from Neath, you’ll probably be just travelling through it and will only experience it for probably an hour at the most. Just pop on a nose peg and slam your foot down on the accelerator, and soon Neath will be an unpleasant, fading memory.