Looking at the local place names leaves no doubt that Blackwood and its environs were, at one time, 100 per cent Welsh. Situated within the historic boundaries of Monmouthshire, now Caerphilly, the advent of the iron and coal industry at the head of the valley changed all that; but more important, perhaps, was the construction of the Sirhowy Tramroad, linking Tredegar with Newport. The area originally called Coed Duon soon became known as Blackwood. It was a centre of Chartist organisation in the 1830s and the Newport Rising was planned here. The decline of the mining industry in the twentieth century reduced the population of the area and several rejuvenation schemes have now restored the pictorial landscape to its former glory, although there is still evidence of this former industry.
Ewart B. Smith is a well-respected and prolific author with more than one hundred school and college textbooks to his credit as well as several previously published titles such as the Blackwood Yesterday series and The Shipperke. His family has been resident in Blackwood, where Ewart still lives, since the 1800s.