The Neath and Brecon railway has a terminus in the town.
According to tradition Iestynap-Gwrgan, the last prince of Glamorgan, had a residence somewhere near the present town, but Fitzhamon, on his conquest of Glamorgan, gave the district between the Neath and the Tawe to Richard de Granaville (ancestor of the Granvilles, marquesses of Bath), who built on the west banks of the Neath first a castle and then in 112 9 a Cistercian abbey, to whose monks he later gave all his possessions in the district.
Neath is included in the Swansea parliamentary district of boroughs.
Copper smelting has been carried on in or near the town since 1584 when the Mines Royal Society set up works at Neath Abbey; the industry attained huge proportions a century later under Sir Humphrey Mackworth, who from 16 9 5 carried on copper and lead smelting at Melincrythan.
Neath is a borough by prescription and received its first charter about the middle of the 12th century from William, earl of Gloucester, who granted its burgesses the same customs as those of Cardiff.