Industrial Wales - Monmouthshire's Eastern Valley
The Cwm Ffrwd-oer Valley
From Plas-y-coed to Blaen-y-cwm and the Canyons
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The Industrial Archaeology and History of the Eastern Valley

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Quick links to :-     Plas-y-coed     Pen Tranch     Tirpentwys
    Gelli-deg Farm     Black Barn Colliery     Blaen-y-Cwm     Hafodyrynys Canyons

Plas-y-coed Brickworks and Eastern Valleys Black Vein Colliery - SO 2622 0137

Plas-y-coed Brickworks and Eastern Valleys Black Vein Colliery shared the site immediately to the West of the LNWR viaduct. The drainage level emerges beside the stream on the Eastern side of the viaduct. Little remains of the colliery now but rough ground.

Plas-y-coed Colliery - SO 2580 0095

Plas-y-coed Colliery was open from 1885 to 1923. Again not much remains but the top level is a culvert under the road. There were also two small levels on the other side of the road, one of stone and the other metal arched.

There were other levels in the area including three comprising Plum Tree (or Cwmfrydoer) Colliery, open from before 1886 to at least 1908. These may have been on the other side of the valley but the location is obscure

Ty Bwmpyn Road bridge - SO 2558 0070

Penrhiwfid, Daley's Level - SO 2567 0134
Penrhiwfid Farmhouse - SO 2526 0121

Daley's Level was active in the 1920s. The site nestles in remote woodland and you can follow the access track down to what looks like a loading bank on the lane from the ruins of Penrhiwfid Farmhouse.

Pen Tranch

Quick links to :-     Plas-y-coed     Pen Tranch     Tirpentwys
    Gelli-deg Farm     Black Barn Colliery     Blaen-y-Cwm     Hafodyrynys Canyons

Pen Tranch Colliery - SO 2646 0112
Pen Tranch tramway - SO 2590 0085

The levels at Pen Tranch are shown as 'old' on the 1880 OS map but were re-worked between 1901 and 1920 when they were linked to Tirpentwys Colliery by a 2' 8" gauge tramway to the landsale yard on Pantygasseg Road. Given the substantial bridge under Pantygasseg Road, it seemed possible that the narrow-gauge steam locos from the colliery would have worked through to Pen Tranch. The 1903 newspaper cutting appears to give a lot of weight to the idea.


Quick links to :-     Plas-y-coed     Pen Tranch     Tirpentwys
    Gelli-deg Farm     Black Barn Colliery     Blaen-y-Cwm     Hafodyrynys Canyons

Tirpentwys Colliery - SO 2471 0000

Tirpentwys Colliery (originally known as Cwm-ffrwd-oer Colliery or Gelli) was the largest in Cwm-ffrwd-oer, working from 1868 to 1969 and included a small level known as Black Vein. After closure the whole area was cleared, used as a rubbish dump and now landscaped. There are the remains of a large building at SO 2465 0000 beside a small quarry. A steam-hauled 2'8" gauge tramway ran from the colliery to a landsale yard at SO 2548 0029 from 1901 to 1919 and appears to have gone as far as Pen Tranch.

Ty-gwyn Llantwit Colliery - SO 2418 0028

Ty-gwyn Llantwit Colliery overlooked Tirpentwys from the Western side of the valley. There are overgrown tips at the head of the track down to Tirpentwys and the site of a shaft at SO 2419 0003. It was working by 1881 but closed c1904. Much of the area below Ty-gwyn was tipped over and the 'ironmongery' might well be the head of the line up from Tirpentwys.

Gelli-deg and Ty Shewy

Quick links to :-     Plas-y-coed     Pen Tranch     Tirpentwys
    Gelli-deg Farm     Black Barn Colliery     Blaen-y-Cwm     Hafodyrynys Canyons

Gelli-deg Colliery - 2458 0039

The tramway up to Blaen-y-cwm Colliery passed behind Gellideg Farm to reach the small Gelli-deg Colliery, working on and off from the 1880s but probably disused by c1920. This might be the site of the mysterious 'Glyn and Gelli Colliery' who were responsible for building the tramway.

Ty Shewy Colliery - SO 2438 0058

Further along the tramway was Ty Shewy Colliery, owned in the 1930s by C Morgan of Ty Shewy Farm. It was working on and off from the 1880s to the late 1930s but now just the tips remain.

Gelli-deg Farm

I visited Gelli-deg Farm in 2013 and it was an amazing site of dereliction and dis-use just waiting to be recorded before it collapsed completely.

Black Barn Colliery

Quick links to :-     Plas-y-coed     Pen Tranch     Tirpentwys
    Gelli-deg Farm     Black Barn Colliery     Blaen-y-Cwm     Hafodyrynys Canyons

Black Barn Colliery - SO 2405 0070

Black Barn Colliery was a rarity in South Wales, a recently working small mine. Black Barn appears to have been open from 1991 to 1995 when it was abandoned. It re-opened in 2001 prmarily to test the 'Celtic Miner' machine. There are two levels, the upcast occupied by the conveyor system, the downcast by the tramway leading to an ingenious tippler that tips the whole tram. Unfortunately, in 2009, the mine closed and most of the equipment was moved elsewhere. By 2013 there was very little left and a couple of years later the site was completely cleared and the levels sealed. It is hard to tell where the levels were now.

Hard at work in 2008

Not working in 2010

Not much left in 2013


Quick links to :-     Plas-y-coed     Pen Tranch     Tirpentwys
    Gelli-deg Farm     Black Barn Colliery     Blaen-y-Cwm     Hafodyrynys Canyons

Blaen-y-cwm Colliery - SO 2391 0096

Blaen-y-cwm Colliery was operated at one time or another by the Llanhiddel Co or the Blaen-y-Cwm Coal Co. It was an old mine, working from before 1802, being attacked by 'Scotch Cattle' in 1832, and closing around 1895. There are still some old tips to be seen but the working area has disappeared under the opencast and forestry work. A bricked-up ventilation adit is beside the lane in front of Tyr Ysgubor Ddu Cottage. There was also a small level known as 'Blaen-y Cwm' nearby run by the Desmond family in 1947.
Originally Blaen-y-cwm Colliery used the 'Railroad' which ran on the Western and Southern sides of the valley, in front of The Masons Arms, along the side of the Glyn Valley and down an incline to Old Furnace. Later a tramway was built on the Eastern and Northern side of the valley. More details of these are below.

Blaen-y-Cwm Railroad c1800 - c1855

The Blaen-y-Cwm Railroad dates from c1800 to the 1850s following the Western and Southern sides of the valley. It followed the lane to Pant-y-Gasseg village, on to Coch-y-North and down an incline to Old Furnace. The incline was one of the few using a chain for haulage but it was too much of a deadweight and was replaced with a rope. Other than its route, there is little evidence of its railroad days but I've finally found a stone sleeper near Tir-pentwys Farm - there may be more!

Blaen-y-Cwm tramway c1860 - c1895

Some time before 12 May 1860 a new tramway, promoted by the 'Glyn and Gelly Colliery' owned by Jenkins and Edwards, was opened on the Eastern and Northern sides of the valley. This went down an incline to the valley floor at Ysbrydion, OS maps show this incline going straight down the valley side but evidence on the ground shows it going down diagonally. It then went back up an incline to Pant-y-Gasseg, passing behind the Masons Arms and going down a third incline to Cwm-y-Glyn Colliery on the old Crumlin Road in the Glyn Valley. At that time the GWR Cwmffrwdoer branch had not been built.

In 1877 Cwmffrwdoer Colliery, better known now as Tirpentwys Colliery, opened and the first incline then terminated at Gellideg Sidings on the new GWR branchline. I assume that the two inclines to Cwm-y-Glyn became redundant. The tramway closed before 1899, probably with the closure of Blaen-y-Cwm Colliery itself.

Hafodyrynys Canyons

Quick links to :-     Plas-y-coed     Pen Tranch     Tirpentwys
    Gelli-deg Farm     Black Barn Colliery     Blaen-y-Cwm     Hafodyrynys Canyons

Pantygasseg Colliery and the Eastern Canyon - S0 2388 0141

Hafodyrynys Canyons were formed by NCB opencast work begun in 1954 and closed down in 1963. They are now partially flooded and forested. An aerial ropeway ran from the Eastern end across the hill to Blaenserchan in the Cwm-nant-ddu valley and the concrete loading bases remain but this was more likely used for the waste from Blaenserchan. The disused canyons also became the home to two small mines. The sites are difficult to spot in amongst the general dereliction but there are still signs of them about.

Pant-y-gasseg Colliery in the Eastern canyon opened in 1972, reputedly the last horse-worked mine in South Wales in 1999, It closed soon after and the levels were sealed in 2003. The levels have been sealed but odd rails can be found. A newer level to the left and in front of the other two is quite prominent.

Rithan Colliery and the Western Canyon - S0 2335 0157

Rithin Colliery in the Western canyon again opened in the early 1970s but was closed by 1995. Having finally scrambled down to take a look, there is a little to see, some hefty wire cables and some almost buried rails. Up by the Blaencuffin end is a sealed level, possibly the second exit, suitably fenced off by the Coal Board.

Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

Tirpentwys Colliery by Steven Oakden - Industrial Railway Record, issue 214
The Tirpentwys Story by John Cox - 'Archive' magazine, issue 51 (the story of the canyons opencast)
Small Mines of South Wales by A J Booth, vols 1 and 2 - Industrial railway Society (Pantygasseg and Rithan Collieries)
Blaen-y-cwm Railroad incline is mentioned in Early Limestone Railways by John Van Laun.
Pen Tranch newspaper cutting from Brian Walker.

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