Industrial Wales - Monmouthshire's Eastern Valley
South and East Abersychan
Snatchwood, Lasgarn, Pentwyn, Cwmbyrgwm and Cwmsychan
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The Industrial Archaeology and History of the Eastern Valley

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Abersychan - from Snatchwood to Nant y Meilor

Quick links to :-     Pentwyn and Abersychan Town     Lasgarn     Cwmbyrgwm     Cwmsychan

Abersychan Quarry and Limeworks - SO 2710 0300

A fairly small quarry with a single limekiln in 1880 had grown to a very large concern with this massive limekiln by 1920. The quarry carried on into the 1960s by which time lime burning appears to have ceased.


Abersychan Brick Co, Pentwyn brickworks - SO 2665 0285

The brickworks at Pentwyn first appears on the 1901 map but by 1978 the site is marked "tips - disused". J Gregory & Co are listed in the 1906 Kelly's as being at Pentwyn, Abersychan, in both house and fire brick sections. Cope's Directory of 1907 lists Gregory, J & Co, Pentwyn Works. Kelly's of 1926 gives the Abersychan Brick Company as being at Pentwyn, Abersychan, presumably having taken over the site from J Gregory. The 1948 Industrial Directory of South Wales and Monmouthshire names the firm as Abersychan Brick & Slag Co, and in 1960, the same publication lists it as the Abersychan Slag Ballast Co. The last reference to this company is in the 1964 Industrial Directory of South Wales and Monmouthshire.
Bricks with the imprint "Gregory & Co, Pontnewynydd" are likely to have been produced at the same works as only the 'Oak Brickworks' is known to be at Pontnewynydd.

Rhiw Frank - SO 2695 0265

Small quarries alongside a possibly Roman Road

Abersychan Town

Nant-y-Maelor Reservoir - SO 2773 0452

Nant-y-Maelor Reservoir was built by the Pontypool Gas and Water Co by 1878. It had a capacity of 4,500,000 gallons and was topped up by water pumped from disused collieries. The water came from a spring and was contaminated so a tunnel was built from the underground spring to the reservoir in 1888. It was maintained until c1975 when the reservoir and tunnel were abandoned.

Cwm Lasgarn Quarry and tramroad

Quick links to :-     Pentwyn and Abersychan Town     Lasgarn     Cwmbyrgwm     Cwmsychan

Cwm Lasgarn railroad - SO 2702 0346 to SO 2820 0470

Cwm Lasgarn quarry opened in 1827 at the same time as the British Ironworks to supply it with limestone. A 3'8" gauge railroad ran from the quarry around the hillside through Lasgarn woods to an incline where it dropped down to the Afon Llwyd and back up to the Blaenavon railroad on the other bank. The railroad continued alongside and across the Blaenavon railroad (also 3'8" gauge) and up to the British Ironworks roughly along the route of the B4246. The quarries and railroad probably closed around 1854 when the Blaenavon railroad (MRCC) was converted to standard gauge and the Abersychan Incline opened. In any case pig-iron production had ceased at the British by 1876. The rails used were 18ft wrought-iron fishbelly rails with 3ft between sleepers.

The abutments and embankment to the MRCC on the river's West bank beside Valentine Road are well-preserved but only the foundations remain on the East bank (SO 2702 0346. The incline is visible again at the top where the brake house site occupied the flattened area (SO 2729 0341). The railroad meanders through the woods with many stone sleepers and a number of branches off to the East to many small workings. A stone-faced embankment (SO 2745 0384) goes round a deep hole (from quarrying?) and stream, where the original route may well have crossed straight over as there are signs of a former route. Another, shallower embankment (SO 2742 0416) crosses a lengthy depression.

Cwm Lasgarn quarries - SO 2820 0470

At the quarry the line branches off to the North and South of the large bank of spoil, on top of which was possibly the stockpile area, with evidence of railroads. The South branch rises up just before the spoil tip to pass through a short, partially-collapsed tunnel at SO 281045, apparently to the original workings. The North branch is hidden behind a jungle of brambles and bushes but leads to a fork where it appears two tunnels went through a bank to the quarry faces. The left-hand tunnel has been buried or collapsed but the right-hand tunnel is well-preserved and open for about 12ft. Both tunnels led to a number of forks some in stone-lined cuttings, which can be followed to the quarry face. In the faces some small caves or passageways are visible. The whole area around the quarry is now very overgrown.

Cwmbyrgwm Colliery and Pant Glas

Quick links to :-     Pentwyn and Abersychan Town     Lasgarn     Cwmbyrgwm     Cwmsychan

Pant Glas - SO 2545 0315

The Pant Glas slip occurred in 1860/61 burying the early workings of Cwmbyrgwm Colliery and some cottages. The trial shaft dates from the 1880s.

Cwmbyrgwm Water Balance - SO 2521 0325

The water balance pit has the the sad remains of its headgear scattered about the spoil tips. The rest of the site has been quite disturbed over the years.

Cwmbyrgwm Colliery - SO 2500 0335

The landmark engine-house chimney marks the site of Cwmbyrgwm Colliery, opened in the 1840s and finally closed around 1910 after a chequered history. The outlines of two shafts are a little to the East of the chimney and the incline from here can be followed down to the Talywain to Cwm-nant-ddu railway through SO 2524 0336.


Quick links to :-     Pentwyn and Abersychan Town     Lasgarn     Cwmbyrgwm     Cwmsychan

Cwmsychan Place - SO 2542 0420

Not sure whether this was one property but more likely a small group of cottages that were in existance before 1877. There are two stone-built culverts either side of the site.

Cwmsychan Colliery Tramway

The tramway wandered up from Navigation Colliery, much disturbed but easily followed.

Cwmsychan Red Ash Colliery - SO 2491 0436

Cwmsychan Red Ash Colliery was officially known as 'Abertillery and Tal-y-waun Collieries' (on 1902 OS map). There are two surviving buildings and some very interesting but unidentified foundations on the site. The colliery reservoir (SO 2490 0446) is fenced off but almost empty behind the buildings. The tramways leading to and from the colliery can easily be traced.

Cwmsychan Red Ash Colliery Engine House - SO 2491 0436

Only two buildings remain, one quite solid brick-built and another stone-built and rapidly disintegrating building.

Cwmsychan Red Ash Colliery Yard - SO 2491 0436

All manner of shafts, foundations, nooks and crannies, the purpose of many is quite obscure.

Cwmsychan Colliery Reservoir - SO 2490 0446

Supposedly drained but with our weather you can often find a decent amount of water in it (and a few fish).

Tramway to the British dam - SO 2480 0434

From the colliery a tramway runs West up the valley for nearly 1 mile to the British Ironworks dam, passing two levels to the North on its way. These levels appear to have worked between the 1st and 2nd World Wars and the site is clearly visible. The leat from the reservoir to the ironworks runs down the opposite side of the valley.

Cwmsychan Dam and levels - SO 2443 0413

The massive stone-built dam was built before 1880 to serve the British Ironworks, probably dating back to the start of the ironworks in the 1830s, using stone from the quarry on its South bank. It is marked as disused by 1953 but is still an impressive site and a very solidly built structure. The overflow is open at the North side and can be explored but mind the smell and the dead sheep!!

South of the dam

The level to the South of the dam has quite a draught emerging from it and may be the other end of the 1881 Cwmbyrgwm level.

North of the dam

The two levels to the North of the dam are not clear and are marked as 'old' on the 1922 map but don't appear on earlier editions. There are also signs of another level beyond and below the ruins of Ty Cwmsychan Farm.

Ty Cwmsychan Farm - SO 2420 0419
New Found Out Farm - SO 2463 0439

Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

Thanks to Walt Jabsco and Lawrence Skuse for providing the story of Pentwyn Brickworks.

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