Industrial Wales - Monmouthshire's Eastern Valley
Blaenavon - West of the Afon Lwyd
From Forgeside to Waunavon via Coity and Mifraen
Search the site here

The Industrial Archaeology and History of the Eastern Valley

Click on the link to go to :-     Oakfield and Henllys     Cwmbran     Pontypool     Blaendare
The Glyn Valley     Tirpentws and Cwmffrwdoer     Blaenserchan and Cwmnantddu
Abersychan and Cwmbergwm     The British and Big Arch     Talywain and Varteg
    Blaenavon Town     Forgeside to Waunavon     The Blorenge and Pwlldu

Or click on the button to go to :-

Click on the thumbnail to enlarge a photo or map and sometimes read more about it.
Then click 'Full Size' on the toolbar to see it in all its glory.


Quick links to :-     Forgeside     Big Pit and the PBR     Blaentillery Colliery     Coity Quarry to Whistle Inn
    Whistle Inn to Waunavon     Marquis and Milfraen Colliery     Waunavon

Forgeside and Big Pit from the air

Aaron Brutes bridge - SO 2485 0880
Aaron Brutes level - SO 2480 0880

Aaron Brutes bridge is one of the oldest cast-iron bridges in the world, dating from 1812. The level just beyond it mined iron ore for the works and closed in 1843. By 2009 the bridge was unsafe but was restored and re-opened in 2013. It carried a tramroad from the level to the ironworks. Underneath the bridge is a small drainage level.

Johnsons (or Winstone) Colliery - SO 2484 0786
Forgeside Powerhouse - SO 2426 0861

Johnsons (or Winstone) Colliery, was a working colliery, not in general use but the subject of exploratory work during 2010. Forgeside Powerhouse was the original powerhouse for the Forgeside complex. the brick-built building is still in industrial use and dates from the 1920s. Next to it is the Forge Pond and a lot of foundations.

Big Pit and the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway

Quick links to :-     Forgeside     Big Pit and the PBR     Blaentillery Colliery     Coity Quarry to Whistle Inn
    Whistle Inn to Waunavon     Marquis and Milfraen Colliery     Waunavon

Big Pit - SO 2383 0880

Big Pit and its surroundings today

Big Pit after closure

Andy Coldridge took these photos of Big Pit shortly after it closed so either 1981 or 1982.

Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway

Working railways around Big Pit

Alan Murray-Rust took these photos of the railways around Big Pit during 1968 and 1969.

Blaentillery No 2 Colliery

Quick links to :-     Forgeside     Big Pit and the PBR     Blaentillery Colliery     Coity Quarry to Whistle Inn
    Whistle Inn to Waunavon     Marquis and Milfraen Colliery     Waunavon

A derelict colliery in January 2014 - SO 2350 0818

Sadly, over the four years since my last visit, work has ceased, the levels have been blocked and the surface facilities have been stripped and vandalised.

A working colliery in March 2010

Two levels and interesting selection of old drams, this is the colliery featured in the filming of the BBC's 'Coalhouse' series.

Below the surface in 2012

An underground visit just after work ceased and the levels sealed.

Coity Quarry to Whistle Inn

Quick links to :-     Forgeside     Big Pit and the PBR     Blaentillery Colliery     Coity Quarry to Whistle Inn
    Whistle Inn to Waunavon     Marquis and Milfraen Colliery     Waunavon

Coity Quarry - SO 2330 0830

Coity sandstone quarry was working by 1844 supplying stone for the ironworks, housing and collieries in the area and had closed by the mid-1880s. The prominent incline ran down through Coity Colliery to the Ironworks and coke ovens, the upper half closing with the quarry. The lower half continued until 1900 to serve the colliery, which was incorporated into Big Pit, becoming its upcast shaft. In the quarry are the remains of the brake wheel mechanism and other ironmongery, including a cast cog on the end of a wooden shaft. Next to the drum are a pair of rails leading from the drum to the tips and a fenced airshaft with a pulley hoist over it, which was connected to a level just below the quarry.

Coity Farm, level and reservoir - SO 2337 0928

Coity Farm was possibly medieval but the 'leftovers' are from C18th but considerably changed over the years.
An old level is shown on OS maps next to the farm, a very small level still exists in 2010, possibly just a drainage level from the coal levels above it.
A pond formed the basis of the 1861 reservoir supplying water to the Forgeside blast furnaces.

'Robens Folly' or Blaentillery Drift - SO 2315 0860

All that's left of the 1966 Blaentillery No 1 Level, known as 'Roben's Folly', is the very top of the entrance, the rest is buried beneath your feet. It was begun in 1966 and finished and abandoned in 1967. It was a 'folly' because it found no workable coal at all, just a lot of water. The level goes right through the mountain to Abertillery where the other end can be seen on the hillside at Blaentillery.

ADWB pipeline tunnel - SO 2291 0937

The Abertillery and District Water Board (ADWB) pipeline from Grwynne Fawr Reservoir to Abertillery enters the Coity Mountain here. The tunnel was built between 1912 and 1915 and is just short of a mile long. The gated concrete entrance and tips from excavation are easily found. I'm told there's a stop valve on top of Coity Mountain and, of course, there's the other end to find somewhere near Blaentillery farm.

Around the Whistle Inn - SO 2289 1010

Ty Rheinallt Farm (SO 2325 0960) was a c19th farmhouse, abandoned in 1967 due to subsidence. Next to it is a filled-in airshaft, possibly once ventilating the Garn Pits.

Whistle Inn to Waunavon

Quick links to :-     Forgeside     Big Pit and the PBR     Blaentillery Colliery     Coity Quarry to Whistle Inn
    Whistle Inn to Waunavon     Marquis and Milfraen Colliery     Waunavon

The LNWR between Whistle Inn and Wauavon.

Opencast workings - SO 2208 1094

The area opposite the Milfraen railway was the 'Black Lion' disposal point for the opencast coal workings on Cefn Garnyrerw in the early 1950s and again in 1972.

Marquess Red Ash and Milfraen Colliery

Quick links to :-     Forgeside     Big Pit and the PBR     Blaentillery Colliery     Coity Quarry to Whistle Inn
    Whistle Inn to Waunavon     Marquis and Milfraen Colliery     Waunavon

Marquess Red Ash Colliery - SO 2084 0963

Marquess Red Ash Colliery was opened by 1902 and shown as disused by 1922. The site consists of tips, old rails and stonework with the drainage level and the incline to Mifraen Colliery in amongst the bracken below.

Milfraen Colliery - SO 2179 1010

Milfraen Colliery opened in c1845, was rebuilt in 1865 and closed in 1933 following an explosion in 1929. It was retained for ventilation until the mid 1930s. The area has been cleared but the site of the shaft, foundations and earthworks remain.

Milfraen Colliery railway

The railway to Milfraen Colliery was a branch off the LNWR Blaenavon to Brynmawr railway. It opened in 1871, closed with the colliery in 1933 and was lifted in 1937. The line crossed the bog between the LNWR and the colliery on a solidly built formation, however the lowest point always seems to be flooded. There were sidings adjacent to Waunavon Station, later used by the opencast disposal point.


Quick links to :-     Forgeside     Big Pit and the PBR     Blaentillery Colliery     Coity Quarry to Whistle Inn
    Whistle Inn to Waunavon     Marquis and Milfraen Colliery     Waunavon

Waunavon and the LNWR line to Brynmawr

Windy, bitter and just a hint of sleet - What better a day for exploring the area around Waunavon? Soon got cold, wet and fed up so went home !! I'll have to go back and finish the job later ! The area includes many small mines including New Clydach Slope Colliery, Llammarch Slope Colliery, Waunavon Slope Colliery and two generations of Clydach Collieries.

New Clydach Slope Colliery - SO 2177 1169

The New Clydach Colliery Co Ltd dates from 1887 becoming the Waen Nantyglo Colliery Co Ltd in 1911. Following a cycle of openings and closures, the colliery was finally abandoned in 1947.

Waun Pwll Dwr levels - SO 2146 1116

The five or more levels around Waun Pwll Dwr first appear to have been worked from 1927 to 1930. They re-appear in 1937 owned by the matthews family until final abandonment in 1960.

Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

Thanks for the use of his photographs to Andy Coldridge and Alan Murray-Rust.

A Guide to the Website

All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins