Industrial Wales - Monmouthshire's Eastern Valley
The Blorenge, Pwlldu, Garndyrys and Tyla
following Hills Tramroad to Llanfoist
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The Industrial Archaeology and History of the Eastern Valley

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Pen-fford-goch to The Blorenge

Quick links to :-     Pen-fford-goch and the Blorenge Tramroad     Pwlldu's tunnels and quarries
Hill's Tramroad to Garnddyrys to Llanfoist     Tyla and Gilwern Hill

Pen-fford-goch coal and iron workings and tramroads

An old level on Pen-fford-goch

This level was discovered by Gwent Caving Club in 2016. It appears to be primarily an ironstone mine but also has small coal seams running through it as well. It would be typical of the small levels in the area

Upper Brick Yard - SO 250100

The Blorenge Tramroad

Pen-fford-goch tipping dock - SO 2540 1015
The quarries - SO 2692 1247

The 2ft gauge Blorenge Tramroad dates from c1793 but was disused around 1801 and the track lifted by 1813. Perhaps the limestone turned out to be poor quality. The tramroad starts from the tipping dock or staithe at Pen-fford-goch, below which another tramroad ran to the ironworks. The tramroad ran to shallow limestone quarries on the Western flank of The Blorenge. There appear to be three working areas at the end of the tramroad, some small workings down on the left, then a small quarry on the right-hand side and finally a long, narrow quarry as a continuation of the tramroad. At the right time, there are loads of wild strawberries here.

The Radio Station - SO 2634 1078

These buildings were an 'Auxiliary Unit Zero Station' from WW2. The small building further over appears to be similar but more recent, could have been a Met. Station.

Cefn-y-Galchen Colliery - SO 2647 1075

Cefn-y-Galchen Colliery appears on the 1881 OS map. The tips are minimal and the maps don't change over time so it doesn't seem to have produced much coal. Indeed it's on the very edge of the coalfield....

Hill's Tramroad - Pwlldu to Garnddyrys Forge

Quick links to :-     Pen-fford-goch and the Blorenge Tramroad     Pwlldu's tunnels and quarries
Hill's Tramroad to Garnddyrys to Llanfoist     Tyla and Gilwern Hill

Pwlldu Village - SO 2468 1151

Pwlldu Tunnel, Northern portals - SO 2456 1167

Pwlldu Quarry - SO 2515 1160

Pwlldu Quarry is believed to have opened c1819 supplying limestone to Garnddyrys Forge via a tramroad from the quarry floor. This can be seen below Hill's Tramroad where it crosses Rhiw Ifor. When Hill's Tramroad opened, it joined the quarry branch which then could also supply Blaenavon Ironworks. By 1836 the water-balance had been opened taking drams up to Hill's Tramroad, possibly following a landslip on the original branch. The quarry was disused from the closure of Garnddyrys in c1860 and all working finally ceased c1926.
The outstanding feature of the quarry is the water-balance shaft though the entrance tunnel is almost blocked. There are stories of choirs performing at its base as the acoustics are superb.
Boundary markers inscribed 'WL' for Walter Lewis and 'A' for the Earl of Abergavenny were around the quarry.

Pwlldu Quarry to Garnddyrys Forge

Balance pond for Pwlldu Quarry - SO 2519 1137

This is the reservoir that operated the balance shaft at Pwlldu Quarry. It also connected to the system of leats feeding Garnddyrys Forge ponds.

Pen Rhiw Ifor - SO 2540 1116

Latterly a smallholding but could have originally be for workers at Pwlldu Quarry.

Tumble blacksmiths and beerhouse - SO 2549 1125

A small group of buildings have been built into the embankment behind the tramroad, believed to be a cottage, blacksmiths, beerhouse and possibly a stable or barn, to the great relief of the tramroad drivers.

Tramroad approaching Garnddyrys

Hall's Tramroad - Garnddyrys Forge to Llanfoist

Quick links to :-     Pen-fford-goch and the Blorenge Tramroad     Pwlldu's tunnels and quarries
Hill's Tramroad to Garnddyrys to Llanfoist     Tyla and Gilwern Hill

Garnddyrys Forge - SO 2582 1200

Garnddyrys Forge in operation from about 1817 to 1861 as the 'Garnderris Iron Co' and was probably a puddling furnace with a rolling mill powered by water from Keepers Pond. Hill’s Tramroad passed through the site and was protected by a covered way, now split into two sections, with a side tunnel going towards the furnaces. There were two reservoirs connected by a culvert.

Garnddyrys to Llanfoist

The Tramroad to the top of the inclines to Llanfoist

The Tramroad tunnel on the Blorenge - SO 2721 1291

The three inclines to Llanfoist - SO 2773 1265

Llanfoist Wharf - SO 2846 1303

Tyla and Gilwern Hill

Quick links to :-     Pen-fford-goch and the Blorenge Tramroad     Pwlldu's tunnels and quarries
Hill's Tramroad to Garnddyrys to Llanfoist     Tyla and Gilwern Hill

From Pwlldu to the Tyla Quarries - SO 2451 1208

Originally the Tyla quarries were connected to Blaenavon Ironworks by a tramroad through Pwlldu to Keepers Pond and down towards Blaenavon. With the opening of the Pwlldu Tunnel the tramroad beyond the tunnel was closed. As the quarries expanded the tramroad was converted to a 3' 0" gauge tramway in 1885 and extended to Gilwern Hill. Locomotives were used betwen the quarries and Pwlldu tunnel.

Tyla East Quarry - SO 2465 1255

Tyla North Quarry - SO 2440 1290

Gilwern Hill Quarry - SO 2400 1325

Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

Thanks for the use of their photos to :- Gwyn Jenkins, Alan Murray-Rust
'Early Limestone Railways' by John Van Laun.

A Guide to the Website

All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins