Industrial Wales - Monmouthshire's Western Valley
Beaufort and Rassau
Beaufort and its Tramroads and Railways
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The Industrial Archaeology and History of the Western Valley

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Beaufort Ironworks and Hills

Quick links to :-     Beaufort Ironworks and Hills     Trefil and Rassau Railroads
Tramroads at Garnlydan     Beaufort Brickworks

Clydach Railroad through Beaufort

The Clydach Railroad travelled through Beaufort from Carmeltown following the main A4047 until forking off to the right, behind the theatre.

Beaufort Station, tunnel and tramroads
Parfitts Pit horseway- SO 1695 1167

There is an old level entrance, probably to Parfitts Pit, the new railway was built over the original entrance. Jeff Taff Thomas recalls "That was a dead end, the passage went in for about 30 mts and then you turned to the right and then to the left and then hit a brick wall squared off. My old cigarette butt ends are probably still in there."
Geoff Palfrey has researched it :- "This pit at SO 1694 1181 was another balance pit, named after the contractor, Parfitt, maps show its location allowed shales, probably from the Old Coal seam, to be terraced to the north. Its balance pond is now filled in. A level exists below it and is probably its horseway, the new railway embankment had to provide access through it. It is probably joined to the Viaduct Level to the north east, another portal affected by the new railroad and its stone viaduct."

Beaufort Ironworks - SO 1695 1125

There's nothing left of Beaufort Ironworks (1779 - 1874) but 'Beaufort House' lasted a lot longer. It was the home of the ironmasters, the Kendalls, before serving as an isolation hospital school and offices until it, too, was demolished. 'Beaufort Hills Miners Welfare Hall' and Richard Whitcombe have kindly provided these photos.

Old Bryn Farm level - SO 1800 1216

One of the many old levels in the area, it looks like the pond was the flooded entrance, the level being in the North-West corner.

Bryn Pit - SO 1769 1241

Bryn Pit was an early 18th century ironstone and coal mine which was closed in the 1880s. However the workings were part of an underground drainage system and the pit was retained for maintenance until the closure of Ebbw Vale steelworks and is still a secure site. Also it is thought trams of iron-ore were actually lowered down the shaft to to be transported underground to Winch's pit, Nant-y-glo, for the ironworks there.

Blaen-y-Cwm Reservoir - SO 1735 1360

Blaen-y-Cwm Reservoir started life before 1813 as a water supply for Nantyglo Ironworks, greatly enlarged in 1936 and further improved in 1942. This was when the quarry and tramway were in use.

Geoff Palfrey says "I was told that after the new dam was built the reservoir would not flood, water was flowing into the old iron and coal workings and running to adit and these had to be bashed off. The leakage of water exceeded construction budgets and the company had to borrow 1.3M pounds in July 1936, the budget for the works doubled from 4.5M to 8.5M, Sir William Firth, the brilliant innovator who did more than any other to revitalize the site took the hit from the banks and nay sayers and was forced to resign in 1940 and died in 1957, however, the works repaid its debts fully by the end of WW2. I was running in a new KTM dirt bike in the winter of 1979 in the area and stopped to look into what I thought was a fox hole in a gulley, I bent over to look in and found that I was looking back under where I was kneeling on the tramrails planks and dirt cap of an old stone lined shaft, O level physics and snowballs showed it to be about 60 foot deep and solid at the bottom. The whole area is honecombed with outcrop and shallow mines, the Bryn Pit south of the reservoir was open until recently for water for the works in Ebbw ".

The Trefil and Rassau Railroads

Quick links to :-     Beaufort Ironworks and Hills     Trefil and Rassau Railroads
Tramroads at Garnlydan     Beaufort Brickworks

The Trefil and Rassau Railroads

The Trefil Railroad ran from Ebbw Vale Ironworks to Beaufort where it met the Rassa Railroad (both were actually rail roads using edge rails rather than tramplates). The Rassau Railroad went as far as Trefil Machine (a weighing machine) and The Trefil Tramroad continued up the Sirhowy Valley to Trefil itself. Trefil quarries were the destination of the the Trefil Railroad, the Tredegar Tramroad, the Rhymney Tramroad and the Brinore Tramroad, the Clapham Junction of tramroads !
The Trefil Railroad dates from 1796 as a 3'8" rail road and converted to a 3'9" tramway in 1908 using steam locomotives. As Ebbw Vale Steelworks grew, the tramway was itself converted to a standard gauge railway in 1922. A new line was built from Ebbw Vale to Trefil Machine and the old line re-aligned in places to Trefil Quarry. The line closed in 1964 and much of it has been eaten away by urban re-development. The original routes can still be followed from Beaufort to Trefil.

Tramroads at Garnlydan

Quick links to :-     Beaufort Ironworks and Hills     Trefil and Rassau Railroads
Tramroads at Garnlydan     Beaufort Brickworks

Viaduct Level tramroad - SO 1648 1173

Viaduct Level tramroad ran from the coke ovens at Beaufort Ironworks up Nelson Street and Wesleyan Place to the level which tunnelled beneath the MT&AR embankment. It appears on the 1880 map even though the ironworks had closed in 1874. It was not shown in 1900.

Garnlydan tramway - SO 1737 1247 (Centred at Ty Coch)

Garnlydan tramway ran from the coke ovens at Beaufort Ironworks along Cwm Gwybedog to serve levels and quarries up to Garnlydan. A long branch ran over the moor, past Bryn Pit and others, to Rhas Fach above Brynmawr where it joined Baileys Disgwylfa Tramroad in Clydach Dingle. From there it connected to the Brecon Boat Co's levels in Clydach Gorge. It appears on the 1880 map even though the ironworks had closed in 1874. The tramway, quarries and many of the levels had gone by 1901.

Cwm Gwybedog Colliery, Beaufort - SO 1675 1210

I must have driven past this level on the Llangynidr Road many times but have only just noticed it. Eyes wide shut.... Ray says that one level, opened in 1786, claimed to be the first in this area. There were many small levels on the 1877 OS map but the original 'Heads of the Valleys' road and associated reclamation has changed the landscape totally.

Beaufort Brickworks

Quick links to :-     Beaufort Ironworks and Hills     Trefil and Rassau Railroads
Tramroads at Garnlydan     Beaufort Brickworks

Beaufort Brick Co Ltd, original site - SO 1700 1156

Beaufort brickworks original site is shown on the 1878 OS map with a tramway linking it to Beaufort ironworks which had closed in 1874. It is shown on the 1899 map but not labeled and had gone completely by 1915.

Beaufort Brick Co Ltd, later site - SO 1650 1195

Beaufort brickworks second site opened c1908 and first appears on the 1915 OS map labelled 'Brick & Pipe Works'. The works produced a great many bricks, found all over South Wales, until closing and demolition in 1976. Many of the Beaufort imprints used raised lettering rather than incised lettering.

Acknowledgments, sources and further reading

Thanks particularly to Geoff Palfrey for sharing his photographs, knowledge and research of the area
and also to :- John van Laun, Lawrence Sharpe, Richard Whitcombe, Jeffrey Williams, Beaufort Hills Welfare Community Hall and Ebbw Vale Works Museum

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All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins