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Industrial Wales - Monmouthshire
The Usk Valley
From Caerleon to Talybont via Usk and Abergavenny
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The Industrial Archaeology and History of Newport and Monmouth County

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Rogerstone, Bassaleg and Coedkernew     Caerleon, Ponthir and Uskmouth
The Usk Valley     Sudbrook and the Severn Estuary     The Wye Valley

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Caerleon to Abergavenny

Quick links to :-     Caerleon and Usk to Abergavenny     Abergavenny to Gilwern     Glangrwyney Valley
    Crickhowell to Talybont     The Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway

From Caerleon to Usk

Pant Gwyn limekilns, Llanhennock - ST 3678 9260

Cefn Ila, Llanbadoc - SO 3615 0045

Dating from the mid-Victorian period, Cefn Ila was a large Victorian house with extensive grounds including a pond. In 1925 the estate passed to Pontypool Hospital who used it a a convalescent, casualty and maternity unit until 1973 when it was burnt down. Since then it has been purchased by 'The Woodland Trust' who are restoring and enhancing the grounds.

Hydraulic Ram pump

The hudraulic ram pump probably ran a fountain and appears to be a "No 4 Easton & Amos (London & Erith) 3 inch new no. 30 simple ram 1854". In 2016 the pumphouse was lost in the jungle and very tumble-down but just two years later it was restored. I wonder if they can ever get the hydraulic ram working again?

Glascoed pillbox - SO 3590 0087
Cilwrgi limekilns - ST 3400 9828

Just over the fence from Cefn Ila lies this WW2 pillbox, unfortunately on the heavily protected property of what used to be Glascoed Royal Ordnence Factory. The Cilwrgi limekiln is a little further West.

Glascoed Limestone Quarries - SO 330020

Ancient underground limestone quarries rumoured to date back to the 1600s and first dug by local monks. Sometimes thought to be iron mines due to a high iron content apparently.

The Railway through Usk - SO 3753 0123

The Railway through Usk was opened in 1856 by the Coleford, Monmouth, Usk and Pontypool Railway, soon becoming part of the GWR. The line closed to passengers in 1955 and goods traffic ceased soon after. The trackbed through the tunnel and over the viaduct is now a footpath.

Usk and Raglan Brickworks

From Usk to Abergavenny

Goytre Wharf - SO 3127 0634

Goytre Wharf is now a marina but was originally a set of limekilns below the canal level fed from a small dock. The large drawholes are preserved and one of the three pots. Unfortunately the tramroad wagon and track is just a tourist tableau, wrong track, wrong wagon and there never was a tramroad here. The cast-iron railroad track is quite unusual, you see many tramplates but rarely railroad track.

Llanover

Llanellen and Llanfoist

The Bryn, Bettws Newydd and Nantyderry


Abergavenny to Gilwern

The Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway started its tortuous route up the Clydach Gorge and over the Heads of the Valleys to Merthyr at Abergavenny Junction. The route crosses so many valleys that it has a page to itself :- The Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway

Quick links to :-     Caerleon and Usk to Abergavenny     Abergavenny to Gilwern     Glangrwyney Valley
    Crickhowell to Talybont     The Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway

Around Abergavenny

Abergavenny Town

Grwyne Fawr reservoir - SO 2323 3074

Govilon

Baileys Tramroad from Nantyglo Ironworks wound its way down the Clydach Gorge to the wharf on the Brecon and Abergavenny Canal at Govilon. Full details of the route of the tramroad can be found on its own page here :- Bailey's Govilon Tramroad. The tramroad was later rebuilt as the Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway and that has its own page as well :- The Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway

Wilden Wireworks, Govilon - SO 2607 1345

Gilwern

Gilwern was a busy transport hub where the Clydach Railroad and Llammarch Tramroad met the canal and the MTAR passed close by. The Llammarch Tramroad ended its journey here and its route is recorded here :- 'The Llammarch Tramroad'. The Clydach Railroad centred on Gilwern, coming from Beaufort in one direction and Glangrwyney from the other. Its story is told here :- 'The Clydach Railroad'. The Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway also has its own page as well :- 'The Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway'

Gilwern Quarry - SO 2470 1415

Gilwern Quarry had its own siding from the opening of the MTAR and probably Baileys Govilon Tramroad before that. It is still being worked on a small scale in 2019.


Glangrwyney Valley

Paper, Board, Corn and Woollen Mills and a Forge

The Glangrwyney Valley was a busy industrial scene from the C18th and continuing to 1950, particularly for paper and board mills producing the blue bags to contain sugar. In 1891 Straker and Son sold the Cwrt-y-Gollen Estate by auction, which included most of the mills operating then.

Quick links to :-     Caerleon and Usk to Abergavenny     Abergavenny to Gilwern     Glangrwyney Valley
    Crickhowell to Talybont     The Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway

Usk Paper Mill, Glangrwyney - SO 2395 1611

A friend recently visited Usk Paper Mill at Glangrwyney and found much machinery inside, probably from its paper-making days. Most exciting were the two Francis type water turbines dating from 1889 still in situ. It was originally Llangrwyne Forge, working from c1720 to 1842, and was the terminus of the Clydach Railroad, linking it to the canal and Sirhowy Ironworks. From c1848 to 1948 it was 'Usk Paper Works', in the 1960s a wood saw-dust distillery and finally an agricultural machinery repair shop.

Llangrwyne Forge - SO 2394 1611

It was originally Llangrwyne Forge, working from c1720 to 1842, and connected to the Clydach Railroad, linking it to the canal and Sirhowy Ironworks. From c1848 to 1948 it was Usk Paper Mill, in the 1960s a wood saw-dust distillery and finally an agricultural machinery repair shop.
Lot 7 in the 1891 sale describes it as a water and steam powered mill with chopping and beating houses, paper stores and loft, machine house, smithy, boiler room, weighing machine, lime house, chimney stack and other useful buildings. There was also an iron store, oil house and paper sorting shed. A substantial cottage of six rooms and larder were suitable for the foreman and the commodious residence of 'Glangrwyney House' or 'Forge House' were a convenient distance away from the mills.

Golden Grove Millboard Mill - SO 2403 1775

The 1891 lot 3, Golden Grove Millboard Mill consisted of a vat room with two vats, stove house, sorting, packing and stock rooms, rolling house, drying lofts equiped with tanks, presses and rag engine, a 15ft x 3.5ft breastshot waterwheel, all rebuilt after a recent fire and producing 6 tons of board per month, plus an office, residence and cottage.

Millbrook Millboard Mills - SO 2404 1712

In 1891 as lot 16 Millbrook Millboard Mills included rooms for two vats, sorting, chopping, drying and storage. There were two overshot waterwheels and the mill produced 2 tons of board per week. They were rented to Hallesy and Co for £45 per year.

Millbrook Flour Mill - SO 2404 1712

Millbrook Grist (flour) Mill was lot 17 and was described as a substantial three storey mill with two overshot waterwheels driving three pairs of stones, smutter, bolter, hoppers and bins. The sale included Pear Tree Cottage with 4 bedrooms, wine cellar, two-stall stable and coach house. The adjacent 'dwelling' had accommodation for 3 horses, 2 cows, calves, 3 piggeries and a cart house. The grist mill was let to George Addis at £65 per year.

Tyn-y-cae Woollen Mill - SO 2396 1662

The 1891 particulars for lot 15 describe Tyn-y-cae Woollen Mill as a water-powered three storey stone mill consisting of bioler house, drying room, carding room, spinning weaving and yarn rooms on the second floor. The third floor held the pressing, store and wool rooms. There was also a dwelling and outbuildings, all occupied by R G James at a rent of £19 p.a. on a 30 year lease since 1878.


Crickhowell to Talybont-on-Usk

Quick links to :-     Caerleon and Usk to Abergavenny     Abergavenny to Gilwern     Glangrwyney Valley
    Crickhowell to Talybont     The Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway

Talybont-on-Usk - SO 1145 2255

Talybont is the meeting point of three transport systems, the oldest is the Brecon and Abergavenny Canal which was soon met by the Brinore Tramroad and finally by the Brecon and Merthyr Railway. The Brinore Tramroad took a higher line from Talybont to Pen Rhiw-calch and the whole route to Trefil is covered on the Trefil and Brynoer page.

The Brecon and Abergavenny Canal at Talybont

Between Crickhowell and talybont the canal passes through the Ashford Tunnel, the longest on the Monmouthshire network.

The Brecon and Merthyr Railway at Talybont

The Brecon and Merthyr Railway climbed the seven-mile bank from Talybont to reach Torpantau, taking a lower line below the Brinore Tramroad, along the side of Talybont Reservoir.


Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

Thanks to Mike Kilner for finding the brickworks in Usk and Raglan and, in his role as warden of Cefn Ila, accompanying me on my explorations in its undergrowth.

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