Castell Coch slide pits
Industrial Wales - South and Mid Glamorgan
The Southern Taff Vale
From Tongwynlais to Treforest
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The Industrial History and Archaeology of South and Mid Glamorgan

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Melingriffith and Tongwynlais

Quick links to :-     Melingriffith to Tongwynlais     Taffs Well     Nantgarw     Lesser Garth or Little Garth
The Garth Iron Mine     Gwaelod-y-Garth and Lan Colliery     Treforest and Upper Boat


Melingriffith Water Pump in 1965 - ST 1420 7997

In 1965, almost before living memory, a bunch of spotty schoolboys from Whitchurch Grammar School were given a project - prepare accurate drawings of the pump. I really doubt if we ever did prepare anything more than rough sketches but we had great fun clambering over the pump, photographing it and taking highly precise measurements using a foot ruler. We weren't allowed to use delicate instruments such as the said ruler so our engineering master, 'Phoz Williams', wielded that. Being the ace photographer of the group, ie. the only boy with his own camera, I took the photos using my state-of-the-art Kodak Instamatic. There were just two settings on that camera, giving results that were 'Poor' or 'Very Poor'. These photos do seem to be in the 'slightly better than poor' category !! One advantage of it being a school project was that we visited the National Museum and were taken behind the scenes to view some original drawings of the pump.

Melingriffith Water Pump today

The Glamorganshire Canal - ST 1430 8046

Melingriffith Tramway and Tinplate Works - ST 1425 8035

The tramway dates from 1812 as a tramroad linking the Melingriffith Works with the Pentyrch Works. It was converted to a railway in 1871. The line closed in 1959 and the crossing and junction with the GWR taken out after 1961.


The Cardiff Railway from Coryton to Tongwynlais

The trackbed and bridges of the Cardiff Railway near Tongwynlais. The line past Coryton at ST 1440 8090 was disused after c1952 when a cut-off at Taffs Well was opened. The trackbed has since been severed by the M4 but is now open to walkers as part of the Glamorgan Canal Nature Reserve.

Rhiwbina Hill iron mine and limkilns - ST 1471 8313

An iron mine possibly from 1861 and some equally old limekilns at ST 1470 8304 plus some agricultural sites.

Tongwynlais, Castell Coch and Forest Ganol

Taffs Well

Quick links to :-     Melingriffith to Tongwynlais     Taffs Well     Nantgarw     Lesser Garth or Little Garth
The Garth Iron Mine     Gwaelod-y-Garth and Lan Colliery     Treforest and Upper Boat

South Wales Forgemasters - ST 1255 8320

The old 'engine shed' shaped building was indeed the Rhymney Railway engine shed, used to stable the banking loco for the 'big hill'.

The Barry Railway through Taffs Well

The Rhymney Railway through Taffs Well

The Taff Vale Railway and Cardiff Railway through Taffs Well

New Rockwood Colliery, Taffs Well - ST 1260 8415
Rockwood Colliery, Craig-yr-allt - ST 1345 8465

New Rockwood Colliery is quite recent in the grand scheme of things, being active from 1906 to 1963 and the buildings are currently in use by light industry. Rockwood Colliery, up in the hills, was linked to New Rockwood Colliery in Taffs Well by a halfmile incline passing through a short tunnel under the Barry Railway.

Bryn Coch Colliery and brickworks - ST 1209 8458

Bryn Coch Brickworks and Colliery is now a bijou housing estate but odd walls can be found under the Rhymney Railway and in the woods above.

Craig-yr-allt Colliery - ST 1217 8508

Craig-yr-allt Colliery, in operation by the 1790s, was abandoned around 1878 but it's loading bank can still be found in the rainforest.


Quick links to :-     Melingriffith to Tongwynlais     Taffs Well     Nantgarw     Lesser Garth or Little Garth
The Garth Iron Mine     Gwaelod-y-Garth and Lan Colliery     Treforest and Upper Boat

Nantgarw China Works - ST 1203 8544

Nantgarw China Works made fine porcelain from 1813 to 1820, closing until 1833 when it made earthenware, stoneware and clay pipes until 1920. The site became derelict until 1989 when council intervention and the formation of a trust have turned it into a museum and craft centre.

The Glamorganshire Canal - ST 1202 8541

Nantgarw Colliery

And finally a couple of photos from 1974 of Nantgarw Colliery and a distant view of Groeswen Colliery tips.

Lesser Garth or Little Garth

Quick links to :-     Melingriffith to Tongwynlais     Taffs Well     Nantgarw     Lesser Garth or Little Garth
The Garth Iron Mine     Gwaelod-y-Garth and Lan Colliery     Treforest and Upper Boat

Modern workings on the Lesser Garth and the Barry Railway, including the tunnel and Walnut Tree Viaduct.

Morganstown and the old dolomite quarries

Taffs Well Quarry, Lesser Garth

Better known as the Steetley dolomite quarry but owned by Cemex since 2004. The entrance tunnel which breach the old Barry Railway tunnel was opened in 2009.

Walnut Tree Tunnel and Viaduct

Garth Iron Mine and tramways

Quick links to :-     Melingriffith to Tongwynlais     Taffs Well     Nantgarw     Lesser Garth or Little Garth
The Garth Iron Mine     Gwaelod-y-Garth and Lan Colliery     Treforest and Upper Boat

Garth Iron Mine, Lesser Garth

With possible Roman ancestry, the Garth Iron Mine was developed by Blakemore and Booker, owners of the Melingriffith tinplate and Pentyrch iron works from 1805. Originally mined from the South, ore was taken down the upper tramroad to the Coed-y-Bedw tramroad and down the incline. In 1842, a tunnel was driven through the mountain to connect with the Coed-y-Bedw tramroad and the upper tramroad was abandoned. Booker went bankrupt in 1879 and the mine was abandoned in 1884.

The mine re-opened from 1926 to 1936 by the 'West of England Ochre and Oxide Co', succeeded briefly by 'F W Watkins' and the 'Garth-wood Co', closing again in 1937. World War 2 saw the mine being renovated for use as an ordnance store but left to become derelict again in peacetime. These details are taken from the late Reg Malpass' history of the mine in his Flickr photo album, click here to read the full story.

The Northern workings of the Garth Iron Mine

The Upper workings of the Garth Iron Mine

The top of the Lesser Garth is covered with the remains of very old workings that connected to the West by a tramroad

The Southern workings of the Garth Iron Mine


Quick links to :-     Melingriffith to Tongwynlais     Taffs Well     Nantgarw     Lesser Garth or Little Garth
The Garth Iron Mine     Gwaelod-y-Garth and Lan Colliery     Treforest and Upper Boat

The Pentyrch Ironworks railway.

Lan Colliery - ST 1176 8338

Shafts and levels above Gwaelod-y-Garth

The hillside behind Gwaelod-y-Garth is littered with old shafts, levels and tramways.

Cwmdows Colliery and Garth Level - ST 1168 8383

Garth Rhondda Level - ST 1163 8397

Sidrig Level or Old Siding Level - ST 1168 8427

Garth Mountain

Treforest and Upper Boat

Quick links to :-     Melingriffith to Tongwynlais     Taffs Well     Nantgarw     Lesser Garth or Little Garth
The Garth Iron Mine     Gwaelod-y-Garth and Lan Colliery     Treforest and Upper Boat

Cardiff Railway Rhydyfelin viaduct - ST 0870 8820

The Rhydyfelin viaduct was built in 1907, used once and then abandoned due to a long dispute with the TVR. It was 512ft long and rested on 35ft deep iron cylinders filled with concrete. The tunnel through the embankment was 473ft long with a span of 33ft and carried the mill race for the tinplate works.

Treforest Tinplate Works - ST 0870 8810

The Treforest Tinplate Works were built in 1833 by William Crawshay II on an 18th century site. It closed in 1939 and the buildings used for many purposes since then, one being used for storing animal bones. The structures include stone buildings with arched dividing walls and a smithy with cast-iron roof trusses similar to Pont-y-Cafnau in Merthyr Tydvil. The waterwheels were served by the millrace from a weir on the Taff. The works was connected to the TVR at Upper Boat to the South and to Pontypridd via the 'Doctors Tramroad' to the North. A spur of the tramroad crossed the river bridge to the 'Doctors Canal' at Rhydyfelin.

The Casting and Tinning Houses

The Rolling Mill and Smithy

The Tramway from Upper Boat

Acknowledgments, sources and further reading

Thanks for the use of their photographs to :- Geoff Atkins, Ceri Jones
'The Cardiff Railway' by Eric Mountford, The Oakwood Press

A Guide to the Website

All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins