Penydarran tramroad bridge
Industrial Wales - South and Mid-Glamorgan
The Northern Taff and Cynon Valleys
From Pontypridd to Merthyr and Aberdare
Search the site here

The Industrial History and Archaeology of South and Mid-Glamorgan

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.

Pontypridd to Ynysybwl

Quick links to :-     Pontypridd to Ynysybwl     Abercynon     The Penydarren Tramroad
Merthyr Vale to Pentrebach     Rhydycar     The Cynon Valley     Merthyr Tydfil and the North

The Barry Railway and other spots around Pontypridd

The Glamorgan Canal at Pontypridd - ST 0790 0911

These are locks 31 and 32 on the Glamorganshire Canal, next to the 'Newbridge Chain and Anchor Works', later 'Brown Lennox'. The works opened in 1818 and closed in 2000, having noteably made chains for 'SS Great Britain' and 'Queen Elizabeth II'. Restoration of the lock began in 2010.


A walk up the Ynysybwl branchline and the site of Lady Windsor Colliery

Cilfynydd and Abercynon to Pont-y-gwaith

Quick links to :-     Pontypridd to Ynysybwl     Abercynon     The Penydarren Tramroad
Merthyr Vale to Pentrebach     Rhydycar     The Cynon Valley     Merthyr Tydfil and the North


Abercynon Colliery or Dowlais Cardiff Colliery

The Glamorganshire Canal in Abercynon

The TVR through Abercynon

TVR Llancaiach branch - ST 0870 9465

This is the 1841 branch to Nelson and Llancaiach, high up on the valley side between the Whitehall Golf Course road and the top of the incline down to Ynysydwr.

Cefn Glas Colliery - ST 0801 9685

Pont-y-gwaith - ST 0808 9757

The site of Pont-y-gwaith ironworks, dating from the 1580s and subject of a 19th c. painting in the National Museum. The bridge replaced a wooden one in 1811. I'm not at all sure what the pill box was protecting, perhaps Merthyr was going to invade Pontypridd at some time. Just below the canal bank there was a row of ten houses, 'Buarth-glas Terrace', sacrificed to the motorway but you can still see the site.

The Pen-y-darren Tramroad

Quick links to :-     Pontypridd to Ynysybwl     Abercynon     The Penydarren Tramroad
Merthyr Vale to Pentrebach     Rhydycar     The Cynon Valley     Merthyr Tydfil and the North

from Abercynon to Pont-y-gwaith

Plymouth Ironworks - SO 0560 0500

Plymouth Ironworks has long gone and little remains to mark it. The Penydarran Tramroad ran in a tunnel under the site and one portal has been reconstructed to mark the 'oldest railway tunnel in the world'. The footbridge is typical but probably not original.

Merthyr Vale to Pentrebach and Abercanaid

Quick links to :-     Pontypridd to Ynysybwl     Abercynon     The Penydarren Tramroad
Merthyr Vale to Pentrebach     Rhydycar     The Cynon Valley     Merthyr Tydfil and the North


Lower Abercanaid - SO 0575 0360

Upper Abercanaid - SO 0518 0431

Blaencanaid blast furnace and ironworks - SO 0374 0459

The ruins of Blaencanaid blast furnace date back to the 1560s, one of the oldest ironworks in Wales. It only stands about 12 ft high and the blast was probably powered by a waterwheel in the stream to the side of it. There are remains of a low level next to it which may have supplied the ironstone to feed it, the fuel being charcoal from the surrounding woodland. The furnace is about 400yds along the path behind the information board.



Quick links to :-     Pontypridd to Ynysybwl     Abercynon     The Penydarren Tramroad
Merthyr Vale to Pentrebach     Rhydycar     The Cynon Valley     Merthyr Tydfil and the North

Cwm Pit or Cwm Colliery - SO 0442 0431

Cwm Pit or Cwm Colliery was sunk in 1845 by Robert Crawshay and was the start of the 1766 tub-boat canal to Cyfarthfa Ironworks. Cwm Pit closed in 1910 but was used for drainage until 1924. There is much stonework and many foundations including the base of the chimney shown in the old photgraph.

Cwm Pit - The base of the chimney

Cwm Pit - The Northern abutment of the incline bridge with a recess underneath.

Cwm Pit - Below the screens with a short tunnel and holes containing iron control rods.

Cwm Pit - The steps down to the screens sidings with their alcoves

Cwm Pit - The Northern side of the long wall with it's low culvert

Cwm Pit - The Southern side of the long wall (on the chimney side). This may have been the terminus of the tub-boat canal as there appears to be a recess for boats such as found at Fourteen Locks, Newport.

Cwm Pit Railway - The railway linking Cwm Pit to Cyfarthfa Ironworks superseded the canal c1830 and was truncated to Lower Colliery Row when the colliery closed in 1924. It is now a woodland path passing one of the many Cyfarthfa reservoirs and the tips of Glyndyrys level. It crossed the mountain road on a skew bridge of which the base of the abutments can be seen.

Lower Colliers Row - SO 0440 0505

Lower Colliers Row, Rhyd-y-car, consisted of about 20 cottages built c1795 probably when the Glamorganshire Canal was opened. They were demolished in 1970 having been surrounded by a maze of coal and iron workings. The ironwork was inside the building in the bottom left corner of the 1950 photo.

Cwmdu Colliery original incline tipping dock - SO 0442 0512

The original c1880 incline from Cwmdu Colliery came down to a stone-built tipping dock on the Cwm Pit Railway right next to Lower Colliers Row.

Cwmdu Colliery second incline tipping docks - SO 0450 0526 and SO 0444 0533

The second incline from Cwmdu Colliery originally dates from c1905 to c1914. It somehow ended at a stone-built tipping dock on the Gethin Railway at SO 0450 0526. During WW2 it was re-instated, working until the late 1950s with a link to a concrete-built tipping dock further up the Gethin Railway

The 1940s concrete-built tipping dock at SO 0444 0533

Canal Drift or Canal Level, Rhyd-y-car - SO 0429 0536

Canal Drift or Canal Level was a tub-boat-operated level of the late eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries, a spur off the Cyfarthfa Canal, a two mile (3.2km.) long tub boat canal built in the 1770s and disused by 1840.

The Vale of Neath Railway in the Taff Vale

Abernant Tunnel - SO 0437 0418

Abernant Tunnel was opened in 1853 by the Vale of Neath Railway between Aberdare and Merthyr Tydvil and is the fourth-longest in Wales. The line closed in 1963 and there are outline plans for re-opening it as a cycle route and footpath. The line was originally broad gauge and was converted to standard gauge in 1873. The line passed under a steel bridge at SO 0448 0427 and a stone bridge at SO 0462 0441 near Merthyr Tunnel Junction

Cyfarthfa Crossing - SO 0478 0466

Cyfarthfa Crossing was a complicated flat junction on the Vale of Neath Railway, The GWR / RR joint line from Quakers Yard and the Gethin Colliery Railway, their connecting spurs and then the Upper Rhyd-y-car Colliery tramroad running underneath them all. If that wasn't enough, the Ynys-fach Railway joined the Gethin Railway a few yards to the North.

The Cynon Valley

Quick links to :-     Pontypridd to Ynysybwl     Abercynon     The Penydarren Tramroad
Merthyr Vale to Pentrebach     Rhydycar     The Cynon Valley     Merthyr Tydfil and the North

To Mountain Ash and Penrikyber Colliery


Bwllfa Dare Colliery - SN 9700 0245

Bwllfa Colliery, also known as Bwllfa Dare and Bwllfa No.1, was sunk at the head of Cwmdare in 1853. The mine was closed in the late 1930s and by 1948 the site was 'disused' and largely demolished, according to the 1953 edition Ordnance Survey 6in map. it is believed that the 1930s steel-lattice headframe had been moved to Tower Colliery in 1941. However, after nationalisation of the coal industry in 1947, a scheme to link Bwllfa underground with a reconstructed Mardy Colliery included redevelopment of the Bwllfa site and accordingly most of the remaining buildings were demolished and a new concrete headframe (over the existing south shaft), electric winder house and other facilities were constructed. The old south winder house was retained but remained in a derelict condition. The colliery ceased working in 1977 but was retained as an escape shaft for Mardy Colliery until the late 1980s.

Nantmelyn Colliery - SN 9739 0274

Nantmelyn Colliery or Bwllfa No.2 Pit was sunk in 1860 near the head of Cwmdare; it commenced coaling in 1861 and closed in 1956/7. The site was demolished and landscaped in the early 1970s

Windber Colliery - SN 9718 0288

Winber Colliery was operated by D.R. Llewellyn between about 1900 and the 1920's. In 2014 the remains include a brick engine house, drift entrance, tramroad routes, tips and aerial ropeway stanchion (possibly for Nant Melin Colliery).

Around the Visitor Centre - SN 9845 0265

The Visitor Centre is built on the site of Cwmdare Colliery, the start of a tramway to the tips and levels on the hillside above. Llwynhelig Colliery was one side at SN 9892 0234 and Merthyr Dare Colliery was the other side at SN 9814 0260

Graig Colliery - SN 9950 0208

The Cwmaman branch

This week it's the Cwmaman branch that the Ramblers visit, from the Visitor Centre to Forchaman. As usual, lots of interest, old shafts, quarries, tramways and bridges. And again, as usual, I've got to go up there and follow up on many things.

Foundry Town to Aberaman

Blaengwawr Quarry - SN 9972 0152

From Blaengwawr Colliery an incline ran up the hillside to Blaengwawr Quarry, where tramways linked the individual quarries.

Godreaman and Cwmneol

Cwmaman and Forchwen

Hirwaun and Penderyn

Hirwaun - SN 9575 0560

Cross Street, Hirwaun, in c1890 and in 2019. The Aberdare to Hirwaun and Penderyn Tramroad makes its way towards Hirwaun Ironworks. It doesn't appear to receive much traffic any more !!

Penderyn and Tor-y-Foel Quarry - SN 9415 0900

Tor-y-Foel Quarry was the earliest quarry in Penderyn, probably used from 1757. The tramway was built in 1799 to connect to the Hirwaun tramroad, converted in 1904 to a standard gauge railway line.

Acknowledgments, sources and further reading

Thanks for the use of their photographs to :- Coflein, Alan George at, Dare Valley Visitor Centre, RCT Libraries

A Guide to the Website

All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins