Industrial Wales - South West Wales
The Upper Neath and Tawe Valleys
Pontneddfechan and Penwyllt
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The industrial history and archaeology of the Upper Neath and Tawe Valleys

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Penwyllt Quarry and Limekilns

Penwyllt Quarry - SN 8555 1575

Twyn Disgwylfa limekiln - SN 8550 1575

Twyn-y-Ffald Quarry and limekiln - SN 8526 1595

Pen-y-Foel Limekiln - SN 8541 1533

Dinas Silica Brickworks, Penwyllt

Penwyllt Dinas Silica Brickworks - SN 8550 1520

Penwyllt Silica Sand Railway

The incline from the brickworks

The zig-zag railway down to the quarries

The railway down from Pwll Byfre to incline top and the zig-zag

Pwll Byfre quarries - SN 8760 1660

Historical photos of the railway at work (from the South Wales Caving Club website)

The Brecon Forest Tramroad

The tramroad running through the brickworks site

The abortive tramroad route up to Pwll Byfre

South of Penwyllt

Near Nant-y-Ffin approaching Coelbren

The Neath and Brecon Railway

North of Penwyllt Station

South of Penwyllt Station

Melin Llech, Coelbren - SN 8360 1231

Glynneath Gunpowder Factory

Glynneath Gunpowder Factory - SN 9145 0820

Glynneath Gunpowder Factory was built in 1857 by the Vale of Neath Powder Co, passing to Curtis's and Harvey, later Nobels Explosives Co Ltd and ICI Ltd. The factory closed down at the end of 1931 when Bobbinite was taken off the approved explosive list. Due to the 'explosive' nature of the site it was purged by fire but there are still many intriguing glimpses along the valley. The site was previously Fredericks and Jenners 'Dinas Bridge Fire Brick Works'.

The Nedd Fechan Valley

From Pontneddfechan up the West bank of the river

The Nedd Fechan tramroad, the mines are numbered according to Keith Jones' map.

Grist Mill - SN 9001 0811
Mine No 1 - SN 8998 0827

The mine entrance is 3ft by 6ft with with three passages leading left, right and centre. It is full of water, about 3ft deep over soft mud of unknown depth, as it is difficult to drain being below the level of the pathway.

Mine No 6 - SN 8979 0852

There was an inscribed keystone here reading "J.M.-1873".

Mine No 7 - SN 8986 0906

This mine is just below the footbridge has a large entrance 8 feet high and 8 feet. It goes for about 60 feet then veers to the right and ends but it is flooded with water about 2 feet deep.

Cwm Gored Mine, mines Nos 4 and 5 - SN 8990 0875

Or Cwmcorrin Mine / Lluest Mine

Below Cwm Gored Mine to the lower bridge

Dinas Silica Mines

A Brief History

Silica rock was discovered in these here hills in the 1780s and became a principal component of top quality firebricks. The first tramway was built in 1807, the 'Dinas Fire Brick Co' was inaugurated in 1822 and a brickworks built at Pontwalby. Starting as quarries, the workings soon extended underground and the stone taken through the tunnel to the village. The mines were closed from 1921 to 1930 when a new tramway was built down the river and down the incline ramp or chute. The mines were acquired by 'Richard Thomas and Baldwin', owners of Ebbw Vale steelworks who built the aerial ropeway over the hill. Finally the mine closed in 1964 and after a few years of inactivity the site was cleared in the early 1970s.

The upper entrances - SN 9166 0800

There are three entrances here with another somewhere on the hill above that I haven't explored yet.

Underground - SN 9175 0805

Vast extensive caverns stretching under the mountain. The lower areas are flooded but there's plenty to see without donning breathing apparatus. The mine is open access to suitably careful, insured, helmetted and lit persons - or, better still, join a mining society.

The tunnel to the quarry - SN 9165 0795

The tunnel connected the mines to the quarry area until superceded by the aerial ropeway. It slopes away from the entrance so you'll have to paddle to reach the further end, which is blocked anyway.

The incline chute - SN 9145 0800

The incline ramp or chute connected the end of the upper tramway with the lower tramway down a 50 ft drop at the waterfall.

Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

'The Brecon Forest Tramroads' by Stephen Hughes
'The Old Gunpowder Factory at Glynneath' by Pritchard, Evans and Johnson
'The Silica Mines of the Little Neath Valley' by by Tony Oldham
'The Caves and Mines of the Sychrhyd Gorge' by Keith Jones
- a brief history from the Cambrian Mines Trust
- Dinas Silica Mines at work by Roy Bowen
Thanks for information and the use of their photographs to :- The South Wales Caving Club

All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins