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 Beaufort and Rassau

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Beaufort Ironworks and tramroads

There's nothing left of Beaufort Ironworks but you can still follow many of the tramroads and railways that served or passed it.

Beaufort Station and tunnel

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."

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.

Beaufort and Rassau

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The Trefil Railroad and the Rassau Railroad

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.

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 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., Jeffrey Williams, Beaufort Hills Welfare Community Hall and Ebbw Vale Works Museum

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All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins