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Industrial Wales - The Sirhowy and Rhymney valleys
The Southern Sirhowy Valley
From Wattsville to Blackwood, via Cwmfelinfach, Ynysddu and Pontllanfraith
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The industrial history and archaeology of the Sirhowy Valley

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Penllwyn Tramroad

Penllwyn Viaduct - ST 2035 9108

The Penllwyn Viaduct took the Penllwyn Tramroad across the river. It was converted into a railway along with the Sirhowy Tramroad and used until the new connection to Nine Mile Point Colliery was opened in 1908. The track was lifted in 1914.

Penllwyn Tramroad

The Penllwyn Tramroad ran from the Sirhowy Tramroad at Nine Mile Point over the viaduct to Ynysddu (Lower). Opened in 1824 to the same 4'2" gauge as the Sirhowy line, it was probably converted to a railway in 1865 with the Sirhowy line. It worked sporadically between 1887 and 1908 when the LNWR took over the section from the new Nine Mile Point Colliery connection up to Ynysddu Lower goods yard (opened 1911, closed 1937) and back to Wattsville goods yard (closed 1929), the short stretch from there to the viaduct was lifted in 1914.

Llanarth Tramroad

From an end-on junction at Ynysddu the Llanarth Tramroad ran on up the valley to Penllwyn Colliery, Pontllanfraith and Rock Colliery, Blackwood. Up to 1908 an occasional horse-drawn wagon was worked along the tramroad to preserve the right-of-way. The tramroad was officially abandoned in the 1920s following the failure of the various railway schemes below.

The Penllwyn Railway and the Gelligroes Light Railway

The Penllwyn Railway was proposed in 1906 and the Gelligroes Light Railway in January 1916 by Sir Ivor Herbert of Llanarth Court under the Light Railways Act. Both were to run from the LNWR goods station at Ynysddu to Commercial Street, Pontllanfraith along the bed of the tramroad. The proposed light railway order intended the railway to be built and run by the LNWR. It seems neither plan got off the ground.





Wattsville

Wattsville Reservoirs - ST 2032 9156

These two small reservoirs were built at some time before 1898, probably to provide water for both the village and Risca North Colliery. The dams were demolished c1975 and the site has recently been landscaped.

Wattsville Village

Someone's told me that this building is a pumphouse for the farm but I haven't got near enough to check! It's on the opposite side of the valley from the public footpath so maximum zoom! It's roughly at ST 1990 9265.

Adams Quarry, Brynawel - ST 2013 9138

Thornes Quarry, Brynawel - ST 1967 9157

Nine Mile Point Station - ST 2044 9109





Nine Mile Point Colliery

Nine Mile Point Colliery - ST 1930 9130

Nine Mile Point Colliery was developed between 1902 and 1905 with three shafts, West, East and Rock. It was also known as Coronation or Sirhowy Valley Colliery. Famous for two particular incidents, one was a stay-down strike in 1935 and the other is the threatened engulfing of Capel y Babel by its growing tip, unusual in that it was on the valley floor. The 'Nine Miles' refers to the distance from Newport along the Penllwyn and Sirhowy Tramways. The colliery closed in 1964, and the site is now an industrial estate. One abutment of the bridge over the river from the Sirhowy Valley line at ST 1956 9110 still exists and is used for abseiling.

Nine Mile Point Colliery quarry - ST 1968 9158

This quarry was connected to the colliery by two tramways, an early one running diagonally down the hillside and a more vertical later one.

Nine Mile Point Colliery Aerial Ropeway

In the 1950s Nine Mile Point Colliery built an aerial ropeway to a top station at ST 1825 9060 to create a new tip. However nothing but test runs appear to have taken place, certainly no tipping! Amazingly two of the pylons still stand, the lower, shorter pylon 1 beside the Wentloog Colliery tramway at ST 1895 9097 and a taller version (pylon 2) higher up the steep and bramble-covered hillside at ST 1857 9080. A very rusty and partly buried bucket is deep in the woods at ST 1838 9085. Numerous concrete foundations exist up and down the hill. I came across the smaller pylon in 2009 next to Wentloog Colliery. Mike Munro (http://www.copsewood.org/aropeway/) went looking for it successfully but then found an even taller one in the woods above it. So I had to take look and there it was on a very steep brambled slope quite unsuitable for elderly gents like me. But I made it!





Cwmfelinfach to Ynysddu

Nant-y-draenog drainage level - ST 1862 9215

A larger quarry at ST 1860 9210 was open by 1922, probably with the building of the village anda smaller quarry lies just to the North, marked 'old' in 1922. Opposite the larger quarry , over the stream, is what appears to be a small but well-cut drainage or escape adit (ST 1860 9210), possibly from the old level above it. Little remains of this adit (ST 1881 9231) but the depression and some ironmongery protruding from the ground in front.

Ty-cae-brith level - ST 1917 9262

Further up the valley another small adit existed at Ty-Cae-Brith (ST 1917 9262). This is still used as a water supply with a filled but clear, stone-lined entrance and a roof collapse just behind. There is also signs of an adit and tip on the opposite side of the field.

Nant-y-draenog reservoir - ST 1888 9352

Nant-y-draenog Reservoir was built in 1894 before Cwmfelinfach village was built and closed in 1979. There are two primary and one covered secondary filter beds. The roof of the main filter house has disappeared but the ironwork and walls remains. Quite a lot of iron and pipe work still remain at this remote site. The small quarry just below possibly supplied the stonework.

Pont Lawrence Station - ST 1904 9112

Pont Lawrence was the station for Cwmfelinfach and the branch into Nine Mile Point Colliery diverged to the right at the railway approached it. The bridge abutment over the river at ST 1956 9110 is now used for abseiling and other death-defying activities.

Wentloog Colliery - ST 1861 9084

In 1892 the Wentlooge Coal Co re-opened an 80-year-old level known as 'Edwards Level', owned by L C Walker with Prof Gallacher of Llanbradach Colliery as agent and Moses Jones of Rudry as Manager. From 1902 it was under Christopher Pond's ownership and appears the have closed c1920 and was for sale in 1924. Wentloog Colliery ( aka Yr Ocher With Colliery, Ochrwyth Colliery and Wentlooge Colliery) consisted of two levels, an earlier level at ST 1853 9090 which became the return for the later level at ST 1861 9084. Both were connected by a long, shallow incline and tramway to the later Ynysddu Brickworks. A forestry track follows the route of the tramway, traces of which can be seen either side of the track. At the colliery site there is a brick culvert under the tramway near the earlier level and a brick pit at the later level, where the haulage engine probably stood. An old level at ST 1874 9099, disused by 1901, connected to the Sirhowy Tramway by a short, steep incline past Ynys Hywel, where an iron ventilation chimney exists.

Ynysddu Brick and Tile Co Ltd - ST 1803 9172

The brickworks at Ynysddu was one of Christopher Pond's ventures, opened after 1901 and had been demolished by 1948, possibly closing with Wentloog Colliery. It was closely connected with Wentloog Colliery and both operations were for sale in 1924. There's lots of foundations of the kilns and the loading bank in the undergrowth and the site is littered with bricks, many mis-shapes and other brands as well. The brickworks was at the end of the tramway down from Wentloog Colliery and the colliery had a tipping dock to the East of it. The 'Ruby' brand is possibly named after Mr Pond's daughter or a clay seam but a more interesting rumour is that it was named after a lady friend of his.





Ynysddu to Wyllie and Gelligroes

Around and about Ynysddu

Wyllie

Wyllie Colliery's site (ST 1694 9237) has been completely cleared and a housing estate is being built there. This modern colliery was constructed between 1924 and 1926 and closed in 1968, after a very short and uneventful life. The tips on Mynydd Bach at ST 1696 9266 have been landscaped but traces still remain.

Gelligroes

The first Gelligroes Levels were at ST 1731 9460, working before 1880 but closed by 1901. The modern level (ST 1735 9453) penetrated the old workings for about 50 yards. Tips and a drainage chamber are beside Heolddu Lane with the modern level, tramway and quarry (ST 1747 9447) through the gate to the South. The original tramway (ST 1741 9491) from the lane is over the stile to the North and can be traced through the fields, past another level, to the by-pass which now covers the final level and airshaft of Gelligroes.

To the East, Coedcae Level (ST 1817 9504) was active in the 1920s but turned out to be unproductive. The second adit at ST 1794 9477 is just identifiable in a small quarried area to the right of the footpath beside Gelligroes Quarry (ST 1787 9473).





Pentwynmawr and Pontllanfraith

Pennar Tunnel, Pentwynmawr - ST 1969 9636

Pennar Lane Footbridge - ST 1953 9644

An interesting footbridge that may be an original fixture to the 1859 Taff Vale Extension Railway. When I visited it was fenced off as unsafe but it appeared to be an aqueduct as well as a footbridge. The walkway was made of wooden planks over an iron trough and the 1880 OS map shows both the watercourse and footpath.

Bryn Tramroad, Pontllanfraith

The Bryn Tramroad ran from the Sirhowy tramroad at what was later Pontllanfraith High Level Station. The tramroad ran to a mine North of the Crown Inn at the Bryn until it was taken over by the LNWR in 1876 but disappears soon afterwards. A short siding ran along the trackbed in Bryn Road by the station until the 1920s at least.

Penllwyn Colliery - ST 1787 9528

A old colliery working from the 1840s to the 1870s. A strongly fenced area beside Tram Road protects a drainage adit. A little further South at ST 1796 9567 is a poorly fenced and very waterlogged area, 'The Dingle', that was the site of an 'old level' in 1880.





Blackwood

Tir Filkins - ST 1826 9670

The Rock Collieries - ST 1757 9735
Woodfieldside woollen factory - ST 1773 9717

The woollen factory was beside the tramroad, long gone and the site is now an 'executive housing estate' but a couple of the adjacent cottages remain.

Woodfieldside quarry - ST 1768 9767

A very small quarry at Cwm Pen Maen, Woodfield. There was an old level a little further up, was this another trial?





Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

Thanks to :- Anthony Gostling and others for info on Ynysddu Brickworks.


All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins