Industrial Wales - Monmouthshire's Sirhowy Valley
Tramroads and Railways to Trefil Quarries
From Ebbw Vale, Tredegar, Rhymney and Talybont
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The Industrial Archaeology and History of the Sirhowy Valley

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The Trefil Tramroad and Railway

From Ebbw Vale and Beaufort to Trefil

Quick links to :-     Trefil Railroad and Railway     Brinore Tramroad     Tredegar  Tramroad
    Rhymney Tramroad     Trefil Village and Quarries

The Trefil Tramroad Co (actually a railroad) dates from 1796, running from the quarries at Trefil to Ebbw Vale and Beaufort Ironworks via the Rassa Railroad. The original 3'8" tramroad was converted to a 3'9" gauge tramway in 1908 using steam locomotives. As Ebbw Vale Steelworks grew, the tramway was itself converted to a standard gauge railway and re-aligned in 1922, particularly at Nant Milgatw with a completely new route from Trefil Machine to Ebbw Vale. The line closed in 1964 and much of the Ebbw Vale end has been eaten away by urban re-development.

The Trefil Tramroad ran from Ebbw Vale Ironworks to Beaufort where it met the Rassa tramroad (both were actually rail roads using edge rails rather than tramplates). The Rassau Tramroad went as far as Trefil Machine (a weighing machine) and then the Trefil Tramroad continued up the Sirhowy Valley to Trefil itself. Trefil quarries were the destination of the the Trefil Tramroad, Tredegar Tramroad, Rhymney Tramroad and Brinore Tramroad, the Clapham Junction of tramroads !

In 1837 Thomas Davies of Penmyarth, Breconshire, bought 4 shares in the 'Trefil Railway' for £400 from the Earl of Albemarle. This is the contract for the purchase. Was it a bargain?

From Beaufort Ironworks to Trefil Machine

The Trefil Tramroad ran from Ebbw Vale Ironworks to Beaufort, where it was joined by the Clydach Railroad from Gilwern. At the Rhyd-y-blew Inn at Carmeltown it joined the Rassa Tramroad, which filled the gap to Trefil Machine. The Rassa Tramroad crossed the Rassa Brook on a bridge at SO 1603 1152, rebuilt in 1806, but still there today.

From Trefil Machine to Cwm Milgatw

Along the trackbed from Beaufort Wells

The area around Trefil Machine has changed completely with all the road building going on. The route from Beaufort Wells has been broken by the new A465 dual-carriageway but it is easily followed on either side of the new road. and, other than some unsightly plastic fencing, there's no damage to Cwm Milgatw from the abortive 'Circuit fo Wales'.

Cwm Milgatw and Engine Pond

The Tramroad on the East side of Cwm Milgatw - SO 1342 1233

Now the threat from the Circuit of Wales has receded and the work on the A465 is complete, It's time to re-visit the railway and tramroad to Trefil. The new road has cut through the trackbed but there is alternative access and, other than some unsightly plastic fencing, there's no damage to Cwm Milgatw.

The Tramroad at the head of Cwm Milgatw - SO 1336 1257

Engine Pond and leat, Cwm Milgatw

Other than some unsightly plastic fencing, there's no damage to Cwm Milgatw.

The Tramroad on the West side of Cwm Milgatw - SO 1334 1231

From Cwm Milgatw to Trefil Village

The Tramroad culvert loop - SO 1297 1230

The tramroad crossed a culvert on a sharp bend so the railway by-passed it on a new formation.

Brinore Tramroad

Quick links to :-     Trefil Railroad and Railway     Brinore Tramroad     Tredegar  Tramroad
    Rhymney Tramroad     Trefil Village and Quarries

Brinore Tramroad

The Brinore Tramroad ran from Trefil to the limekilns and wharf at Talybont. At Trefil it connected with Benjamin Hall's tramroad from Rhymney Ironworks and Brinore Collieries. It opened in 1815 but by 1860 traffic was minimal and by the 1870s unsuccessful efforts were made to sell the tramroad. The track was still in place in 1890 and for sale when the company records just cease. It's highly likely it technically still exists. The majority of the route is still open as a footpath and well worth a look.

Near Hendre Quarry, Trefil

Between Trefil and Penrhiwcalc

Between Penrhiwcalc and Talybont

The Brinore Tramroad at Talybont

The counting or toll house at Talybont was derelict for some time before restoraton as a holiday cottage.

Rhymney Tramroad to Trefil

Quick links to :-     Trefil Railroad and Railway     Brinore Tramroad     Tredegar  Tramroad
    Rhymney Tramroad     Trefil Village and Quarries

The First Tramroad - Rhymney Union Ironworks to Tredegar

This 2' 9" gauge tramroad from Samuel Homfrays Union Ironworks at Rhymney was built in c1804 to link the ironworks with Tredegar and indirectly to Trefil. It ran across Brynoer Patch to Tafarnau-bach and Nant-y-bwch where the route joined the Tredegar Tramroad, as both were 2'9" gauge at this time. In 1810 Benjamin Hall took over both Rhymney ironworks and, in 1814, built a new 3'4" gauge tramroad directly to Trefil to join his Brinore Tramroad, which was the same gauge. The two tramroads crossed at a point now buried under the A469.The first tramroad was then redundant and the track lifted in 1829 from the crossover to Rhymney. The section from the crossover to Tredegar was retained as it served collieries along the line, finally closing in 1904. A short section of the tramroad between the ironworks and Bryn-brith Pit can be found. Beyond Bryn-brith the reworking of Brynoer Patch and the construction of the MTAR and the A469 road have destroyed the route to Bryn Bach Park. From the Park entrance, the tramroad followed Merthyr Road to Nant-y-bwch and its junction with the Tredegar Tramroad.

Brynoer Patch - SO 1110 0925

On the North Western side of the stream towards Bryn-brith Pit, along the hedgerow, investigations have found evidence of a tramroad. This is should be the first 2'9" tramroad to Tredegar. The small header pond, below the original Bryn Bach pond, still exists. The second 3'4" tramroad to Trefil on the South Eastern side of the stream is shown on the Tithe maps and OS maps running at a higher level, with a possible branch to Bryn-brith Pit, disused by 1875. This area has been landscaped and the modern footpath is at a much lower level and further West.

The Second Tramroad - Rhymney Bute Ironworks to Trefil

Benjamin Halls 3'4" tramroad from Rhymney Bute Ironworks to Trefil was opened in 1814. It connected directly with the Brinore Tramroad giving continuous access to the Brecon canal at Talybont. By 1852 the Rhymney Ironworks no longer used the quarries at Trefil as they had opened quarries at Twynau Gwynion, served by the Rhymney Limestone Railway so the tramroad shut. Due to later workings around Rhymney and Brynoer Patch, nothing can be found of the tramroad between Rhymney town and Tafarnau-bach.

Rhymney Town - SO 1135 0775

The tramroad can be followed through Rhymney Town before it disappears under modern housing and the Brynoer reclamation. From the furnace tops it crossed Victoria Road and followed the lane at the rear of High Street before joining it near the church. It then went up Kings Avenue and disappears in the housing estate at the end.

Tafarnau-bach - SO 1205 1038

This short stretch of the tramroad route ran in front of the Siloam Chapel, Tafarnau-bach, before the route was swallowed by the industrial estate.

Nant-y-bwch - SO 1275 1100

The tramroad passed through Nant-y-bwch on its way to its meeting with the Tredegar Tramroad at Pentwyn Farm. There was no junction here as the two tramroads were different gauges, they carried on to Trefil side-by-side.

Tredegar Tramroad to Trefil

Quick links to :-     Trefil Railroad and Railway     Brinore Tramroad     Tredegar  Tramroad
    Rhymney Tramroad     Trefil Village and Quarries

Tredegar Tramroad to Trefil

The 2'9" gauge Tredegar Tramroad was built by Samuel Harford in c1804 to link Tredegar ironworks with Trefil quarries. At Nant-y-bwch it joined a line to Rhymney Union ironworks, also owned by Harford. In 1820 Benjamin Hall took over the Rhymney ironworks and built a new line of 3'4" gauge to Trefil. This met the Tredegar Tramroad at Penrhyn farm and the two tramroads carried on, side-by-side, to Trefil. There the Tredegar Tramroad headed in to the quarries while the Rhymney Tramroad went further on to join the Brinore Tramroad. Just before Trefil village the Tredegar line looped around an outcrop, the Rhymney line blasted through it. Rhymney ironworks stopped using Trefil in 1852 and the Tredegar Tramroad took over the cutting through the outcrop. Around 1854 steam locomotives made their appearance on the tramroad, the first two built at Tredegar ironworks. Later locos came from Fletcher Jennings and Vulcan. Tredegar ironworks ceased production in 1900 and Trefil was left solely to Ebbw Vale and the Trefil Railroad.

Trefil Village and quarries

Quick links to :-     Trefil Railroad and Railway     Brinore Tramroad     Tredegar  Tramroad
    Rhymney Tramroad     Trefil Village and Quarries

Trefil Village and the original quarry - SO 120134

Blaen-duffryn Quarry - SO 1000 1500

Hendre and Ystrad Quarries - SO 087145

Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

Thanks for addition information to :- T Eric Davies, Mark Lloyd.
'Early Limestone Railways' by John van Laun, The Newcomen Society

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All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins