Industrial Wales - Monmouthshire's Rhymney Valley
The Northern Rhymney Valley
From Aberbargoed to Blaen Rhymney and the Darran Valley.
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The Industrial Archaeology and History of the Northern Rhymney Valley and the Darran Valley

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Between Fochriw and Rhaslas Pond

A maze of one-time railways, mines and watercourses. One more modern claim to fame is that an early David Tennant episode of Doctor Who was filmed up here. It was called Tooth and Claw, when the Doctor and Rose met Queen Victoria on a Scottish moor, (actually Fochriw!)

Around Fochriw Colliery feeder pond - SO 0993 0547

Tips, shafts and workings from the late 19th century.

The Brecon and Merthyr Railway - SO 0996 0638

The Brecon and Merthyr Railway bridged the Pontlottyn road here. To the South an embankment ran to Fochriw past the sidings to Fochriw Colliery on the right. A brick-built building near the site of the station may be a permanent way hut. To the North a deep cutting took the line towards Pant-y-Waun Halt but this soon disappears under the opencast tips.

Around Rhaslas Pond - SO 0950 0715

Rhaslas Pond was opened c1818 as one of the largest ponds that formed the Dowlais Free Drainage System. This system of linked ponds primarily fed water to Dowlais and Ivor ironworks.

Rhaslas Houses Quarry - SO 0907 0715

Rhaslas Houses were a pair of houses built prior to 1868 with a small quarry behind them and Rhaslas Pit in front. The quarry may have been the source of stone to line Rhaslas Pit shaft.

Rhaslas Pit - SO 0927 0702

Rhaslas Pit appears to be a ventilating shaft dating from before 1870 but only known as 'Rhaslas Pit' by 1898. Prior to 1898 'Rhaslas Pit' is shown as just below Lower Four Foot Pit but by then marked as an 'old shaft'.

Tunnel Pit Houses - SO 0932 0632

Tunnel Pit Houses or South Tunnel Houses were built between 1870 and 1890 opposite South Tunnel Pit as a row of four cottages. They were rebuilt into one property, the 'Tunnel Tavern' in the 1970s and I believe it closed and was demolished in the late 1980s. Shepherds Pond above them was part of the Dowlais Free Drainage System of 1818. The 'tunnel' was the B&MR tunnel under the Merthyr Road in 1868 but this had gone by 1898, replaced by a bridge. Of the South Tunnel Pit itself, there's not the slightest trace.

Pant-y-Waun Mineral Railway

In 1875 the Pant-y-Waun Mineral Railway linked Dowlais Ironworks with Pant-y-waun Pit, Carnau Drift, Mine Pits Nos 1 and 2 and Lower Four Feet Pit. It was worked by locos from Dowlais Ironworks. Pant-y-waun Pit, Carno Drift and Mine Pits Nos 1 and 2 were closed c1886 so the railway from Dowlais to Lower Four Feet Pit closed and an extension Southwards to Tunnel Pit and Fochriw opened instead. The sinking of Tunnel Pit commenced in 1859 but was suspended until 1869, coal being raised in 1874 and it closed in 1924. That spelled the end of the Pant-y-Waun Mineral Railway and unfortunately very little remains due to the opencast and reclamation work.

Lower Four Feet Pit - SO 0910 0745

Lower Four Feet Pit probably started work c1856 with Pant-y-waun Pit and was reported flooded in 1868 when a shaft and level are shown on the OS map. At this time 'Rhaslas Pit' was just a few yards away. It was linked to Dowlais Ironworks by the Pant-y-Waun Mineral Railway. By 1898 Lower Four Feet Pit was much reduced and by 1915 is just shown as a pumping station. Nothing but tips are shown on the 1948 map except the 'old shaft' of Rhaslas Pit.

The Darran Valley

Bargoed to Groes-faen Colliery - SO 1346 0057

Lansbury Park Estate has been built over the site of the colliery, which was working from 1863 to 1892 at the end of a short branch of the Caerphilly - Machen line. The colliery branch can be followed as footpaths through the estate. In 2012 the shafts were re-opened for a new concrete cap to be built. Opened beside the colliery, the gasworks functioned until the 1920s. Some decent stone walls remain to show it's positionand on Google Earth you can just make out the gasholder site in the grass.

Wingfield Colliery sidings - SO 1345 0055

The screens and sidings on the BMR opposite Groes-faen Colliery. Previously the tramways from Bryncoch Colliery had a loading bank here.

Groes-faen Colliery - SO 1350 0060

Darran Colliery - SO 1305 0125

Deri Village and Station - SO 1285 0170

In the hills around Deri

Deri overbridge - SO 1254 0247

The wooden overbridge spanning the BMR main line and the Ogilvie Colliery branch is now a listed structure and was restored in 2010.

Ogilvie Colliery - SO 1202 0298

Fochriw and Pentwyn

New Tredegar

Elliots Colliery and Cwm Syfiog

Tir-phil - SO 1350 0355

White Rose Colliery - SO 1405 0385

The amazing 'colliery in a cupboard', probably a drainage level as the main level and second level were at the other end of the tramway which terminated by the BMR here. White Rose Colliery was part of Thomas Powell's empire, later Powell Duffryn, working by 1850 and closed in 1908.

New Tredegar Colliery - SO 1380 0455




A vanished village below Pontlottyn

Rhymney Merthyr Colliery - SO 1215 0555



Nant Llesg Pit - SO 1050 0830

Nant Llesg Pit and Pitwellt were ironstone mines either side of Nant Llesg House, open by 1875 and disused by 1898. By 1915 a series of large water tanks and buildings were built in the grounds of Nant Llesg House but are now disused. The Rumney Ironstone Railway to the limestone quarries at Twynau Gwynion ran past the site.

Union Ironworks, Llechryd - SO 1085 0917

This is an 1802 upper blast furnace on the site of the Union Ironworks, the first ironworks in Rhymney. A Boulton and Watt 24cyl, 5 stroke (double) blowing engine was supplied in 1801.

Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

Thanks to :- Andrew Ralph for more information.
'The Merthyr Historian', the magazine of the Merthyr Tydvil Historical Society

All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins