Industrial Wales - West Wales
West Glam, Carmarthen and Brecon
The Afan Valley, the Gower and Brecon
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The industrial history and archaeology of West Wales

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The Afan Valley

Quick links to :-     The Afan Valley and Cymmer     Neath Abbey Ironworks     Neath Valley     Swansea     The Gower     Pontneddfechan and Penwyllt     Brecon and Carmarthenshire     Pembrokeshire

Port Talbot



Abergwynfi - SS 9006 9611

Avon Colliery had a long tramway running up the hillside to Avon Level Collieries. At one point it crossed the River Afan on a rather flimsy viaduct. Ceri Jones took these photos of the remains c2019.

Cwm Pelenna Colliery - SS 8169 9720

The ventilation furnace, flue and chimney at Cwm Pelenna were connected with the Fforch-dwm level, driven by Robert Parsons and Charles Strange in the late 1830s. The colliery was re-worked from the 1890s as the Mercantile Colliery, then the Blaenmawr Navigation Colliery, the Garth Level, and finally by the National Coal Board as Garth Tonmawr Colliery until closure in 1964.
Thanks to Gwyn Jenkins for the photos and info.


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Morfa Copperworks - SS 6610 9520

Morfa Copperworks was opened in 1835 by 'Williams Foster & Co' and combined with the Hafod Copperworks in 1924 to form 'British Copper Manufacturers' and copper smelting stopped. The combined works became the 'Yorkshire Imperial Metals Ltd' in 1957 and the rolling Mills finally closed in 1980. The site is now a 'park-and-ride' and the buildings are being re-developed.

Hafod Copperworks - SS 6615 9497

Hafod Copperworks was started by 'Vivian & Sons' in 1810, combining with the adjacent Morfa Copperworks in 1924. Two engine houses and their chimneys survive, one containing its'Musgrave' engine. this engine drove the rope race outside which powered the rolling mills. Further down the riverbank is the 'V & S Ltd No 1 shed', the main locomotive shed for the complex but the structure is cuerrectly surrounded by scaffolding.

Swansea Canal - SS 6610 9507

The Swansea Canal opened in 1796, traffic not finally ceasing until 1931. The bridge over the canal led from the Hafod Copperworks to the office block. The limekiln is shown on the 1875 OS map.

White Rock Copperworks - SS 6625 9480

White Rock Copperworks, the third oldest of the Swansea copperworks, was established in 1737, closing in 1924, Even though much of the site was cleared and covered over in the 1960s, there are still remains worth seeing. These include the river dock, the canal dock, the incline to the tip and some of the 'Great Workhouse'.

Llansamlet Canal (Smiths Canal), White Rock - SS 6636 9475

The Llansamlet Canal, or Smiths Canal, was opened in c1784 from Llansamlet to Foxhole. It was the main supplier of coal to the White Rock Copperworks where there was a basin and a covered way or tunnel under the Great Workhouse with access points into the work area. The main line of the canal probably closed c1850.

The Swansea and Mumbles Railway

The Swansea and Mumbles Railway (earlier 'The Oystermouth Railway') opened in 1806 to transport limestone for building Swansea. Passenger traffic began in 1807, worked by horses until 1877 when steam locos took over. The line was electrified in 1929 and closed in 1960.

The Gower Peninsular

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Bishopston Lead Mines

All-Slade Mine - SS 5851 8748

All-Slade Mine was first recorded working in the late 1700s when twas said to have made a profit of £12,000 but it's probably older than that. Active again for three years from about 1810, the mine is mentioned in "A Topographical Dictionary of The Dominion of Wales by Nicholas Carlisle, London, 1811", which says :- "There is a Lead mine in a Valley in this Parish, called All Slade, about a quarter of a mile from the Sea-shore. This Mine was re-opened about two years ago, and some Tons of Ore of a good quality were raised from it, but it was again dropped, either for want of Capital or Spirit in the Adventurers. Several Implements of the ancient Miners were discovered upon reopening it, which occasioned an idea that they perished in the Mine, but no remains of them were found." The mine was finally reopened as the Bishopston Silver-Lead Mine from 1850-53 with workings only reaching 14 fathoms below the deep level; reports in the Mining Journal state that the pump was never able to adequately cope with the influx of water. The only recorded output was 10 tons of lead ore in 1853.

Long Ash Mine - SS 5742 8862

Long Ash lead Mine was opened in 1852 but there was very little ore and it soon ceased work.

Pwll Du Quarry - SS 5851 8748

Pwll Ddu Quarry dates back to the 1600s and closed c1900. The quarry was let to individuals who managed their own section. The stone was piled on the beach to await shipping only in the Summer months.

Port Eynon

Saltworks and quarries

I wasn't expecting to find much old industry along the Gower coast but there turned out to be quite a few quarries, limekilns and this saltworks dotted about the coastal path.
The buildings date from the early 1600s and were soon extended to become a saltworks. This didn't last much after 1700, the saltpans being demolished and the building became home to the quarrymen and fishermen until the early 1900s

Coastal Limekilns

Little Tor, Three Cliffs - SS 5289 8797
Overton Mere, Port Eynon - SS 4540 8490
Ram Grove, Pitton - SS 4303 8685

Mewslade Bay kiln 1 - SS 4191 8726

Above the Eastern end of Mewslade Bay, shown as 'old limekiln' in 1879 with an adjacent quarry

Mewslade Bay kiln 2 - SS 4142 8744

At the Western end of Mewslade Bay where Fall Bay begins, shown as 'old limekiln' in 1879

Landimore - SS 4653 9339
Cwm Ivy, Llanmadoc - SS 4401 9374

One of 4 limekilns that existed in Landimore, Gower in 1878. I must have walked past the site of the most northerly which must be gone, the other two may still exist, another look another time ! And one next door at Llanmadoc.

Whiteford Sands

Whiteford Lighthouse - SS 4437 9726

This is the only cast-iron wave-swept lighthouse left in Europe. It was built in 1865 and designed by John Bowen of Llanelli and is 44ft high. The lighthouse was disused from 1920 to the 1980s when it was re-lit using solar power. Sadly this failed and the lighthouse is now just a physical beacon.

Unknown wreck - SS 445966

The wreck of an unknown steel ship lies just South of the lighthouse, complete with boiler and other pieces of ironmongery. At SS 449966 part of an upturned wooden boat appears and disappears with the sands.

Clyne Valley Colliery

Bob Ashton from Northants sent this photo of colliers at the short-lived Clyne Valley Colliery, Dunvant, only open from 1903 to 1915.

Neath Abbey Ironworks

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Neath Abbey Ironworks

The blast furnaces

Offices, warehouse and workshops

Coke ovens and charging area

Rolling Mills and Woollen Mill

Heol Draw weir

Cwm Clydach

Neath Abbey Ironworks locomotives

Neath Abbey Ironworks are believed to have built 34 locos. This is a simplified list of their locomotive. Some were supplied as kits of parts and some are of doubtful provenance.

Date Built     Type Gauge Customer Name or Number
1829 0-4-0 4' 2" Thos Protheroe, Sirhowy Speedwell
1829 0-4-0 4' 2" Sirhowy Tramroad (Thos Protheroe)         Hercules
1830 0-4-0 4' 2" Ebbw Vale (Harford Davies) Hawk
1831 0-4-4-0 4' 2" Dowlais Iron Co -
1831 0-6-0 3' 6" Gloucester & Cheltenham Railway Royal William
1832 0-4-0 rack 4' 2" Dowlais Iron Co Perseverance
1832 0-4-0 - Ebbw Vale Industry
c1832 - - - Lark
1833 0-4-0 4' 2" Dowlais Iron Co Mountaineer
1833 0-4-0 4' 2" Dowlais Iron Co -
1834 0-6-0 Standard     Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway Camel
1834 0-6-0 Standard         Bodmin & Wadebridge Railway Elephant
1836 0-6-0 4' 2" Dowlais Iron Co John Watt
1836 0-4-4-0 geared         - Rhymney Forge -
1837 0-4-0 rack 4' 2" Dowlais Iron Co Yn Barod Etto
1837 0-4-0 - Dowlais Iron Co -
1838 0-6-0 rack Standard Dowlais Iron Co Dowlais
c1835 0-6-0 4' 2" Dowlais Iron Co Success
1848 0-4-2 Standard Taff Vale railway Neath Abbey
1848 0-6-0 Standard Monmouthshire Railway & Canal Co 2
1848 0-6-0 Standard Monmouthshire Railway & Canal Co 3
1848 0-6-0 Standard Monmouthshire Railway & Canal Co 4
1848 0-6-0 Standard Monmouthshire Railway & Canal Co 5
1855 4' 4" Standard Vivian & Sons, Swansea Caesar
1855 4' 4" Standard Vivian & Sons, Swansea -
1864 0-4-0 Standard Plymouth Iron Co, Merthyr Plymouth No 8
1864 2-4-0T 3' 0" Rhymney Iron Co -
c1860s 0-4-0ST 3' 0" Neath Abbey Iron Co Possibly went to Skewen incline, 2' 7½" gauge
c1860s 0-4-0ST - Aberdare Iron Co 2
c1860s 0-4-0ST - Aberdare Iron Co Success
c1860s 0-4-0ST - Aberdare Iron Co -
c1860s 0-4-0ST 3' 2" Pascoe Grenfell Co, Swansea -
c1870 0-6-0T 2' 7½" Main Colliery, Skewen 'Abercrave'
1871 0-4-0 3' 0" Cyfarthfa Ironworks -
Unknown - - South America -

Neath Valley

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Aberdulais and Cadoxton

Between Aberdulais and Neath

Cilfrew and Graig Gwladys

Tydraw Colliery, Cilfrew - SN 7668 0103
Tor Cefn Colliery, Cilfrew - SN 7637 0219

Tydraw Colliery is reported to have worked from 1889 to 1908 but isn't on the 1899 map. It does appear on the 1935 OS map as 'disused', connected to the long tramway from Tor Cefn Colliery to a tipping dock on the Neath & Brecon Railway at Cilfrew. Tor Cefn Nos 1 to 5 levels were worked by Evans & Bevan from c1866 to 1886 when they were abandoned

Graig Cilfrew Colliery, Graig Gwladys - SS 7665 9983

Graig Cilfrew Colliery was a short-lived re-working of what seems to be a pre-1880s level. It opened in 1912 but was abandoned in 1919. Its tramway ran North-Eastwards over a weighbridge to connect with the main Graig Gwladys tramway to the incline.
For more info on Graig Gwladys woods see their Facebook page :- Friends of Graig Gwladys

Gelliau Colliery, Graig Gwladys - SS 7659 9962

Gelliau Colliery (also known as Gellia Cadoxton Colliery) was one of Evans & Bevan's collieries, working from c1865 to abandonment in1884. A substantial engine house remains at the level entrance. Th colliery was possibly the largest on a long tramway running from the top of Graig Gwladys incline to Griag-y-gigfran. The incline ran down to the Neath &Brecon Railway and the Tennant Canal.

Cadoxton and Rhydding

Cadoxton Limekilns - SS 7550 9868
Rhydding Colliery bridge - SS 7567 9839

Hidden in the undergrowth is what looks to be a bank of 6 limekilns that don't appear on any OS maps though 1960s maps show a quarry face behind them. The bridge under the Vale of Neath line was used by the tramway from Rhydding Colliery at SS 7500 9865 to the wharf on the Tennant Canal in 1880.

Cadoxton Colliery lower level - SS 7550 9920
Cadoxton Colliery upper level - SS 7561 9941
Cefnfaes Level - SS 7576 9971

The Cadoxton levels were a run of old levels in 1881 but worked on and off until the 1950s and possibly longer. They were linked by a tramway running down to Rhydding Colliery, a (brake) drum being shown on the 1880 map.

The Tennant Canal from Aberdulais to Neath

The Neath Canal at Resolven


Abernant and Pontwalby Brickworks

These historical photos of Glynneath are courtesy of Roy Bowen from the W E Bowen collection. The Abernant Brickworks photos show in the background wagons at the screens and the foot of the incline to Rock Colliery and Bryn Ceffylau Colliery. The canal ended at the wharf opposite Abernant Brickworks and the tramroad went on to the silica mines and gunpowder works at Pontneddfechan. The Pontwalby photos show the Gunpowder Works tramroad going off to the right from the brickworks and the Pontwalby Viaduct on the Vale of Neath Railway with the incline of the Cefn Rhigos Tramroad climbing the hillside.

Dulais Valley

Cefn Coed Mining Museum - SN 7853 0321

During 2020-21 the Cefn Coed Mining Museum was closed to allow the headgear to be restored. This is the 'behind-the-scenes' work in progress

The Counties of Brecon and Carmarthen

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Gasworks and Hay Railway - SO 0518 2800

The gasworks is shown on the 1888 to 1964 OS maps but then slowly disappears. The 3'6" gauge 'Hay Railway' dates from 1816 and connected with the Kington Tramroad at Eardisley to form the longest tramroad in the UK - 36 miles. They were converted to railways from 1860.

Watton limekilns - SO 0547 2792

The Watton Limekilns at Brecon, a set of five kilns on the banks of the Brecon and Abergavenny Canal. The righthand (Eastern) two or three were built c1802 with the fourth added around 1805-6 in the same style. Sometime after 1807 a fifth smaller kiln was added at the Western end. They were fed from behind by the canal and the lime removed by tram on the Hay Railway below. The four main kilns had double drawholes while the fifth had a single drawhole.

Out and About in Breconshire


Nevills Railway, Llanelly Past and Present

These old photos of Nevills Railway in Llanelly appeared on the'Wales Past and Present' Facebook group so with huge help from Keith Morris (who supplied all the info) I was able to locate the present-day views. Three sites can still be intentified but the fourth has changed beyond recognition.

Photo 1 - Heol Fawr - you can make out the street name on the house on the left - although that is in fact Gathen Terrace!! Entrance to the Western Works (Tinplate) in the middle. The curved roof in the background is Waddles Patent Fan and Engineering Works. Picture must have been taken in the late 50's after the trolleybuses had finished (no overhead wires) as they went up Heol Fawr to Station Road.

Photo 2 - Bryn Terrace - the telephone box is at the junction with Marine Street. The line going to the right went to Llanelli West Box (Trevose sidings) via St Davids Lane whilst the line going to the left went to Zammit's yard (where Nevill's Loco shed was). The works in the background was part of the "Tin Stamping" works

Photo 3 - South side of the railway in 1952 - Glanmor Road looking South, Copperworks Rd is crossing the background (where the SWT bus is) - the loco is proceeding north to join with the line from St Davids Lane at Trevose Sidings by Glanmor Foundry (behind Llanelli West Box). The loco is Nevill's "Kathleen"

Photo 4 - Cambrian Street looking SE. Behind the photographer the line continued to Old Castle Crossing - in the distance the line continued behind the backyards to join up with the previous picture at Bryn Terrace

Llanybyther Brickworks - SN 5038 4226

Assuming that this is the brickworks shown on the map at Highmead, I'm told that a large walled garden was built there in the 1860s for which the brickworks may have been built. The brickworks only appears on the 1887 map and is already marked as 'disused'.

Dolaucothi Gold Mine - SN 6645 4030

Dolaucothi Gold Mine, August 1993
Dolaucothi Gold Mine

Dolaucothi Gold Mine, August 1993
Dolaucothi Gold Mine

Dolaucothi Gold Mine, August 1993
Dolaucothi Gold Mine

Dolaucothi Gold Mine
Dolaucothi Gold Mine

Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

Thanks for information and the use of their photographs to :- Bob Ashton, Robert Griffiths, '', Euros Jones, Hugh Pincott.
For more info on Graig Gwladys woods see their Facebook page :- Friends of Graig Gwladys

A Guide to the Website

All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins