Industrial Wales - West Wales
Saundersfoot, Porthgain, Abereiddi and others.
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The industrial history and archaeology of West Wales

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Porthgain and Abereiddy

Quick links to :-     Defence and Fortifications     Porthgain and Abereiddi     The Saundersfoot Railway     Stepaside Ironworks
    Around Pembrokeshire

Porthgain Harbour SM 8142 3255

Porthgain and Abereiddi were both slate quarries from around 1840 to the 1890s, by which time Abereiddy was disused. In 1893 the focus was on stone quarrying and brickmaking at Porthgain. Various companies came and went until final closure in 1931. Being so remote the infrastructure has just quietly decayed. What is left is a veritable paradise for Industrial Archeaologists and all easily accessible.

The harbour was the site of the brickworks, crushers and ore hoppers, gradually developing over the years, with major re-building of the harbour in 1902-1904. The brickworks has disappeared except for one building, now a cafe, with the stump of one chimney next to it. The huge bulk of the hoppers stand guard over the harbour, the crusher in the centre and ore chutes at each end.

St Brides Quarry, Porthgain - SM 8122 3246

St Brides Quarry was the original quarry at Porthgain, operated by inclines and briefly Blondin ropeways up and down to the harbour. Later a tunnel ran straight through to the harbour, emerging near the Eastern ore chutes. The engine shed, weighbridge and water facilities were located here, probably a little more sheltered that at Pen Clegyr.

Pen Clegyr Quarry, Porthgain - SM 8075 3270

The waste tips were nearest to the hoppers with the tramway, known as 'Jerusalem Road' running down to the main stone quarry at Pen Clegyr. Inclines ran to the two working faces and the smithy and other engineering facilities were here.

St Brides Slate Quarry, Abereiddy - SM 7945 3150

St Brides Slate Quarry, Abereiddy had a fairly short life and was linked to Porthgain by a horse-worked tramway following the contours of Barry Island (but this Barry Island is not the pleasure beach of the valleys). At some time the stone between the quarry and the sea was blasted away to create the 'Blue Lagoon' that you see here now. The 'lift' may have been a steep incline as in North Wales, rather than a vertical lift.

Defence and Fortifications

Quick links to :-     Defence and Fortifications     Porthgain and Abereiddi     The Saundersfoot Railway     Stepaside Ironworks
    Around Pembrokeshire

Castlemartin Ranges - SR 9681 9305 to 9711 9303

A group of three target bunkers, the middle and Western are connected by a 2'6" tramway. Two more bunkers are on the headland with tramways and wagon turntables but I didn't see them on this visit. Nearby at Penally are practice trenches used for training in WW1.

Begelly airfield bombing decoy - SN 1089 0747

This was the command post, type Q, built in 1941 - 1943 as part of an airfield bombing decoy protecting the RAF airfield at Carew Cheriton.

The Saundersfoot Railway

Quick links to :-     Defence and Fortifications     Porthgain and Abereiddi     The Saundersfoot Railway     Stepaside Ironworks
    Around Pembrokeshire

The Thomas Chapel and Reynalton Branches

The Harbour, Bonvilles Court and the Tunnel

Begelly - SN 1130 0720

From the tunnel under Saundersfoot Station the railway passed over the common to reach Begelly where there were a number of old collieries.

Broom (Shipping) Colliery branch - SN 1089 0790

Broom (or Shipping) Colliery seems to have opened c1860, closing in c1880. However it re-opened in 1934, reached by an incline from a siding of the Saundersfoot Railway, but it closed in 1939.

Thomas Chapel - SN 1040 0905

The end of the line from Saundersfoot was the site af a number of old collieries. Thomas Chapel Colliery would have on the East of the line here, as was New Hayes Colliery. Hackett colliery was to the West of the line, near the Reynalton extension. These collieries were mostly closed in the 1860s. The ruins of a building, possibly a mill, stand at the end of the line.

The Reynalton Branch

Mining had been carried out around Reynalton since since 1795 but came into prominence in 1913 when the New Reynalton Anthracite Coal Co opened new workings and the Saunderfoot Railway was extended to serve them. Sadly little came of the venture and it was abandoned in 1922.

The Wisemans Bridge and Stepaside Branch

Saundersfoot to Wiseman's Bridge

The most well-known stretch of the Saundersfoot Railway, running down Railway Street (now The Strand) and through the coastal tunnels to Wiseman's Bridge.

Wiseman's Bridge to Stepaside and Kilgetty

Turning inland, the railway follows the Kilgetty Canal up to the collieries and ironworks at Stepaside.

Black Walk Tramroad

An old tramroad ran from Cants Colliery at St Issell's to the beach at Coppet Hall. It was 'old' in 1845 and can be followed as a footpath through the inevitable caravan site but becomes more obvious near Coppet Hall.

Original rails and sleeper from Saundersfoot

Stewart Liles has sent me these photos of Saundersfoot Railway rails and sleeper, He says :- "We recently (2021) stayed on a small caravan site in Pembrokeshire and discovered that it was adjacent to an embankment which carried the trackbed of the old Saundersfoot Railway (4ft gauge) near the village of Begelly. This was the branch which lead from the harbour, around four miles inland to Thomas Chapel colliery, and opened in 1834, not the one which ran along the coast. The caravan site owner showed me two lengths of cast iron fish-bellied rail that he had found years ago; unfortunately each is missing an end. Apparently quite a number have been found but many are now built into people's houses as fireplace lintels, etc!
The rails are 50" long including a 2.5” overlap at each end where they sat in a chair; 4.75" deep in the centre; 2.5" deep at the ends and 1.75" wide on the running surface. Lugs protrude downward near each end, these would have located into holes in the chairs. Also around the area are a number of flat stone blocks, about a foot square, which once held the chairs; each have 2 holes in and a rectangular rust stain."

Stepaside (Kilgetty) Ironworks and Grove Colliery

Quick links to :-     Defence and Fortifications     Porthgain and Abereiddi     The Saundersfoot Railway     Stepaside Ironworks
    Around Pembrokeshire

Stepaside (Kilgetty) Ironworks - SN 1410 0735

Stepaside or Kilgetty Ironworks opened in 1849 with one of the two furnaces at work. Originally the Pembrokeshire Iron & Coal Co, it became part of the Bonvilles Court Coal & Iron Co in 1873 until closure in 1876. Operation was always very intermittant and only occasionally were both furnaces alight. Some of the workshops were used until the 1930s but most of the works just slumbered.

Ore and Coal Bins, Calcining and Lime Kilns

The top of the furnaces

Engine House

Furnaces and Casting House

Coke Ovens and Workshops

Grove Colliery - SN 1392 0711

Built in 1856, the 640ft deep Grove Colliery is said to be the deepest pit dug by hand in Wales. It was connected underground to Lower Level Pit, an incline into the ironworks and a tramway down to Stepaside to connect with the Saundersfoot Railway. It closed c1897.

Around Pembrokeshire

Quick links to :-     Defence and Fortifications     Porthgain and Abereiddi     The Saundersfoot Railway     Stepaside Ironworks
    Around Pembrokeshire


A few pieces of assorted ironmongery from around the county

Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

'The Railways of Porthgain and Abereiddi' by R C Jermy
'Industrial Saundersfoot' and 'The Saundersfoot Railway', both by M. R. C. Price
Castlemartin ranges - IRS Bulletin 945, Brian Cuttell
The Defence of Britain Database

A Guide to the Website

All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins