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Industrial Wales
Pontypool Town and Pontnewynydd
From Panteg to Pontnewynydd via Pontymoile, Pontypool Town
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The Industrial Archaeology and History of Pontypool and Pontnewynydd

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Griffithstown and Panteg

Along the canal bank and railways

County Hospital, Griffithstown - ST 2927 9956

A narrow-gauge tramway ran from a siding on the MRCC line to deliver coal to the hospital boiler house. It crossed the Monmouthshire Canal to the hospital grounds on what appears to be simply a couple of girders on concrete abutments. The girders have gone but the abutments remain.

Pontypool Gasworks, New Inn - ST 2960 9980

The second gasworks in Pontypool opened in 1946, right beside Pontypool Road loco sheds, with extensive sidings coming off the Hereford line. The works closed in 1973 and the site is now an industrial estate. A public footpath ran around the site, beside the Hereford line, and to avoid the railway connecting line, a pedestrian subway was built. This still exists, fenced off and very overgrown, with the footpath now crossing the trackbed. The foundations of the main gasholder, which was dismantled in 2005, also lurks in the undergrowth.

Panteg Steelworks - ST 2965 9840

The Panteg Steelworks began operation in 1973 but had mixed success until 1883 when acquired by the forerunners of Richard Thomas and Baldwins Ltd. A period of expansion and modernisation followed right up to the late 1980s. Subsequently the works considerably reduced its activities and rail traffic ceased in 1989 before the final closure in 2004. The upper part of the works has been demolished and is now a housing estate. The lower part is still standing in 2009 but derelict. The photo was taken in 1966 at the north end of the works showing Peckett 2146, built in 1953. A footpath runs between what were the two sections of the works and leads to the original NAHR station building, derelict but still standing and an unusual footbridge over the Hereford line.





Pontymoile

The canal aqueducts - SO 293002
Pontypool NAHR Station - SO 2977 0011

There are three aqueducts at Pontymoile, the centre one is the course of the Afon Llwyd, the Western one was the route of the Pontypool Tramway and the Eastern one less obvious. It is certainly a footpath now but was it also a tramway route? The outside tubes are probably flood tunnels but the shape of the middle 'tube' suggests a horse tramway. There is no evidence of this on the old maps but.... The Western aqueduct has two tunnels, the Western one probably a watercouse and the Eastern one carried the tramway from the Lower Mills tinplate works to Pontypool town. All three aqueducts are in excellent condition.

Pontyymoile Tinplate Works - SO 2891 0046

This listed building in the builders merchant's yard is described as an iron and brass foundry on early maps and is the last remnant of the tinplate works complex.

Little Mill brickworks - SO 3150 0220

Originally shown as 'Bryntovey Brick Works' on OS maps, this works was started by John Burgoyne in 1850 according to his bricks! The name was changed to 'Little Mill Brick Co' around 1910 and the works continued until the 1980s, becoming a Go-Kart track





Pontypool Town

The MRCC through Pontypool

The MRCC has almost vanished under new roads through Pontypool.

Pontypool tramway

The tramway ran from Lower Mill, Pontymoile, to Osborne Forge at Pontnewynydd and is shown on the 1843 Tithe Map and the tracks appear to have been lifted on the 1920 OS map. It can be traced up the lane from the canal, across Usk Road and past Pontymoile tinplate works. The tramway carries along the riverbank through the leisure centre car park. At ST 2830 0081, the tramway passed through a tunnel, constructed c1825, under the town centre. The tunnel is maintained as it contains pipework for one of the services. There are openings to the right onto the steep riverbank and then it is blocked up. It is untraceable beyond here as it carried on along the riverbank to Town and Osborne Forges. Modern housing and roads have obliterated the area but in places the Western river banks and walls show their age and heritage.

Twmpath Colliery - SO 2777 0043

Twmpath Colliery is shown as 'disused' on the 1881 map. Even though it is marked as a coal mine it may well have started as an ironstone mine possibly linked with the Wainfelin iron mine.

Wern Hill Colliery - SO 2758 0080

Wern Hill Colliery operated from the 1890s to the 1930s, latterly owned by the Mynydd Maen Colliery Co and connected to both Mynydd Maen and the Elled Colliery underground.

Pontypool Park Forge

Pontypool Park Forge dates from the 1750s and was roughly where the leisure centre stands now. It was dismantled in 1831 and only the watercourse is shown on the 1843 Tithe Map. The watercourse comes from the weir upstream from the leisure centre. There may have been a tramroad link to the forge at Pont-y-Felin which could have used the central tunnel of the Eastern aqueduct under the canal.

Trosnant weir - SO 2842 0068

The weir was the principal source of water for the leat to the Pontymoile Tinplate Works and the Lower Mills, running alongside the tramway. The single Eastern sluice gate controlled the level of water behind the weir while the Western pair controlled the flow of water into the leat. On the opposite side of the river a leat led to Park Forge with the water returning to the river from the upper of the three tunnels further downstream.

Riverbank tunnels - SO 2860 0070

Three tunnels emerge from the Eastern riverbank in quick succession. The first is quite small and the water from it crossed the river on an aqueduct and appears to have fed the leat from the weir to the Lower Mill. The second may have been the outlet from the waterwheel at Park Forge and the third is for the stream.

Pontymoile reservoir - SO 2882 0055

This reservoir was just above Pontymoile Tinplate Works and an overflow tunnel led back to the river, controlled by a sluice gate.

Pontypool's other tunnels

There was a network of tunnels under the main shopping streets of Pontypool, Crane Street, Market Street and towards George Street. From 'Old Pontypool', "They were like delivery tunnels to the shops with an access hatch and steps to each individual shop. There seemed to be what could be described as Loading Bays down there as well, They went as far as the end of Market St." and " Go down the steps (below Crane St.) and right on the Bottom there is a steel Manhole cover, when I worked on the building of Fine Fare we had to remove this cover there is a lovely stone tunnel going up Crane St. and also turns right to George St."




Pontnewynydd

Wainfelin and Tranch Iron Mine - SO 2751 0171

Wainfelin iron mine possibly dates from the 18th century but the original arch had a keystone inscribed 'CHL 1831'. It seems to have originally been worked from Old Furnace so this is the back door. The 1880 OS map shows a coal level near Osborne Forge, SO 2769 0164, which was probably part of the same complex.

Merchants Hill - SO 2752 0163

Pontnewynydd Tinplate Works powerhouse - SO 2696 0171

This building is believed to be the powerhouse for Pontnewynydd Tinplate Works but has recently been demolished. I was surprised to find that I had only taken two photos of it so Miles Gladson has kindly provided some more.

Tranch and Elled Collieries

Cwm Ffrwd-oer Village and Plas-y-coed

Oak brickworks - SO 2654 0172
Gwenallt Colliery, or Jack Pit - SO 2635 0160
Viaduct Colliery - SO 2637 0191

Oak brickworks first appears on the 1899 OS map and produced bricks and pipes until the late 1960s or early 1970s. In the 1920s, John Maybury was chairman of the Oak Brick Co, Pontypool, so it is possible Maybury bricks were produced with a Maybury die at the Oak works. Across the railway line Gwenallt Colliery, or Jack Pit, was open before 1880 and was used for pumping Tirpentwys from 1929 to 1949. The site is now the local football pitch. Viaduct Colliery was primarily a GKN fireclay mine for GKN from 1900 to 1953, currently the primary school.

Eastern Valleys Blackvein Colliery, Plas-y-Coed - SO 2621 0138

Up to 1899 the site was Plas-y-coed Brickworks but, by 1917, had become the Eastern Valleys Blackvein Colliery, closing in 1939.





Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

Thanks for the use of their photographs to :-
Mike Kilner, Lawrence Skuse, Dennis Hopkins, Miles Gladson and 'Coflein'
'The Wainfelin and Tranch Iron Mine' by Bill Gascoigne, November 1993. A description and history with photos and a plan of the workings.


All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins