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Industrial Wales - Monmouthshire's Eastern Valley
Blaenavon - West of the Afon Lwyd
From Forgeside to Waunavon via Coity and Mifraen
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The Industrial Archaeology and history of Forgeside, Coity, Big Pit, Milfraen and Waunavon

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Forgeside

Aaron Brutes bridge - SO 2485 0880
Aaron Brutes level - SO 2480 0880

Aaron Brutes bridge is one of the oldest cast-iron bridges in the world, dating from 1812. The level just beyond it mined iron ore for the works and closed in 1843. By 2009 the bridge was unsafe but was restored and re-opened in 2013. It carried a tramroad from the level to the ironworks. Underneath the bridge is a small drainage level.

Johnsons Colliery - SO 2484 0786
Forgeside Powerhouse - SO 2426 0861

Johnsons Colliery was a working colliery, not in general use but the subject of exploratory work during 2010. Forgeside Powerhouse was the original powerhouse for the Forgeside complex. the brick-built building is still in industrial use and dates from the 1920s. Next to it is the Forge Pond and a lot of foundations.





Big Pit and the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway

Big Pit - SO 2383 0880





Blaentillery No 2 Colliery

A derelict colliery in January 2014 - SO 2350 0818

Sadly, over the four years since my last visit, work has ceased, the levels have been blocked and the surface facilities have been stripped and vandalised.

A working colliery in March 2010

Two levels and interesting selection of old drams, this is the colliery featured in the filming of the BBC's 'Coalhouse' series.

Below the surface in 2012

An underground visit just after work ceased and the levels sealed.





Coity Quarry to Whistle Inn

Coity Quarry - SO 2330 0830

Coity sandstone quarry was working by 1844 supplying stone for the ironworks, housing and collieries in the area and had closed by the mid-1880s. The prominent incline ran down through Coity Colliery to the Ironworks and coke ovens, the upper half closing with the quarry. The lower half continued until 1900 to serve the colliery, which was incorporated into Big Pit, becoming its upcast shaft. In the quarry are the remains of the brake wheel mechanism and other ironmongery, including a cast cog on the end of a wooden shaft. Next to the drum are a pair of rails leading from the drum to the tips and a fenced airshaft with a pulley hoist over it, which was connected to a level just below the quarry.

Coity Farm, level and reservoir - SO 2337 0928

Coity Farm was possibly medieval but the 'leftovers' are from C18th but considerably changed over the years.
An old level is shown on OS maps next to the farm, a very small level still exists in 2010, possibly just a drainage level from the coal levels above it.
A pond formed the basis of the 1861 reservoir supplying water to the Forgeside blast furnaces.

'Robens Folly' or Blaentillery Drift - SO 2315 0860

The very top of the 1966 Blaentillery Level, known as 'Roben's Folly' because it found no workable coal at all, that goes right through the mountain to Abertillery can be seen on the West side of the track from Milfraen. The rest is buried beneath your feet. Dennis Hopkins has sent his 1990 photo so you can see what you're standing on. Have a look at his website :- . Look for the link to 'Old industrial sites' in the first paragraph.

ADWB pipeline tunnel - SO 2291 0937

The Abertillery and District Water Board (ADWB) pipeline from Grwynne Fawr Reservoir to Abertillery enters the Coity Mountain here. The tunnel was built between 1912 and 1915 and is just short of a mile long. The gated concrete entrance and tips from excavation are easily found. I'm told there's a stop valve on top of Coity Mountain and, of course, there's the other end to find somewhere near Blaentillery farm.

Ty Rheinallt Farm - SO 2324 0960

Ty Rheinallt Farm was a c19th farmhouse, which was abandoned in 1967 due to subsidence. Next to it is a filled-in airshaft, possibly once ventilating the Garn Pits.

Pwrcas Cottages - SO 2283 1022

A single cottage is shown on the 1841 tithe map. What remains is more modern, c19th.





Marquess Red Ash and Milfraen Colliery

Marquess Red Ash Colliery - SO 2084 0963

Marquess Red Ash Colliery was opened by 1902 and shown as disused by 1922. The site consists of tips, old rails and stonework with the drainage level and the incline to Mifraen Colliery in amongst the bracken below.

Milfraen Colliery - SO 2179 1010

Milfraen Colliery opened in c1845, was rebuilt in 1865 and closed in 1933 following an explosion in 1929. It was retained for ventilation until the mid 1930s. The area has been cleared but the site of the shaft, foundations and earthworks remain.





Waunavon





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