Industrial Wales - Monmouthshire's Western Valley
Abercarn, West End and the Gwyddon Valley
including Celynon South Colliery and Abercarn Tinplate Works
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The industrial archaeology and history of Abercarn, West End and the Gwyddon Valley

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Prince of Wales Colliery

Prince of Wales Colliery - ST 2140 9465

Abercarn Tinplate Works

Lower tinplate works - ST 2122 9501

Upper tinplate works - ST 2161 9528

Around Abercarn

The tunnel under High Street - ST 2156 9486

This tunnel under High Street appears to be quite old but it's purpose is obscure. It was probably access to Abercarn Furnace or an early tramroad to the canal from Quarry Pit. It also seems to have been used as a bomb shelter during WW2 according to post-war maps.

Abercarn Furnace - ST 2162 9487

This is the site of the second furnace of 1753 which ceased work in c1788. The first iron furnace was at Graig Furnace higher up the Gwyddon Valley and later ironworks were nearer the site of the lower tinplate works.
The print of the works in the 1770s is available from

The chemical works and distillery pond - ST 2180 9485
Abercarn Brewery - ST 2220 9500

The chemical works produced acid for use in the tinplate works but had closed down by 1899 leaving the distillery pond to be used as a reservoir, also famous for its midnight Viking funeral ceremonies, loved-one's ashes put in a little matchstick boat, set alight and launched across the pond, a midnight dip, anyone? . Abercarn Brewery was a little further upstream but it too had closed by 1899 to become a mineral water factory until the 1940s.

Hafod Quarry, High Meadow - ST 2260 9655

A large modern quarry which developed after 1948 on the site of an older small quarry.

West End

West End

A small, almost self-contained community on the West bank of the river, once the home of the gasworks, fire station and a foundry. There was also a railway line through the houses connecting the GWR with Halls Road Tramroad.

Celynon South Colliery

Celynon South Colliery - ST 215959

The site of the colliery has been completely cleared and being re-developed but an interesting relic of the aerial ropeway still exists. The ropeway ran from the colliery to the now-landscaped tips at ST 222968. At some time it appears bucket No. 33 fell off the ropeway, spilling its contents and ending up in the undergrowth at ST 2180 9630 where it still waits patiently to complete its journey.

The Gwyddon Valley

Gwyddon Trial Level - ST 2255 9410
Sawmills - ST 2372 9577

A rifle range existed periodically on the South side of the valley and, where the targets were, a square-cut stone tunnel leads about 300ft into the hillside. It was dug in the 1880s and there is a very minimal tip, the stone must have been used elsewhere, and it would seem no coal was found.
When the Gwyddon was forested, probably in the 1940s and '50s, a sawmill was set up here in wooden and corrugated iron sheds. It's now just an open space.

The Lost Farmsteads of the Nant Gwyddon Valley

Brook Bungalow - ST 2374 9594

A beautiful Autumn day and the Ramblers and the Twmbarlwm Society combine their forces for a full-frontal assault on the hidden depths of the Gwyddon Valley. First port-of-call is the site of Brook Bungalow, just above the site of the sawmill, and another tale of the macabre, the last elderly occupant hadn't been seen for a few days so when the police called in to check....

Craig Furnace - ST 2374 9594

A little further and we come across some mysterious stone walls, could be charcoal burners, could be aliens. Quickly followed by an equally mysterious hole-in-the-wall, didn't go back very far but what was it for? answers on a postcard to Rob Southall, please..

Trywyn - ST 2386 9647

Trywyn is next after a fair bit of uphill scrambling, just ruins but Rob had some great photos of a very attractive house.

Ysgubor Wen - ST 2440 9759

As we reach the moors we pass the scant foundations of Ysgubor Wen, believed to be quite ancient, then past a well-inscribed boundary stone, lunch, and down to Hafod Owen.

Hafod Owen - ST 2465 9690

A few outhouses, a pigsty and stable possibly, and a waterpipe remain, sad testimony to it's former occupants. Then the long trek down the valley and home.

Acknowledgments, sources and further reading.

'A historical tour around Mynyddislwyn Mountain' by Len Burland, Old Bakehouse Publications.
'Halls Tramroad' by Foster Frowin - A comprehensive five-part article appeared in 'Archive' magazine, Issues nos 55, 56, 59, 60 and 66 with loads of original photos and the 1840s tithe maps. Fascinating reading!!
A history of the Abercarn Ironworks by F. Frowen, L. Milsom and L. Burland, Gwent Local History Journal, Spring 1997, vol.82, p.16.
Thanks to :- Andrew Gadd, David Williams, Steve Davies, Rob Southall, Richard Terrell, Lin Bryant, OHIHS

All rights reserved - Phil Jenkins