LNWR BRYNMAWR — ABERSYCHAN & TALYWAIN (single line 8¾ miles)
(Pass) 18.12.1869 Brynmawr - Blaenavon;
1.5.1878 Blaenavon - Abersychan.
(Gds) 1.11.1869 Brynmawr - Blaenavon; 1877 Blaenavon - Abersychan
(Pass) 5.5.1941, (Gds) 23.6.1954 Brynmawr - Blaenavon;
3.5.1980 Blaenavon - Abersychan.
Brynmawr (opened 1862); Waenavon (opened 1871); Garn-yr-erw Halt (opened 1913); Blaenavon; Varteg r/n 1933 Varteg Halt; Abersychan & Talywain (opened 1878).
Blaenavon LNWR two-track shed (opened 1881, closed 1942).
In 1869 the LNWR opened a branch from Brynmawr (on its Abergavenny - Dowlais line) to Blaenavon and eight years later extended it south along the Cwm Afon to make an end on junction with the GWR at Abersychan & Talywain.
The LNW provided six trains between Brynmawr and Pontypool with half running through to Newport. Passenger services were withdrawn in 1941 with the line closing to all traffic in 1954. After closure it was used for wagon storage for several years and a two mile section from Brynmawr - Furnace Siding was in fact reopened by Derek Crouch Ltd between 1972-75.
1980: The Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway (P&BR) formed.
1983: P&BR started running trains along ¾ mile of track from Whistle Inn to Furnace Siding and at 1,300ft above sea level it claims to be the highest heritage line in Britain. It serves the Big Pit and nearby is the Blaenavon Ironworks World Heritage site.
2008: January Torfaen County Borough Council secured £526,000 funding from the Heads of the Valley programme towards the cost of the 1¼ mile extension southwards from Furnace Sidings to Blaenavon High Level.
2010: On May 29th the P&BR opened its 1¼ mile £700,000 extension from Furnace Sidings to Blaenavon High Level. Future plans include a further extension south to Varteg Road and eventually to Talywain. The railway’s other ambition to extend one mile north to Waenavon is not currently being pursued.
Big Pit Mining Museum
A preserved coal mine that was in use between 1880 - 1980. After examining the winding engine house, a working blacksmith's yard and the pithead baths visitors can descend 300ft by cage to view the old coal faces, workshops, stables and haulage engines.
Built in 1788, the ironworks were in their heyday in the 1820s and it was there in 1876 that Gilchrist Thomas solved how to separate phosphorus from iron. The works now stand as a ruin, although they are one of Europe's best preserved examples. The blast furnaces, casting houses, water balance lift and workers’ houses can all seen from a viewing platform.
Route when open
From Brynmawr (SO191115), on the Abergavenny - Dowlais line, the turned away east then SE climbing steadily at 1 in 40 for two miles to Waenavon where it reached an altitude of 1,400ft, at one time the highest station on any standard gauge railway in Britain. It then descended on similar grades to Blaenavon where there were long established ironworks and coal mines. From there it headed south down the west side of Cwm Afon for three miles before swinging west to Abersychan & Talywain station (SO260040).
The line is walkable from the Noble Square Industrial Estate in Brynmawr to the start of the Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway at Whistle Inn (SO230100). The next two miles are occupied by the the heritage railway but south of High Level station it has been converted into a cyclepath, part of NCN 46 which also continues along the GWR line to Pontypool.
Brynmawr demolished, Blaen-Afon Road now runs through the site; any trace of Waenavon? Garn-yr-erw Halt any trace? on the opposite side of Whistle Road is Whistle Inn platform on the heritage line. Blaenavon High Level rebuilt station now the southern terminus of the heritage line; Varteg Halt any trace? Abersychan & Talywain demolished but the LNWR goods shed is listed grade II.
Garndiffaith Viaduct nine arches over Ffrwd Valley at Talywain part of cycleway, listed grade II; details of other bridges intact/demolished required.
Blaenavon (SO251083) on south side of Blaenavon High Level station, demolished 1960s.
Further information can be found here.
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