Gilwern limekilns

button-theme-canalGilwern limekilns

On the west side of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal at Gilwern stands a row of limekilns, restored in 2018 as part of a project to conserve limekilns along the canal.

Lime was used as a fertiliser on farm fields, and for mortar and for protective coatings on buildings. Limestone from the hills above the canal was fed into the kilns with alternate layers of culm (poor or small coal). The mixture was burned and the quicklime removed from the bottom of the kilns.

The Gilwern kilns were positioned so that the lime, mostly in barrels, could be loaded directly into boats for transport in both directions along the canal. Connecting tramroads provided onward transport to many locations, as far north as Hay-on-Wye and Hereford.

gilwern_canal_bridgeThe area on that side of the canal was known as Llanelly Wharf, one of four wharves in what is now Gilwern. Llanelly Wharf was operated by the Brecknock Boat Company, the dominant boat operator along the Brecknock & Abergavenny Canal between Brecon and Pontymoile. The company was formed in 1797, when this part of the canal opened.

The wharf was served by a branch of the canal company's Clydach Railroad. Goods from Beaufort ironworks, near Ebbw Vale, were also transferred from tramroad wagons (known as trams) to boats here for a few years.

What is now Auckland House, near the limekilns, was built in 1802 on land leased by the Brecknock Boat Company as a barn, stables, workshops and accommodation for the partners. After the BBCo ceased in 1865 it was bought by Dr Thomas Pierce and converted into a house and surgery. It was named after Auckland, New Zealand, where he’d lived. The bridge south of the wharf is named Auckland Bridge.

Auckland Bridge, south of the wharf, is visible in the photo (courtesy of the MBACT archive) of a canal excursion c.1895 to 1900.

The navigable section of the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal is looked after by the charity Glandwr Cymru the Canal & River Trust in Wales.

With thanks to the archive of the Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canals Trust

Postcode: NP7 OEP    View Location Map

Canal & River Trust website – Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

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