Llanfoist wharf

button-theme-canalLlanfoist wharf

This peaceful spot on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal was once a bustling place where a tramroad carried goods to and from the wharf which is across the canal from the towpath. Today the wharf is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site covering the Blaenavon industrial landscape.

In the early 1820s, Thomas Hill, an ironmaster in Blaenavon – on the opposite side of the mountain known as the Blorenge – diverted his iron to Llanfoist via what is known as Hill's tramroad. The route opened in 1821 with rails 60cm (2ft) apart. It also served a forge at Garnddyrys, on the west side of the Blorenge. The animation below describes the route.

Previously iron from Blaenavon went south to Pontnewynydd (near Pontypool), and then by boat to Newport on the Monmouthshire Canal. The Brecknock & Abergavenny Canal finally joined the Monmouthshire Canal at Pontymoile in 1812. 

The B&A's tolls per ton or mile were cheaper than those of the Monmouthshire Canal, and those tolls applied for cargo which continued from Pontymoile to Newport. Loading the iron at Llanfoist wharf meant that Hill was saving money, even allowing for the greater distance.

Trams descended c.235 metres in three stages of an incline plane down to Llanfoist wharf and its warehouse. The extra weight of the descending goods hauled the empty or less heavily loaded wagons uphill on an adjacent track, by means of chains and wheels.

Opening of the railway from Blaenavon to Newport meant that the tramroad was derelict by c.1880. The earthworks of the upper inclines are still visible. To reach them, descend the steps from the towpath – a B&A boundary marker forms the fourth step down – to the road and go through the short tunnel under the canal to the incline. 

Hill's tramroad continued via another incline to Llanfoist village to allow transfer to the Llanvihangel tramroad, which ran from Govilon to Llanvihangel Crucorney and later to Hereford. It was 1.1m gauge (3ft 6in), which meant goods had to be transferred rather than the same trams continuing.

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 9NG    View Location Map

Canal & River Trust website – Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

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