Lock keeper’s cottage, Forge Hammer, Cwmbrân


The house on the north side of Greenhill Road was originally the lock keeper’s cottage. The cottage stood at the top of a flight of four locks on the Monmouthshire Canal, constructed in the 1790s.

South of Greenhill Road were weirs and balancing ponds, to handle surges of water as the locks were emptied and filled. The locks enabled working boats to move between the upper section of canal and the lower one, which passed the Patent Nut & Bolt works (now the site of Cwmbrân Retail Park).

Old photo of locks at Forge Hammer, CwmbranThe upper photo shows the view down the locks, with the works beyond. The lower photo shows the disused upper two locks before they were filled in, with the cottage above.

A lock-keeper’s job usually included opening and closing lock gates and sluices for passing boats and ensuring the equipment was kept in good order. Other tasks could include preventing flooding during or after heavy rain, and conserving canal water in droughts.

Across the canal from the cottage was the New Bridge End Inn, so named because there was already a Bridge End Inn by the canal in Pontrhydyrun (further north). The latter is still known as the Old Bridge End Inn.

Photo of Forge Hammer locks before infillingThe New Bridge End “beerhouse” was leased for 99 years from February 1849, with ground rent payable twice a year. The leasehold was auctioned in 1882, after the death of licensee Rachel Davies. The property featured a “grass plot” in front and large garden behind, and stables for horses. It benefited from being “in a growing neighbourhood” and its proximity to the canal and bolt works.

In 1890 drinker Denis Buckley was prosecuted for insulting the New Bridge End’s landlady. He had arrived along the canal bank “in a state of drink” and became abusive when refused entry. Having sobered up, he “humbly begged pardon” but he already had four previous convictions and was ordered to pay a 15-shilling fine or spend 10 days in jail.

The pub (often known as the Bottom Bridge Inn) closed in 2018, and in 2021 planning permission was given for new houses on its site.

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

Postcode: NP44 3DG    View Location Map

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