Glamorganshire Canal route, Tongwynlais
The Glamorganshire Canal, built in the 1790s, formed the southern boundary of Tongwynlais village, where you now see the A470 dual carriageway.
A section of the canal which still has water begins at the south-eastern end of Iron Bridge Road. The road crossed over the canal where it now passes under the A470. There was a lock on the canal here, and a corn mill west of the towpath. Beyond it was Loch Field Cottage (still standing), built in the late 18th century for canal workers.
The old photo, courtesy of Cardiff Libraries, shows the canal a little further north, with Castell Coch and part of Tongwynlais. A cargo narrow boat faces upstream while children watch a photographer.
The canal was a worry for local parents. In 1899 Thomas Browning left his canal boat Oliver to recover the body of Annie Hayes, aged six, who had drowned while playing by the canal with a friend.
In 1887 Cardiff’s medical officer reported that 17 toilets drained into the canal in Tongwynlais, including two at the canal company’s cottages.
The scene in the photo changed when the Cardiff Railway was built alongside the canal. In 1898 the railway’s promoters had applied to close the canal from Tongwynlais northwards and lay tracks on top. They said the canal was little used and expensive to maintain safely. During the railway’s construction, a steam crane fell into the canal, killing operator George Henry Anderson.
The railway opened in 1909 to provide an alternative route from Pontypridd to Cardiff docks, avoiding the Taff Vale Railway. It crossed the canal below Railway Terrace (originally Canal Parade). Tongwynlais station was south of the canal bridge, accessed by an extension to Iron Bridge Road. The railway was unsuccessful but the section between Coryton and Heath survives.
The canal was mostly filled in during the 1940s. Here the former canal and railway routes formed a ready-made corridor through the narrow valley for the A470.
Postcode: CF15 7NJ View Location Map