Ochram Turn and aqueduct, near Llanellen

button-theme-canalbutton-theme-crimeOchram Turn and aqueduct, near Llanellen

Near the moorings at Roberts Farm, the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal swings eastwards to cross a small valley in a horseshoe bend – the Ochram Turn – before continuing southwards. It crosses Nant Ochram on an aqueduct.

The name was recorded as Ogran in 1348 (in reference to a mill powered by the stream) and in 1590-91. It was later written as Ogram (1621), Ochran (1836) and Ochram (1882). The name is probably related to an uncommon personal name, Ogran. It has been suggested that the name could contain a conjectural Old Welsh word related to an Old Breton word (arocrion) meaning “sharp”. That might describe a river which cuts through the landscape.

North of the moorings, near Bridge 88, stands a house with a curious mound in its grounds. It’s thought the mound was the site of an iron foundry in the 17th century and may have been used for limekilns later.

A tramroad was built around the same time as this section of the canal (which opened in 1812) to bring limestone from a quarry about 3km to the west. Lime was produced in limekilns at many locations along the canal, and boats distributed it for use as agricultural fertilizer and for buildings.

According to a farmer at Roberts Farm in the late 20th century, the farm was visited on 26 October 1921 by former soldier William Sullivan, who walked away when he saw one of the farm’s men on the premises. Sullivan, aged 42, went to nearby Lapstone Cottage, where Margaret Thomas, 48, was alone. Her husband had gone to his work in a quarry. Sullivan murdered her and stole some of her husband’s clothing. In March 1922 he was hanged at Usk prison – the last person to be executed there.

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 Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canals Trust, and to Richard Morgan of the Welsh Place-Name Society for place-name information

Canal & River Trust website – Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal

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