Old ironworks railway bridge, Cwmbrân
Near here the Monmouthshire Canal is crossed by a long bridge, installed so that goods trains could access the ironworks west of the canal (where you now see the retail park). You can read more about the works on this page.
There was already a stone bridge over the canal here when the rail connection was added. The railway track crossed the new bridge’s long rectangular deck obliquely, from north-east to south-west. The photo of the deck was taken from under the stone bridge before the towpath became inaccessible.
Trains for the works would arrive on the Monmouthshire Railway’s Eastern Valleys line (Newport to Blaenavon). After crossing the canal they continued on a long siding, known as a headshunt, on the west bank of the canal south of here. From there the wagons would be moved northwards, either into the works or along a “mineral railway” which ran alongside Colomendy Road (now Greenforge Way), immediately west of the ironworks.
The lower picture shows the view north from here, with railway trucks and the ironworks on the left. The bridge in the distance is where a newer bridge now carries the road into the retail park. On the far right is a signal box facing the Eastern Valleys line. The signaller’s tasks included authorising train movements across the canal bridge.
The complex layout of industrial facilities and railways made this area hazardous. In 1883 ironworks employee John Reardon was crushed by a truck while he stood by the door of the “counting house”. He died at home soon after. Young employee Harold Gait, 15, of Ventnor Road was killed as he left work in 1900. A goods train stood across the level crossing he needed to use. He clambered under the trucks but they started to move before he emerged on the other side.
As Cwmbrân new town developed in the 1960s and later, the route of the Eastern Valleys line provided a ready-made corridor for the A4051 road. The derelict canal wasn’t regarded as a useful asset, and the roundabout south of here was built over it.
With thanks to the archive of the Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canals Trust for the images
Postcode: NP44 3PB View Location Map