Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway

The Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway (B&MR) was a railway company in Wales. It was originally intended to link the towns in its name. Finding its access to Merthyr difficult at first, it acquired the Rumney Railway, an old plateway, and this gave it access to Newport docks. This changed its emphasis from rural line to mineral artery.

It opened at the Brecon end to a point near Dowlais in 1863, and in 1865 it opened a disconnected section from Rhymney to Newport. In due course the company connected the two sections and reached Dowlais and Merthyr, but had to concede sharing a route with the powerful London and North Western Railway.

The B&MR was always short of money, and was notable for its prodigious gradients, but it survived until the grouping of 1923, when it became part of the Great Western Railway. Its network declined steeply after 1945, and passenger operation ceased in 1962. Goods and mineral operation also lost its market, and as of 2020, only a short stub to a quarry at Machen remains rail connected.


System map of the Brecon and Merthyr Railway in 1884

Brecon was an important regional centre in mediaeval times, due to its location at the confluence of the River Honddu and the River Usk. Its relatively remote location meant that transport was always an important consideration.

The difficult terrain southwards would require crossing the ridge of the Brecon Beacons into the high ground at the head of the South Wales Valleys, and the first turnpike connected eastward to Abergavenny and south-westward to Swansea.

The Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal, later part of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal, was opened to Brecon in 1800 continuing the alignment to the east.[1][page needed][2]

In 1816 the Hay Railway was opened; this was a horse-drawn plateway 24 miles long, connecting Brecon to Hay, and later Eardisley.[3][page needed]

Industry south of the Brecon Beacons was linked in to the canal when the Brinore Tramway (or Bryn Oer Tramway opened in 1815. It connected the industrial site of Brinore, near Trevil, north of Tredegar, to Talybont-on-Usk, on the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal.[4][page needed]

Brecon and Merthyr Railway ActEdit

In the 1859 session of Parliament, the Brecon and Merthyr Bill was considered. It proposed a railway from a junction with the Dowlais Railway of 1851 near its terminus at Dowlais, to Brecon near the head of the canal. The Dowlais Railway was built chiefly to serve the Dowlais iron company, so that the proposed B&M would provide an outlet, via the canal, for its products. It also connected Dowlais and Merthyr in difficult terrain—it included a rope worked incline—that might save expense for the B&MR in reaching Merthyr.[5][page needed][6]

During the progress of the Bill the Brecon to Talybont section was dropped, conceding the part of the route to another planned railway company; this failed to get authorised, but this was too late for the B&MR to reinstate the omitted section. The railway as authorised on 1 August 1859 was from Dowlais to Talybont.[7]

A railway further north got authorised: the Hereford, Hay and Brecon Railway. It had made arrangements with the larger Newport, Abergavenny and Hereford Railway to work it.

The Hay Railway was intent as this stage on selling its line, and the Hereford, Hay and Brecon Railway proposed to purchase it, simplifying the issue of land acquisition. After considerable negotiation, the HH&BR agreed to partition the Hay Railway, conceding part to the Mid Wales Railway and the southern section from Talyllyn to Brecon was granted to the B&M. These arrangements were ratified by the Hay Railway Act of 6 August 1860.[5][page needed][8][page needed][9]

Accordingly, relying on the confirmation of the agreement, the B&MR was able to get powers to extend from Talybont through Talyllyn to Brecon, by Act of 15 May 1860. A triangular junction would be formed at Talyllyn with the Mid Wales Railway. Mutual running powers arrangements were agreed.[5][page needed]


The first sod was turned on 18 January 1860; the contractors were David Davies and Thomas Savin, and a lease arrangement was concluded with them for ten years in which they guaranteed the proprietors 5% interest on capital.

The Beacon Tunnel (official railway name 'Torpantau Tunnel') was completed by 11 January 1862 and on 28 August 1862 a trial run for the directors was undertaken between Pant and Talyllyn. The section between Talyllyn and Brecon was much slower to construct, partly because it was still in use by the Hay Railway; Talyllyn tunnel needed to be opened out with that traffic in operation.

It was possible to run a locomotive through to Brecon on 1 January 1863, and on 12 February Captain Rich of the Board of Trade carried out an inspection for approval of passenger operation. There was still a delay, but some revenue goods train operation took place in April 1863.[5][page needed]


The entire line between Brecon and Pant, 19 miles of single line, opened on 1 May 1863.[7] First stations were Brecon (temporary station), Talyllyn (temporary station), Talybont, Dolygaer, and Pant. A horse omnibus connected for Merthyr; in due course the Dowlais Railway was to make the connection to the ironworks for mineral traffic.[5][page needed] The engineer for the line was Henry Conybeare, who described it as a good locomotive road throughout. Coming south, locomotives were going to have to ascend the Seven Mile Bank, making a 925 feet climb.[3][page needed]

Extending the networkEdit

While construction was in progress, the B&MR was busy getting Parliament to approve its plans for extension. In the 1861 session it obtained authority to build down the Bargoed Rhymney valley, but the Rhymney Railway was given similar powers and they were mutually exclusive. Eventually the powers were divided, the Rhymney Railway building up to Deri Junction, and the B&MR building down to that point from the north.

In 1862 the B&MR got powers to abandon the Dowlais Railway connection that had become superfluous, and to connect directly to the Taff Vale Railway at Merthyr.[5][page needed]

The Rumney RailwayEdit

Torpantau station in 1957

The Rumney Railway had been incorporated in 1825 and opened in 1826 as a horse operated plateway, running from the ironworks at Rhymney to Bassaleg, near Newport, connecting there with the Sirhowy Railway and giving access to Newport Docks. Some steam locomotive operation was undertaken after about 1854, and in 1861 Parliamentary powers were taken to modernise the line and adapt it for passenger operation. It is evident that the true objective was to sell the line to one or other more modern neighbouring company as a going concern. It was the Brecon and Merthyr Railway that acquired it for £90,000 under powers of 28 July 1863.[5][page needed][10]

The B&MR had got hold of an obsolescent railway but with it came access to Newport over the Monmouthshire Railway from Bassaleg. The B&MR now had to set about the modernisation of the line itself, including a considerable amount of easing of the sharp curves. Captain Rich, after two refusals, agreed to reopening for passenger operation following his inspection on 7 June 1865, and the line opened to passenger operation between Pengam and Newport Dock Street (Monmouthshire Railway) on 14 June 1865; the operation was extended up to Rhymney from 16 April 1866, and in 1867 coal traffic started running.[7]

The Rhymney station was about a mile down the valley from the Rhymney Railway's equivalent.[11][page needed]

Passenger stations on the B&MR section of this route were now Rhymney, New Tredegar, Bargoed, Pengam, Maesycwmmer, Bedwas, Machen, Church Road, Rhiwderin, and Bassaleg. This part of the B&MR was detached by ten miles from the section towards Brecon, running down the east side of the Rhymney River, opposite the Rhymney Railway itself on the west side.[5][page needed][11][page needed]

Financial dangerEdit

The company's trains were being worked by Thomas Savin and John Ward, who paid the proprietors 5% on their capital, but early in 1866 [or 1865[12]] the contractor failed. Suddenly the B&MR was unable to deal with its own financial commitments and it starting to miss debenture payments, and the Company went into administration. This meant that it was unable to complete the Merthyr branch, and the restrictive clauses in its Acts meant that it oriented from opening the line through to Newport.[3][page needed]

In 1868 and again in 1870 financial arrangements were made with creditors, which enabled the company to carry on; debentures were converted to debenture stock and the company was enabled to continue.[5][page needed]

Completing to Merthyr, Dowlais and NewportEdit

Finishing the line to Merthyr was the obvious priority, and Alexander Sutherland was commissioned to find a means to do so. The obstruction hitherto had been the objection of the Crawshay Estate to the line coming through the grounds of Cyfarthfa Castle. Sutherland redesigned the route further west avoiding the Estate. This was at the expense of much difficulty of engineering, and of operation later.[5][page needed]

The line was opened in part, from Pontsticill to Cefn, on 1 August 1867.[7] The new line joined the Vale of Neath Railway line at Rhydycar Junction, immediately south of Merthyr station, opening on 1 August 1868. The VoNR station at Merthyr was used.[3][page needed]

This now released the legal obstruction to the opening to Newport; the part of this from Pant to Dowlais Top had opened on 1 August 1867,[7] and from Dowlais Top to Pengam was opened on 1 September 1868.[7] Three trains ran daily from Brecon to Newport Dock Street.

This section from Dowlais to Pengam ran through the Bargoed Rhymney Valley. Both the B&MR and the Rhymney Railway had wished to build a line through this, but the defile near Bargoed made that physically impossible and at length a compromise was reached: the Rhymney Railway would build up from Bargoed to Deri Junction, and the B&MR would build down from Dowlais to Deri Junction. There would be a limited mutual exchange of running powers.

At Bargoed the Rhymney Railway and the B&MR trains exercising running powers were on the west side of the valley, and the B&MR from its Rhymney station was on the east side. A north-west to south-east diagonal connection was built as part of the work.[3][page needed][11][page needed]

The location of the stations at Dowlais was determined by the through lines on which they were sited, and in 1865 the B&MR had obtained powers to make a short branch to a central location in Dowlais. It opened from Pant on 23 June 1869. The Dowlais station, at Lloyd Street, was later (in 1924) renamed Dowlais Central.[5][page needed][3][page needed][7]

LNWR connectionsEdit

The London and North Western Railway was encroaching from the east by means of the Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway which it had acquired, and it was obvious that it sought to reach Dowlais and Merthyr. In an Act of 15 July 1867 it obtained authority to make junctions with the B&MR near Dowlais Top and near Dowlais (Central), where its new alignment would bring the two railways close together. The LNWR line was to pass Dowlais heading north, in tunnel under Pant station, curving west and south to join the B&MR line at Morlais Junction. The connections were made on 1 January 1873.

The connection at Dowlais Top was used for the exchange of goods and mineral traffic, and was removed about 1933. The connection near the B&MR central station at Dowlais was made by curving from northward to join the B&MR southward at Ivor Junction just outside the B&MR station; LNWR trains used the B&MR station from that time. On 4 May 1885 the LNWR opened a station at Dowlais High Street, somewhat to the east of Dowlais, and from that date transferred its passenger calls to that station.[5][page needed][3][page needed]

The goods traffic of the LNWR (and its successors) continued to be exchanged at Dowlais (Central) B&M station until 22 November 1954, from which date such traffic ran via Pontsticill Junction.

The LNWR still wanted good access to Merthyr and in 1874 promoted a Bill for a new line getting access to the town. The B&MR opposed this in Parliament, but a compromise was reached by which the B&MR's own Merthyr line would be made joint with the LNWR in consideration of the LNWR refunding half the original cost of construction of that line. This was agreed, but the LNWR had to build an expensive connecting line from a new junction, Penywern Junction, on its line to the B&MR Dowlais (Central) station, running northward in tunnel to a westward junction with the B&MR line at Morlais Junction.

The line took four years to construct, but the LNWR took formal joint ownership of the relevant part of the BMR line in 1875, ensuring that it retained access in the event of the B&MR negotiating with rivals. The LNWR line opened on 1 June 1879, when the LNWR trains were able to run to Merthyr High Street station.[5][page needed]

Hereford, Hay and Brecon RailwayEdit

East end of Brecon station in 1949

The Brecon and Merthyr Railway had opened its first main line between Brecon and Pant on 1 May 1863. Trains of the Hereford, Hay and Brecon Railway, worked by the Mid Wales Railway, started working in to Brecon from 19 September 1864

An east loop was built at Talyllyn, forming a triangular junction there, enabling goods trains from Merthyr to the north to run direct; this opened on 21 September 1864.

The original partitioning of the Hay Railway had been a negotiated compromise, and led to an arrangement that was less than ideal; the Hereford, Hay and Brecon Railway agreed to amalgamate with the Brecon and Merthyr Railway, and this was ratified by Act of 5 July 1865.[9]

This appeared to be satisfactory, but it emerged in 1867 that the preference shareholders had not been agreed by the preference shareholders, and the amalgamation was held to be void. An Act of 1868 confirmed the separation of the two companies once again and the HH&BR was reincorporated by Act of 26 July 1869. It needed a company to work its trains for it, and after a false start the Midland Railway performed this task, from 1 October 1869. The Midland Railway had a presence at Hereford using running powers, and had long sought an entry into South Wales.[3][page needed][8][page needed]

The working arrangement was converted into a lease (of the HH&BR by the Midland) from 1874 and acquired the Swansea Vale Railway in the same year. When it negotiated an arrangement to run its trains over the Neath and Brecon Railway from 1877, it had achieved its goal of reaching Swansea. This brought a considerable volume of additional traffic to the route, and proved lucrative for the Brecon and Merthyr, whose line formed part of the chain from Hereford to Swansea.[5][page needed][9]

Brecon arrangementsEdit

Brecon Free Street station, looking west towards Neath in 1962

The first Brecon and Merthyr Railway station at Brecon was at Watton; it was always intended as a temporary station, but the arrival of the HH&BR trains and Mid Wales Railway's own trains overloaded the accommodation significantly.

The Neath and Brecon Railway opened its line at Brecon from the west in 1867, but during its construction it became clear that its attitude to the B&MR was unfriendly. It was also desperately short of money, and opened its line to a separate temporary station at Free Street. A connection was made between the two stations, but it was not suitable for passenger operation.[5][page needed] Nevertheless, Barrie observes:

As late as July 1869… the Neath and Brecon Engineer, admitted to a House of Lords select committee that if any passengers for east of Brecon arrived by train at Mount Street their tickets were collected, they were put on the engine, and run forward on the high level line to a point opposite and above the Watton station. (There was also a loop line direct from the Free Street extension into Watton Yard, but the Neath & Brecon witnesses claimed that the B&M would not let them use it, but kept the points locked.[13]

By 1870 a contract was let to build a new station at Free Street, intended to be a Joint station for all the railway companies (although wholly owned by the B&MR), and it opened on 1 March 1871. Nonetheless the Neath and Brecon Railway continued to use its own station until 1874, when its passenger trains moved to Free Street, the former station being relegated to goods traffic. Watton had already adopted that role.[5][page needed]


The Old Rumney Railway had secured authorisation in its Act of 1861 for a line from Machen to Caerphilly, and after the acquisition of the Old Rumney by the B&MR this was constructed, opening in 1867.[7] It served mainly collieries and factories.

On 8 August 1878 the Pontypridd, Caerphilly and Newport Railway was incorporated. It was heavily sponsored by the Alexandra (Newport) Dock Company, which wished to bring the coal resources of the Rhondda and Cynon (Aberdare) valleys to Newport Docks. Traffic agreements were secured with the Taff Vale Railway to achieve the connection, as well as with the B&MR and the Rhymney Railway.

In 1882 the B&MR decided to double the line between Bassaleg, Machen and Abertysswg in anticipation of considerable extra business on the route.[5][page needed]

The Great Western Railway, by now owner of the Monmouthshire Railway system, was less cooperative. The PC&NR[note 1] was to use the B&MR from Machen to Bassaleg, but needed to pass over a mile or so of the Monmouthshire Western Valley line to reach Newport Docks, and the GWR did not make the facility available at first, on 7 July 1884. After a stand-off the use of the line was conceded.

In 1882 the Newport Docks company reconstituted itself as the Alexandra (Newport and South Wales) Docks and Railway and was clearly in the lead over the affairs of the PC&NR, and it obtained powers in 1883 to build an additional double track alongside the Western Valley line from Bassaleg. This opened in April 1886.

The approach to Machen on the B&MR Caerphilly branch was on a steeply graded single line, and working the heavy mineral traffic over it was inconvenient; the PC&NR obtained powers to build a second, nearly parallel single line on easier gradients: the Machen Loop. This was opened on 14 September 1891[7] an immediately transferred to B&M ownership. The new and old single lines were operated as a double track. Waterloo and Fountain Bridge platforms for the railmotor stopping trains, were on the separated single lines and accordingly had a service in one direction only respectively.[5][page needed]

Barry RailwayEdit

The Barry Railway was founded to provide an alternative port for the export of the coal and mineral resources of South Wales, following decades of dissatisfaction with the facilities at Cardiff and Newport, and with the railway connections to those places.

The first section of line opened in 1888 and in the following year coal was hauled from the Rhondda Valley, and the Company moved on to providing a connection from the Rhymney Railway at Penrhos, west of Caerphilly.

In 1898 it obtained powers to make another connection, this time with the B&MR between Bedwas and Maesycwmmer. This was a significant civil engineering undertaking, crossing the Rhymney Valley on a large structure known as Llanbradach viaduct.

The new line opened on 2 January 1905. The Barry Railway had running powers for mineral traffic in the upper part of the B&MR network in the Rhymney Valley; other traffic was hauled by the local company and exchanged at Duffryn Isaf.[5][page needed]


Most of the railways of Great Britain were formed into one or other of four new larger companies, in a process referred to as the "grouping", following the Railways Act 1921. The Brecon and Merthyr Railway was a subsidiary[note 2] of the new Great Western Railway; the change took effect on 1 July 1922.

There had, of necessity, been capital reconstructions in 1882 and 1902. In the twentieth century interest was paid on preference shares, and in 1918 – 1921 this was as high as 4%, but on preference shares only.[5][page needed]

At 31 December 1921, the B&MR had issued capital of £2.07 million; net income in 1921 of £66,577; dividend in 1921 on ordinary shares: nil; locomotives taken over by the GWR: 47; number of passenger carriages 90; number of freight wagons 640; employees 842. Single track mileage was 82miles-44chains en route mileage of 59miles-66 chains.[14][page needed]

From 1923Edit

Many of the ironworks of the Merthyr and Dowlais areas were declining steeply or indeed closing in this period, and the B&MR network's dependency on those industries made it extremely vulnerable. A traffic pooling arrangement for mineral traffic between the GWR and the London Midland and Scottish Railway was agreed in 1933, and this resulted in a switch for much traffic to more efficient routes, avoiding the long and difficult climb through the Brecon Beacons and Talyllyn, and this reduced the volume of traffic.

The hillside above New Tredegar had shown itself to be unstable resulting in temporary closure of the line in 1916,[7] and more serious slips took place in September 1928, April 1929 and April 1930. This resulted in the closure of the upper portion of the branch from 14 April 1930; the only working colliery on the affected section could equally well be served by the former Rhymney Railway branch.[5][page needed][11][page needed]

From 1948Edit

Under British Railways ownership after nationalisation, the decline in use of the railway continued, affecting all classes of traffic.

The passenger service between Dowlais Central (the former B&M terminus at Dowlais) and Pant was withdrawn from 28 June 1952. For a period workmen's trains continued but these were ended on 2 May 1960.

The Machen to Pontypridd passenger service, instituted but not worked by the PC&NR, was closed down on 15 September 1956.

The Merthyr to Pontsticill service was withdrawn from 13 November 1961 and the main line service from Newport to Brecon, and also the New Tredegar branch closed from 31 December 1962. On the same date, the services from Hereford and Moat Lane were also closed down, so that Brecon had no passenger train service.

There remained a Caerphilly – Machen – Newport unadvertised service for workmen as the only passenger operation on the B&MR network; that too closed on 1 July 1963.[5][page needed]

Goods and mineral traffic between Deri Junction and Pant was withdrawn on 5 August 1963, followed by that between Brecon and Merthyr, and also Pontsticill and Dowlais Central, on 4 May 1964. Brecon continued as a non-rail-connected coal depot until 9 November 1964.

Bedwas to Pengam closed completely on 31 December 1962. The Waterloo section of line, built to ease gradients and congestion approaching Machen, was closed on 20 July 1964, but the residual freight traffic was diverted through Radyr and the Caerphilly to Machen section closed from 20 November 1967.[5][page needed]

Ogilvie Colliery on the Deri line remained in use until 3 September 1978.[11][page needed]

By 1980 only one short section of 10.5 miles (16.9 km) survived, serving coal traffic to Bedwas Navigation Colliery, from Newport via Bassaleg and Nine Mile Point. When the Bedwas colliery closed, the section of the branch between Bedwas and Machen was also closed, in 1985. The section between Machen and Bassaleg Junction has experienced sporadic stone traffic from Hanson Aggregates' limestone quarry, east of Machen.[5][page needed]

1878 accidentEdit

The B&MR was subject to a number of accidents; the extreme gradients were often a cause. On 2 December 1878 a particularly tragic accident took place. A goods and mineral train was descending the seven-mile bank, and inadequate wagon brakes had been applied. The train got out of control, and derailed near Talybont, running down the embankment slope. The train consisted of 22 wagons of coal, three of goods, 11 empties, and a brake van; it was worked by three 0-6-0 saddle tank engines; the aggregate weight of the train was 397 tons. Two drivers and two firemen were killed.[7]

Rolling stockEdit

  • Locomotives: 35 Several of those were still running post-WWII
  • Coaching stock: 69
  • Goods vehicles (mainly coal): 629. By 1913, the line carried nearly 3.5 million long tons a year of coal and 227,000 long tons of other minerals.

Traffic managers and general managersEdit

Alfred Henshaw, 1863 – 1894. John Gall 1894 – 1903. Herbert R. Price 1903 – 1922.[5][page needed]

Locomotive SuperintendentsEdit

  • J. T. Simpson 1863–1869
  • T. Mason 1869–1873
  • C. Long 1873–1888
  • G. C. Owen 1888–1909
  • J.Dunbar 1909-1922<Locomotive Magazine 15 June 1909 page 106>


Brecon & Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway
Brecon (Watton)
Brecon Free Street
Groesffordd Halt
Talyllyn Tunnel
674 yd
616 m
Merthyr High Street
Talyllyn Junction
Maerdy Junction
Brandy Junction
Ynysfach Junction
Ynysfach Ironworks
Rhydycar Junction
Pentir Rhiw
Cyfarthfa Junction
Cwm Colliery
Llwyngelyn Junction
Heolgerrig Halt
Cyfarthfa Steelworks
Cefn Viaduct
Cefn Coed
667 yd
610 m
Pontsarn Halt
Pontsarn Viaduct
Morlais Junction
Pontsticill Junction
Dowlais Central
Morlais Tunnel
1040 yd
951 m
Pontsticill Junction
(High Level) Halt
Pant Junction
Brecon & Merthyr Rly
Brecon Mountain Rly
Dowlais Top
Dowlais Top Junction
Pantywaun Halt
Fochriw Colliery
Fochriw Junction
Ogilvie Village Halt
Rhymney Lower & Pontlottyn
Ogilvie Colliery
McLaren Colliery Halt
Darran and Deri
New Tredegar Colliery Platform
New Tredegar
Groes-Faen Colliery
Elliot Pit Halt
Groesfaen Colliery Platform
Cwmtysswg Colliery
Cwmsyfiog Halt
Bargoed North Junction
Cwmsyfiog and Brithdir
Aber Bargoed
Bargoed South Junction
Bargoed Colliery Halt
Aberbargoed Junction
Fleur-de-Lis Platform
Maesycwmmer Junction
to Pontypool
Gwernydomen Halt
Barry Railway
to Barry Junction
Fountain Bridge Halt
Waterloo Halt
Machen Quarry
Church Road
to Alexandra Docks

The Pontsarn viaduct is 455 feet (139 m) long and 92 feet (28 m) height, whilst the Cefn Coed (or Pontycapel) viaduct is 770 feet (230 m) long with a height of 115 feet (35 m).

Torpantau tunnel through the Beacons was 667 yards (610 m) long. At an elevation of 1,313 feet (400 m), it was the highest railway tunnel above sea level anywhere in Britain.[15] Exiting from south-east portal of the tunnel, the line descended for 7 miles (11 km) along a 1:38 (2.6%) gradient by the side of Glyn Collwyn and the (later: 1931) Talybont reservoir.[15]

Talyllyn tunnel was situated at the west end of the former Talyllyn station, about 5 miles (8.0 km) to the east of Brecon. It is 674 yards (616 m) long, and was originally built in 1816 for the Hay Railway.[5][page needed][3][page needed]

Location list, Brecon to DowlaisEdit

  • Brecon Mount Street (N&B station); opened 3 June 1867; closed 1872;
  • Brecon Free Street; opened 1 March 1871; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Watton (on spur); opened 23 April 1863; closed 1 March 1871;
  • Heol Lladron Junction; convergence of Watton spur;
  • Groesfford Halt; opened 8 September 1934; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Talyllyn Tunnel; 674 yards;
  • Talyllyn Brynderwen; opened 23 April 1863; closed 1 October 1869;
  • Talyllyn Junction; opened 1 October 1869; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Talyllyn East Junction;
  • Talybont; opened 19 March 1863; renamed Talybont-on-Usk 1898; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Pentir Rhiw; opened April 1897 for limited use; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Torpantau Tunnel; 667 yards;
  • Torpantau; opened 18 June 1863; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Dolygaer Halt; opened 18 March 1863; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Pontsticill Junction; opened June 1868; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Dowlais; opened 19 March 1863; renamed Pant(Glam) 1869; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Pantysgallog Halt; opened 1 October 1910; renamed Pantysgallog Halt High Level 1950; closed 2 May 1960;
  • Dowlais; opened 23 June 1869; renamed Dowlais Central 1924; closed 2 May 1960.

Merthyr loop lineEdit

  • Pontsticill Junction; above;
  • Pontsarn; opened June 1869; closed 13 November 1961;
  • Cefn; opened 1 August 1867; renamed Cefn Coed 1920; closed 13 November 1961;
  • Morlais Junction; convergence of LNWR line;
  • Heolgerrig Halt; opened 31 May 1937; closed 13 November 1961;
  • Cyfarthfa Junction with ironworks lines;
  • Ynysfach Junction;
  • Rhydycar Junction.

Bargoed Rhymney lineEdit

  • Pant; above;
  • Dowlais Top; opened 1 August 1867; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Pantywaun Halt; opened 22 December 1941; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Fochriw; opened September 1867; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Ogilvie Colliery Halt; miners' platform; opened 8 June 1925; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Ogilvie Village Halt; opened 16 May 1935; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Deri Junction; junction with Rhymney Railway.

Rhymney to NewportEdit

  • Rhymney
  • Abertysswg; opened 1 August 1905; closed 14 April 1930;
  • Mclaren Colliery Halt; in use in 1930; opening date uncertain; closed 14 April 1930;
  • New Tredegar colliery platform; in use in late 1920s, opening date uncertain; closed 14 April 1930;
  • White Rose; opened 16 April 1866; renamed New Tredegar & White Rose 1885; renamed New Tredegar & Tirphil 1906; renamed New Tredegar 1924; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Elliot Pit Halt; miners' platform; opened by September 1926; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Cwmsyfiog Halt; opened 5 July 1937; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Cwmsyfiog & Brithdir; opened 1 February 1908; renamed Cwmsyfiog 1924; closed 5 July 1937; reopened as Cwmsyfiog Colliery Halt for miners only 6 December 1937; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Aberbargoed; opened 16 April 1866; renamed Aberbargoed & Bargoed 1 September 1905; relocated 10 chains north 1 July 1924; relocated to original site and renamed Aberbargoed 30 September 1935; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Bargoed Colliery Halt; opened 1926; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Pengam; opened 14 June 1865; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Fleur de lis platform; opened 29 March 1926; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Maesycwmmer Junction; divergence to Taff Vale Extension line;
  • Maesycwmmer; opened 14 June 1865; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Llanbradach Colliery Halt; opened by September 1928; closed between 1948 and 1954, date uncertain;
  • Barry Junction; divergence of Barry Railway;
  • Bedwas; opened 14 June 1865; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Trethomas; opened 4 January 1915; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Machen; convergence of Caerphilly lines; opened 14 June 1865; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Church Road; opened 14 June 1865; closed 16 September 1957;
  • Rhiwderin; opened 14 June 1865; closed 1 March 1954;
  • Bassaleg; opened 14 June 1865; closed 31 December 1962;
  • Bassaleg Junction; convergence with Western Valley line.

Caerphilly to MachenEdit

  • Caerphilly; Rhymney Railway station;
  • Gwernydomen Halt; opened from October 1908; closed 17 September 1956;
  • [down and up lines separate];
  • Fountain Bridge Halt; down line only; opened from October 1908; closed 17 September 1956;
  • Waterloo Halt; up line only; opened October 1908; closed 17 September 1956;
  • White Hart Halt; opened 12 May 1947; closed 30 June 1952;
  • Machen; above.[16][page needed][17][page needed][18][page needed][11][page needed]

Brecon Mountain RailwayEdit

The Brecon Mountain Railway operates a narrow-gauge steam-hauled tourist line along the former Brecon and Merthyr Railway trackbed over a 5.5-mile (8.9 km) section of the B&MJR, from Pant through Pontsticill to Torpantau, a distance of five miles.[19]

Remaining vehiclesEdit

Only one B&MR coach has survived into the present day; the body (only) of coach No.111 stands in a private residence at Armscote. (2017)[20] A goods wagon, no.197 is currently (2017) at the Severn Valley Railway.[21]

National Cycle NetworkEdit

Some sections of the route have become part of the National Cycle Network. These routes are NCN 4 (Celtic Trail) between Machen and Trethomas, NCN 469 between Bargoed and Fochriw and NCN 8 (Taff Trail) between Torpantau and Talybont Reservoir. NCN 468 runs from Aberbargoed northwards.


  1. ^ There was another, unconnected PC&NR in the vicinity: the Pontypool, Caerleon and Newport Railway.
  2. ^ Only the larger lines qualified to be "constituents". The Rhymney Railway was not much greater in capitalisation, but its net income was nearly seven times that of the B&MR; the constituent companies were the GWR itself; the Alexandra (Newport & South Wales Docks and Railway, the Barry Railway, the Cambrian Railways, the Cardiff Railway, the Rhymney Railway and the Taff Vale Railway.


  1. ^ Hadfield, Charles (1967). The Canals of South Wales and the Border (second ed.). Newton Abbot: David and Charles. ISBN 0-7153-4027-1.
  2. ^ Barrie, D.S. (May 1960). "Railways to Brecon—1". Railway Magazine.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Barrie, D.S.M. (1994). A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: volume 12: South Wales. revised by Peter Baughan. Nairn: David St John Thomas. ISBN 0-946537-69-0.
  4. ^ Evans, Christopher J. (1912). Breconshire. Cambridge University Press.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Barrie, D.S.M. (1980) [1957]. The Brecon and Merthyr Railway. Trowbridge: The Oakwood Press. ISBN 0-85361-087-8.
  6. ^ "The Dowlais Railway". Railway Magazine. the Why and the Wherefore. October 1937.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Hopwood, H.L. (August 1918). "The Brecon and Merthyr Railway: Its History and Locomotives". Railway Magazine.
  8. ^ a b Christiansen, Rex (1981). A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain - volume 13 - Thames and Severn. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. ISBN 0-7153-8004-4.
  9. ^ a b c Clinker, C.R. (June 1960). "Railways to Brecon—2". Railway Magazine.
  10. ^ Thompson, Norman (April 1909). "The Brecon and Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway". Railway Magazine.
  11. ^ a b c d e f Mitchell, Vic; Smith, Keith (2009). Rhymney and New Tredegar Lines. Midhurst: Middleton Press. ISBN 978-1-906008-48-2.
  12. ^ Barrie 1980, p. 115.
  13. ^ Barrie 1980, p. 121.
  14. ^ Semmens, Peter (1990) [1985]. History of the Great Western Railway: 1: Consolidation, 1923 – 1929 (Studio Editions reprint ed.). London: George Allen and Unwin. ISBN 0-04385104-5.
  15. ^ a b Holland, Julian (2013). Exploring Britain's Lost Railways. London: Times books. p. 184. ISBN 9780007505418.
  16. ^ Quick, M.E. (2002). Railway Passenger Stations in England Scotland and Wales—A Chronology. The Railway and Canal Historical Society.
  17. ^ Cooke, R.A. (1997). Atlas of the Great Western Railway, 1947. Didcot: Wild Swan Publications Limited. ISBN 1-874103-38-0.
  18. ^ Cobb, Col M.H. (2003). The Railways of Great Britain – A Historical Atlas. Shepperton: Ian Allan Publishing Limited. ISBN 07110-3003-0.
  19. ^ "Home". Brecon Mountain Railway. Archived from the original on 29 December 2005.
  20. ^ "Brecon & Merthyr 111 Five Compartment". Vintage Carriages Trust.
  21. ^ "B&MR 197 Goods Wagon built 1902". Vintage Carriages Trust.

Further readingEdit

  • A Brief History of Merthyr Tydfil, by Joseph Gross. Starling Press, 1980
  • The Early History of the Old South Wales Iron Works, John Lloyd, 1906

External linksEdit