Pwll Du

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Pwll Du (meaning a black or dark pool or pit) was a village in Monmouthshire, Wales. It was declared a slum in 1960 and demolished in 1963. The main employment was provided by nearby limestone quarries and by the iron works in Blaenavon. The Pwll Du Tunnel from Blaenavon, once the longest horse-powered tramway in Britain, ended near the village. A pub and the former Welfare Hall, now a school's outdoor pursuits centre, are all that are left standing.

Pwll Du
Old mine workings at Pwll-du (geograph 1676153).jpg
Old mine workings at Pwll-du
Pwll Du is located in Monmouthshire
Pwll Du
Pwll Du
Location within Monmouthshire
OS grid referenceSO295145
Principal area
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Historic county
FireSouth Wales
List of places
51°47′49.3″N 3°5′40.82″W / 51.797028°N 3.0946722°W / 51.797028; -3.0946722Coordinates: 51°47′49.3″N 3°5′40.82″W / 51.797028°N 3.0946722°W / 51.797028; -3.0946722


Pwll Du was established in the 1820s.[1] There were two rows of terrace houses, one with 14 houses and the other with 28.[1] At one time Pwll Du had two pubs, two chapels, a school and a shop.[2] The Prince of Wales pub spanned the border between Monmouthshire and Brecknockshire. The two counties had different alcohol licensing laws, and it is said that patrons of the pub would move from one county to the other so they could continue to drink legally.[3]

The 300 residents were miners, quarrymen, ironworkers and their families. Employment declined from the 1930s and people began to move out. In 1960 the village was declared a slum.[2] The mines had closed. The houses were dilapidated and had neither running water nor sewerage. The houses were demolished in 1963 after the remaining residents had been moved, most of them to Govilon, a village further down the hill.[4] The Welfare Hall was built in the 1940s, funded by a levy on the villagers. It was not torn down and is now a publicly owned outdoor pursuits centre. The Lamb and Fox pub also survived.[3]

Alexander Cordell wrote several novels about families living and working in this area. One of the most important caves in Britain, the Ogof Draenen, lies under the area.[1]

Tramroads and quarryEdit

The Pwll Du Tunnel, the longest horse-drawn tram tunnel in Britain, used to terminate near the village.[5] It connected the Blaenavon Ironworks to limestone quarries at Pwll-Du and Tyla.[6] The horse-drawn railway through the tunnel was in operation by 1817. Limestone was taken from the quarry up to the railway by a water-balance lift, using water from a reservoir above.[7]

Hill's Tramroad ran for 3 miles (4.8 km) north east from Pwll Du round the Blorenge hill to Llanfoist Incline, where the drams were sent down to the canal and railway.[8] The tramroad carried cast iron brought through the tunnel from the Blaenavon Ironworks to the Garnddyrys Forge, and wrought iron from the Forge to Llanfoist.[9] After about 1850 cast iron from Blaenavon was carried over the Dyne Steel Incline and then down Hill's Tramroad.[10] In 1860 the Garnddyrys works were closed, the forge was relocated to Forgeside, Blaenavon, and the northern branch of the tunnel at Pwll Du was closed.[11] The limestone quarries closed after the General Strike of 1926.[11]



  • Background: Pwll Du, Pwll Du Cave Management Group, retrieved 13 April 2016
  • Brockway, Derek; Carey, Julian (23 November 2006), Weatherman Walking, Y Lolfa, ISBN 978-0-86243-917-0, retrieved 13 April 2016
  • Browne, David M.; Hughes, Stephen (2003), The Archaeology of the Welsh Uplands, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, ISBN 978-1-871184-26-6, retrieved 13 April 2016
  • "Dyne Steel's Incline, Blaenavon", Coflein, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, retrieved 13 April 2016
  • Gardener, Clive (2001), "The Tunnel History & Operation", Ghosts of Pwll Du, retrieved 12 April 2016
  • "Hill's Tramroad", Cofflein, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, retrieved 13 April 2016
  • Newman, John (1 March 2000), Gwent/Monmouthshire, Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0-300-09630-9, retrieved 13 April 2016
  • Remember Pwlldu? The lost village of the Valleys, ITV, 20 March 2015, retrieved 13 April 2016
  • "The Hamlet of Pwlldu", Govilon History, retrieved 13 April 2016
  • "Thomas Hill's Tram Road" (PDF), Visit Blaenavon, retrieved 12 April 2016