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The Taff Vale Railway (TVR) was a standard gauge railway in South Wales, built to serve the iron and coal industries around Merthyr Tydfil, and to connect them with docks in Cardiff. It was opened in stages in 1840 and 1841.

Taff Vale Railway
21 June 1836Act of Incorporation
9 October 1840Opened Cardiff to Navigation House (Abercynon)
12 April 1841Opened Navigation House to Merthyr Tydfil
1865Penarth Dock opened, TVR took out a 999 year lease
1888Competition from Barry Railway
1900Strike led to Taff Vale case
1922Became constituent company of the GWR
Railways Worked/Leased
1847Aberdare Railway
1862Penarth Harbour & Dock Railway
1863Llantrisant & TV Railway
1889Cowbridge & Aberthaw Railway
Successor organisation
1923Great Western Railway
Key locations
HeadquartersQueen Street, Cardiff
WorkshopsWest Yard, Butetown
Major stationsCardiff Bute Road
Cardiff Queen St
Route mileage[1]
1921124 miles (200 km)

In the railway's first years, the coal mining industries expanded considerably, and the Taff Vale Railway soon opened branches in the Rhondda valleys and the Cynon Valley, and the conveyance of coal for export and for transport away from South Wales began to dominate. The docks in Cardiff and the approach railway became extremely congested, and alternatives were sought, and competing railway companies were encouraged to enter the trade.

Further branch lines were built, and the Company used "motor cars" (steam railway passenger coaches) from 1903 to encourage local passenger travel.

From 1923 the Taff Vale Railway was a constituent of the new Great Western Railway at the "Grouping" of the railways, imposing its own character on the larger organisation. The decline in the coal and iron industries took its toll on the mainstay of the network, but passenger trains operate at the present day on most of the main line sections,


Before the Taff Vale RailwayEdit


Coal mining and iron smelting had been carried out on a small scale in South Wales down to the eighteenth century; it was encouraged by the plentiful availability of coal, at first at a shallow depth; timber (for pit props, and for charcoal); and limestone (for fluxing). The coal was primarily used in iron production, and it was only gradually that surplus coal began to be used for power (in industrial stationary steam engines) and for domestic use.

In time coke replaced charcoal in the smelting process. The availability of the raw materials at the heads of the South Wales valleys led to a number of ironworks being founded there between 1750 and 1800; these included the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, Plymouth Ironworks, and Dowlais Ironworks works in the Merthyr Tydfil area.[2]

A major difficulty was transport; conveying the finished product away to market was effected by coastal shipping, but the primitive road network made reaching the seaboard expensive and difficult; and the limestone, plentiful as it was, was located some distance north of the location of the ironworks.

In 1767 Anthony Bacon of Cyfarthfa persuaded his fellow ironmasters to join in a scheme to build a trunk roadway from Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff. He used mule-trains.[3]


A solution to the difficulty of local transport around the area of the ironworks was the tramroad. Wooden railways had been extensively used elsewhere, but seem not to have been much used in South Wales. The local tramroads were almost all short distance plateways (in which the rails are L-shaped plates, carrying wagons with plain wheels), and in many cases were simple extensions of plateways used underground in mines.[4]


Canals were built down some of the valleys, to bring the iron down to the coast for shipping elsewhere. The Glamorganshire Canal was opened in 1794; it ran from Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff, a distance of 25 miles. Local mine owners (within four miles of the canal) were authorised to build tramroads to the canal. At least 400 miles of tramroad was built under this and similar arrangements before the coming of modern railways.[3][2] 200,000 tons of coal were brought down by the canal in 1839 to the dock that became Bute West Dock.[2]

The Penydarren engineEdit

In 1802 the Merthyr Tramroad was opened, connecting the Dowlais and other ironworks with the Glamorganshire Canal. Richard Trevithick was employed at Penydarren Ironworks, served by the tramroad, and he built a steam locomotive engine. In 1804 a demonstration run took place in which ten tons of iron and 70 persons were transported nine miles. This was the first use of a steam locomotive engine in the world.[note 1] However many of the cast iron tramplates were broken due to the weight of the engine.[5]

A railway proposedEdit

The Taff Vale Railway

For the first decades of the nineteenth century, the transport situation for Merthyr and the surrounding area changed relatively little; the Glamorganshire Canal prospered, but became overwhelmed by the volume of trade. Tramways continued with horse haulage and plateway track. Mule trains carried iron down the turnpike road.

Edge railways began to be made elsewhere in the country; the Stockton and Darlington Railway of 1825[6] and the Liverpool and Manchester Railway of 1830[7] showed what current technology was capable of.

Taff Vale Railway plannedEdit

Early in 1835 Anthony Hill, owner of the Plymouth Iron Works at Merthyr, asked the engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, a personal friend, to estimate the cost of building a railway from Merthyr to Bute Docks in Cardiff. Brunel's estimate was £190,649. Local industrialists held a meeting, chaired by John Josiah Guest, MP for Merthyr, at the Castle Inn there.[8]

In fact Brunel soon (in 1836) revised his estimate upwards, to £286,031, to accommodate improved gradients, mineral branches and shipping staithes.[9]

Act of ParliamentEdit

The promoters agreed to go forward with a Parliamentary Bill in the 1836 session. The Glamorganshire Canal opposed the Bill, but it was passed, and obtained the Royal Assent on 21 June 1836. The Taff Vale Railway was incorporated with capital of £300,000. The directors were Josiah Guest (who became its first chairman), Walter Coffin, Edward Lee, Thomas Guest, Thomas Guppy, Thomas Powell, Christopher James, Thomas Carlisle, Henry Rudhall, William Wait, William Watson, and Peter Maze.

The act authorised a railway from Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff, with several branches: to connect with the tramroad to Dowlais and other ironworks nearby; to collieries at Llancaiach; to the tramroad serving Dinas collieries (in the Rhondda); and to Cogan Pill. Company profits were limited to 7%; this could be augmented to 9% if the tolls for use of the line were substantially reduced. Independent carriers as well as the Company itself were potentially able to use the line. The Act also limited the speed of the trains on the line to 12 mph (19 km/h), with stiff penalties for any speeding. (These two clauses were repealed by Act of 1840.) Locomotive operation and the carriage of passengers were permitted by the Act of 1836.[8]

The Merthyr terminus was to be on an open space south of the town, between the River Taff and the Cardiff Road. The Cardiff terminal was to be at or near the Ship Canal which the Marquis of Bute proposed to build. This became Bute West Dock; he had obtained powers to build it in 1830 but had held off from actually doing so.[8]

Isambard Kingdom Brunel, as the engineer for the line, designed it as a standard gauge line. He told the directors,

As regards the gauge or width of the rails, I see no reason in our case for deviating materially from the ordinary width of 4' 8½". The general gradients, the inclined planes, and still more the nature and the immediate extent of the peculiar class of traffic to which the line must always be devoted, not only render high speeds unnecessary, but must almost prevent their being attempted, while the same causes operate to diminish any advantage that may be gained in reducing friction by increased diameter of carriage wheels.[note 2] The curves also which the nature of the ground render unavoidable would be unfit for a wider gauge…[10]

Construction and opening of the first main lineEdit

The construction of the line posed no great engineering challenges due to its course following the valley of the River Taff. The line was ​24 14 miles in length. At Quaker's Yard there was a sudden steep change of ground level, and Brunel used 50 hp stationary winding engines; the inclined section was half a mile in length with gradients of 1 in 19 and 1 in 22. Locomotives did not ascend the incline. There was a 1 in 13 gradient on the Pwllyrhebog branch, near Tonypandy; it too was rope worked with special locomotives. Inevitably there were some stiff gradients elsewhere. There were two stone viaducts on the route: the first, at Pontypridd, crosses the River Rhondda, and the second bridges the Taff valley between Goetre Coed and Quaker's Yard.[8]

As well as the avoiding the use of the broad gauge, Brunel adopted a different form of track for the line: "parallel rails" weighing 55 lbs per yard, fixed in chairs with compressed wooden keys. The chairs were fixed to transverse sleepers by screws inserted prior to laying, "ensuring accuracy of gauge".[11]

A ceremonial opening of the line between Cardiff and Navigation House (Abercynon) took place on 8 October 1840,[8][2] when the Directors and Shareholders travelled on the line; the full public opening of that section was on 9 October 1840. On 20 April 1841 the line was inspected by Sir Frederick Smith for the Board of Trade, and on 21 April 1841 the main line was opened throughout to Merthyr.[note 3] Passenger stations were at Cardiff, Llandaff, Pentyrch (later Radyr), Taff's Well, Newbridge (later Pontypridd), Navigation House, Troedyrhiw and Merthyr. There were two passenger trains each way daily, seven days a week. The line was single throughout with passing places at the stations. On double track sections and at crossing loops, right-hand running was employed for several years.[8][2][12]

Taff Vale Railway Logo on preserved loco No. 85

Early branchesEdit

A mineral branch from Pontypridd to Dinas (Rhondda) opened in June 1841.

The Llancaiach Branch was authorised in the original Act for the TVR. It opened on 25 November 1841 for mineral traffic only, from Stormstown south of Abercynon to three adjacent collieries at Llancaiach. There was a self-acting rope worked incline 600 yards long on a 1 in 8 gradient. Use of the line was disappointing, traders finding that the charges on the canal were substantially lower.[12]

The company hesitated to build the authorised branch to the tramroad to Dowlais, and the clause in the Act enabled the Dowlais Iron Company to take over the construction and the branch, which they did.[8][2]

First years of operationEdit

The line was open between Merthyr and Cardiff, but almost immediately thought was given to improving the capacity of the main line, and of serving the coal production of adjacent valleys.


The line was originally single, except for the Quaker's Yard and Llancaiach inclines, which were double; Cardiff to Taff's Well was doubled in 1846, and through to Navigation House in 1847. The doubling was completed to Merthyr in 1862.[2]

Extending to AberdareEdit

The original purpose of the Taff Vale Railway had been deeply connected with the ironworks of Merthyr. In the years immediately following the railway's authorisation, the rich seams of high quality coal in the Aberdare area came into prominence, and began to outshine the Merthyr trade. Sixteen steam coal pits were sunk there between 1840 and 1853. Those collieries required transport to the sea, and the proprietors of the Taff Vale Railway responded by sponsoring the Aberdare Railway, a nominal independent company.

The Aberdare Railway was incorporated on 31 July 1845 to make a ​7 12 mile branch from Navigation House to Aberdare. It was worked by the Taff Vale from the outset and leased to it from 1 January 1847. It opened for passenger and goods and mineral traffic on 6 August 1846.[13] Navigation House station was renamed Aberdare Junction on the opening of the branch. There was a 49 chain branch off the Aberdare line from Cwmbach to Abernant colliery, also opened in 1846; it crossed the River Cynon to get access.[8][2]

Left hand runningEdit

In 1847 the Newport, Abergavenny and Hereford Railway obtained powers to build its Taff Vale Extension Railway westwards from Pontypool Quaker's Yard. to connect the TVR. This would be the first connection with the rest of the narrow (standard) gauge railway network; the TVR reviewed its policy of right-hand running and decided to change to left-hand running in preparation for the connection.[14]

Taff Vale Extension RailwayEdit

The Newport, Abergavenny and Hereford Railway reached Quaker's Yard on 11 January 1858, and made a connection with the TVR there. This gave a route for minerals from the TVR network to reach much further afield, but reduced the haul length on the TVR system.[15] The Taff Vale Extension Railway was later extended to Middle Duffryn, near Aberdare, opening in April 1864.[note 4] The extension crossed the Llancaiach colliery sections of the TVR on the level, and Llancaiach coal was transported via Quakers Yard on the TVER in preference to using the Llancaiach line inclined plane.[12]

The coalfield around Aberdare was proving to have abundant resources of high quality coal, and the Taff Vale Extension line was able to take the output direct to London (via Hereford—the South Wales Main Line was still broad gauge) and to Birkenhead and Southampton, where bunkering of sea-going ships was an important market.[16]


The Rhondda valleys too began to be the source of excellent coal, and that trade started to exceed that of Merthyr. The branch line from Newbridge (Pontypridd) to the tramroad leading to the collieries called Dinas had been opened in 1841, and this stimulated interest in mining in the valley.

Spurred by the threat of a possible broad gauge line from Ely, the TVR obtained authorisation on 26 August 1846 for the Rhondda Fawr Valley Extension, in time reaching what is now Treherbert, opening to there on 7 August 1856. Passenger services were not started until 7 January 1863.[17][2]

In 1849 the Taff Vale offered a £500 premium for proving the existence of deep-seam coal in the Treherbert area. At the same time a 77 chain extension from Porth to Ynyshir was opened for mineral traffic; that stub was extended to Ferndale in 1856 and later to Maerdy, which at 900 feet above sea level was the most elevated location on the Taff Vale system.[8]

In 1854 the Eirw Branch was opened; under a mile long it left the Rhondda line at Trehafod to serve nearby collieries.

In 1857 the TVR board authorised the doubling of the Rhondda Fawr as far as Porth; by February 1858 eight collieries were sending their coal down the extension of the Rhondda branch.[17]

In the subsidiary Rhondda valley, the Rhondda Fach, the line was opened from Porth to Ferndale in the summer of 1876, and to Maerdy not until 1889.[8]


The Pwllyrhebog branch (as it became known) was authorised in 1857 to reach into Cwm Clydach from Tonypandy. Its actual construction was much delayed, a contract being let in December 1861; it was opened early in 1863.

It climbed away from the Rhondda very steeply, on a 1 in 13 gradient for ​34 mile and then on to Blaenclydach.

At first the Pwllyrhebog incline was worked on the balanced load system, and the TVR refused to install a stationary engine, although increasing volumes of output were putting a strain on the capacity of the system.

At this stage the Pwllyrhebog branch served two collieries, Cwm Clydach and Blaen Clydach, but in 1871 Thomas, Riches & Co sank an important new pit further up the Clydach Valley at Clydach Vale. In November 1871 the TVR agreed to extend the Pwllyrhebog branch to the new pit; in fact the colliery company built the line and transferred it when completed to the TVR. The Company also undertook to send all their traffic out via the TVR.

The new pit was at a much higher altitude even than the previous connections, and a zigzag arrangement immediately above the Pwllyrhebog incline was necessary to gain further height.[note 5]

An Act of 13 July 1899 formalised the ownership.

Writing in 1951, Casserley refers to a later time when a stationary engine had been installed:

The incline was worked on the counterbalance system, but there were two separate ropes for the ascending and descending trains, in contrast to the endless loop rope more commonly used in this situation.[18]

The winding engine worked at a pressure of 25 lb. per sq. in., and the speed on the incline was about 5 m.p.h. The Taff Vale Railway used three 0-6-0 tank engines specially designed for the incline, acquired from Kitsons in 1884. They were had taper boilers to ensure that the firebox crown was covered when on the gradient; Casserley speculates that they probably were the first engines anywhere with taper boilers. The TVR gave them nos. 141 to 143; after 1923 they became GWR nos. 792 to 794. and were nos. 193 to 195 in British Railways days. Under the GWR a spare engine was kept as a standby; it was a standard pannier tank, No. 7722. Casserley does not explain how the firebox crown was kept covered in the case of this locomotive.[18]

In 1889 the line was extended privately to Clydach Colliery, making a little over two miles in all; the private extension was acquired by the TVR in 1896.[8]


In 1867 a Bill was presented for a railway from Treherbert to Hirwain (Hirwaun from 1926). The Rhondda Valley and Hirwain Railway was authorised by Act of 12 August 1867. It was nominally independent. It opened a short section from immediately north-west of Treherbert to Blaenrhondda, with a short spur to Blaencwm Colliery, in June 1878 for mineral traffic only. It abandoned its ambition to cross the 1,561 feet pass to Hirwain, and leased its line to the Taff Vale Railway from 1878: on 26 August 1889 it was absorbed by the Taff Vale.[8][2]

Widening the main lineEdit

An act passed in 1857 gave the railway authority for a number of improvements over the coming years. The line was doubled throughout from 1858 to 1862, and later quadrupled between Pontypridd and Cardiff to accommodate the growth in traffic. New viaducts were built alongside the existing structures at Pontypridd and Quaker's Yard to carry the second line. In 1864 work started on bypassing the incline with a gentler bank (but still steep and 1 in 40). This required significant earthworks, and inclement weather meant that it was not completed until August 1867. Top of Incline station had already closed in 1858, replaced with a new station at Quaker's Yard. Pontypridd station was greatly extended during the 1860s.[8]

Cardiff docks and PenarthEdit

The Cogan Pill branch authorised in the original Act was deferred, chiefly due to considerable opposition by the Marquis of Bute. Instead the Company was coerced into accepting a long lease of Bute West Dock; in 1848 a branch, known as the East Branch, was opened to connect to it. The lease was expensive and not entirely convenient. The Taff Vale was further put out when the rival Rhymney Railway was given access to the east side of the East Dock on considerably more favourable terms. This dock was commissioned in stages between 1855 and 1859, and the Taff Vale was excluded from using it, except as a sub-tenant of the Rhymney. From 1866 the Taff Vale was permitted access to the East Dock, but it had to run over the Rhymney Railway from Crockherbtown Junction, just north of the present-day Queen Street station, to reach it, paying the Rhymney for the privilege. Moreover, congestion, for shipping and for railways, in the Bute Docks was becoming an increasing problem.

These dissatisfactions led to the company sponsoring the Ely Tidal Harbour and Railway, which was authorised by Parliament on 21 July 1856. This was to construct a tidal harbour at Penarth, south-west of Cardiff, and an approach railway from Radyr on the Taff Vale line. The route was modified by an Act the following year, on 27 July 1857, and the name of the railway changed to the Penarth Harbour, Dock and Railway. The railway leading to Tidal Harbour east of Cardiff, was just over 6 miles long, was opened in August 1859, but the dock took much longer to complete: it was ready in 1865.[8][2]

The Penarth scheme experienced determined hostility from the Bute docks interest, and there was protracted litigation over the validity of the powers; although the final outcome was in favour of the Taff Vale Railway, the House of Lords decision bound it to charge shipping rates no lower than the Cardiff rates. A major extension was later made, opening in 1884.

The opening of the Penarth Docks proved a huge benefit to the Taff Vale Railway, not only in bringing in direct revenue, but in easing congestion on the main line as mineral trains were diverted from Radyr. Enormous volumes were moved through the docks: 2.8 million tons in 1885. The Penarth Harbour, Dock and Railway was leased to the Taff Vale, although the owning company retained its independent existence until 1922.[8]

Llantrisant linesEdit

In 1857 a competitive threat emerged when the Ely Valley Railway was incorporated, to build a broad gauge line from Llantrisant, on the South Wales Railway between Cardiff and Bridgend, towards the Rhondda valley. It opened in August 1860 as far as Tonyrefail, and in 1862 it was extended to Penygraig, close to the Taff Vale Railway at Tonypandy. It was leased to the Great Western Railway from 1 January 1861; the GWR wanted it as a source for locomotive coal, and the lease was independent of the local broad gauge railway, the South Wales Railway.[17]

The Taff Vale Railway saw this as a threat and promoted the nominally independent Llantrisant and Taff Vale Junction Railway, which obtained its Act of incorporation on 7 June 1861. It was to build from the Taff Vale main line near Treforest[note 6] to make a junction with the Ely Valley Railway at Maesaraul, near Llantrisant. The line opened in December 1863 for freight traffic. A passenger service was operated from Pontypridd to Llantrisant from 21 January 1875.[19]

The nominally independent Cowbridge Railway was authorised on 29 July 1862, to build from the Great Western Railway (former South Wales Railway) station at Llantrisant to Cowbridge. This was another Taff Vale dependency as it failed to generate the necessary subscriptions to build the line itself. The line opened in February 1865. The GWR line was broad gauge, and the branch to Cowbridge was accessed from the Llantrisant and Taff Vale Junction Railway. Trains from Pontypridd ran over the final section of the Ely Valley Railway and across the South Wales Main Line to the Cowbridge Railway terminus, where they had to reverse to continue.[20]

By-passing Quaker's Yard incline, and opening Pontypridd north curveEdit

The incline at Quaker's Yard had become increasingly busy to the point of serious congestion, and in 1864 the decision was taken to by-pass it. A new route with a gradient of 1 in 40 was installed nearby and was commissioned in mid-1867. The TVR had running powers over the GWR Taff Vale Extension line from Quaker's Yard to Llancaiach and the mineral output from the mines there could now more conveniently be brought out via Quaker's Yard, avoiding the incline on the Llancaiach branch, which was closed except for a short section at the north end. A north curve at Pontypridd was opened in October 1872, also facilitating the transfer of mineral output between the branches of the TVR system.[12]

Dare ValleyEdit

There was intensive mining activity in the hills to the south of Aberdare, and the Vale of Neath Railway had already opened a branch there. In 1866 the Dare Valley Railway, incorporated 1863, was opened from Aberdare to the Bwllfa Colliery[note 7] in 1866. The line was worked by and leased to the TVR.[2]

Reaching DowlaisEdit

Iron production in South Wales peaked in 1871, after which the process was remorseless decline. An exception was at Dowlais, where the Bessemer process of steel making was instigated from 1865. This required a different quality of iron ore, not available locally, and the potential traffic flow of imported ore encouraged thoughts of improved railway connection. Several unsuccessful schemes were put forward, but a joint venture between the Rhymney Railway and the Great Western Railway (by now owner of the Taff Vale Extension line) resulted in the Taff Bargoed Joint Line. This opened on 10 January 1876 for goods and minerals from Taff Bargoed Junction, immediately west of Llancaiach station, to Dowlais. Passenger operation started on 1 February 1876.

The Taff Bargoed Joint Line had been authorised in 1867 and there were certain protections in its Act for the Taff Vale Railway, including running powers over it. In 1872 the TVR presented a Parliamentary Bill to build on that, making a new railway to Llancaiach, with new connections to the Taff Vale Extension line. The intention was to run to Dowlais over the Llancaiach line and the Taff Bargoed line. The TVR already had access to Dowlais over the Dowlais Railway, but this route seemed more attractive, linking in the Navigation Colliery, and possible traffic from the Taff Bargoed line itself.

In fact the terms of the running powers did not permit through running at Llancaiach and the TVR's intentions were frustrated when the GWR declined the facility, and the Llancaiach branch was not brought into full use.[12]

Later extensions to the systemEdit

Merthyr stationEdit

The TVR's original station in Merthyr at Plymouth Street was opened on 12 April 1841, and was a short distance south of the town. This was joined in 1853 by the High Street station of the Vale of Neath Railway. A short joint line (TVR and GWR) was built to connect the TVR line to the new station in 1877. A year later, in August 1878, the Taff Vale transferred all of its passenger services to the High Street station, and used Plymouth Street as a goods depot instead. High Street station thus became the only passenger station in Merthyr, and was used by a total of six separate companies prior to the 1923 grouping. The TVR also opened stations at Merthyr Vale in 1883 and Pentrebach in 1886.[2]

Penarth TownEdit

A short branch from the Penarth Dock line to the town was opened on 20 February 1878. Known as the Penarth Extension Railway, it was a mile long, running up a gradient of 1 in 40 from Cogan Junction to Penarth Town.[8][2]

Treferig Valley Railway, and the L&TVJR lineEdit

Seeking further expansion north of Llantrisant, the Taff Vale encouraged the formation of the Treferig Valley Railway, incorporated on 21 July 1879. This opened a 2-mile 56 chain branch from Treferig Junction, near Common Branch Junction on the Llantrisant and Taff Vale Junction line, to Treferig and Glyn Collieries in April 1883 for mineral trains only.[19]

In 1865 the Ogmore Valley Railway was opened. It was a standard gauge line, and there appeared to be enormous potential to bring standard gauge mineral trains to Penarth. The Taff Vale obtained authority to build a north-west to south-east diagonal line across the Llantrisant and Taff Vale Junction Railway system to handle this traffic. Financial difficulties delayed construction, and in the meantime the South Wales main line of the GWR was converted to standard gauge.

Now a main line railway was available for the Ogmore Valley traffic via Bridgend, and at a stroke most of the (unbuilt) diagonal line was of little value. However, there were severe penalties in the legislation if it were not constructed, so the TVR used delaying tactics. It was eventually built throughout: the section from Common Branch Junction to Waterhall Junction, between Radyr and Penarth, giving direct access to the docks opened in 1886 for goods and mineral traffic only.[19]

Roath branchEdit

The volume of mineral traffic exported through Penarth Docks had continued to grow, and capacity of the railway and of the docks was overwhelmed. On 23 April 1888 the Taff Vale Railway opened a branch railway to the Roath Dock, itself opened in 1887, on the east side of the Cardiff complex of docks. The line diverged from the main line at Roath Branch Junction and arched round the east of the built-up area of the city of Cardiff as it was at that time, connecting with the Cardiff Railway lines in the docks.[2]

The Queen Alexandra Dock was opened in 1907 and was also served from the branch.[8][2]

Ynysybwl branchEdit

The Taff Vale Railway obtained powers to build a branch to collieries in the Clydach Valley in 1872, but then lost enthusiasm for the project when anticipated colliery development in the area did not materialise.

However Lady Windsor Colliery, near Ynysybwl, was sunk in 1885, and promised to be a substantial activity. The Taff Vale Railway decided to build a branch line to serve it. It ran from a north-facing junction a mile or so south of Abercynon to collieries near Llanwonno, some way west of Ynysybwl itself; the branch was 4 miles 67 chains in length and it opened for goods and mineral traffic in 1886, though some informal use may have taken place in 1884; the passenger service as far as Ynysybwl started from Aberdare Junction, (known as Abercynon from 1896) on 1 January 1890.[12]

In 1900 a south curve connection to the main line was opened, but the TVR was concerned about congestion at Pontypridd, and held off from starting the southward passenger service. After a delay, a motor car (railmotor) passenger service connecting Pontypridd and Ynysybwl was started on 17 October 1904, the northward service to Abercynon being then discontinued.[12]


The original Llancaiach branch had left the Merthyr main line at Stormstown Junction, just south of Abercynon, and crossed the River Taff and then swung east to reach its objective. It had opened in 1841. After a period of dormancy, in 1878 a deviation was built avoiding the rope-worked inclined, but due to a dispute over running rights with the GWR the new line was little used.

Several decades later other collieries required to be connected on the east side of the Taff, in particular Albion Colliery, in preparation, and productive from 1887, and Cardiff Dowlais Colliery, productive from 1889. The decision was taken to make a branch from a junction further south, in fact at Pont Shon Norton, at the northern margin of Pontypridd. This was opened in 1887 as far as Cilfynydd.

In 1900 the branch was extended northward to join the earlier Llancaiach branch, at Ynysdwr Junction; this was opened to traffic on 1 June 1900. A passenger service operated from Pontypridd to Nelson, on the TVR line a little short of the junction with the Taff Vale Extension line, and did not use the GWR Llancaiach station there.[note 8] A motor car (railmotor) service was inaugurated on 10 August 1904.[12]

Cowbridge to AberthawEdit

The Cowbridge and Aberthaw Railway was authorised on 12 August 1889 to build from the end of the Cowbridge Railway to Aberthaw on the Bristol Channel, where there were important limestone quarries. The Cowbridge terminus was not aligned to permit the extension, and a new Cowbridge passenger station was opened on the Aberthaw line, the old terminus reverting to goods status. The Aberthaw line opened on 1 October 1892. The little company was vested in the Taff Vale Railway effective from 1 January 1895. The opening of the Vale of Glamorgan Railway in 1895 abstracted much of the potential mineral traffic.[20]

Pontypridd improvementsEdit

Relief lines were constructed at Pontypridd in the 1890s, enabling goods trains to pass the station, and wait for a path, without interfering with passenger trains. Between 1907 and 1914 the station was rebuilt as a single long island platform with numerous bays. This work included raising the level of the entire station by nearly 5 feet (1.5 m). The new station had over 8,200 square yards of platform, and passengers starting or finishing a journey there exceeded 10,000 daily by 1920.[2]

Congestion was serious at Stormstown too, and layout enhancements were installed there in 1906; the opportunity was taken to shift Berw Road Platform from the site on to the Llancaiach branch.[12]

Competing railwaysEdit

The Taff Vale Railway had been the first railway to serve the valleys of South Wales, at first to chiefly handle the iron products of Merthyr, but soon to bring the coal output of the area served to the docks of Cardiff. As the coal production of the region grew so greatly, it was inevitable that competing companies would enter.

Rhymney RailwayEdit

The Rhymney Railway was the main competitor to the Taff Vale in bringing coal down from the valleys. For many years, until 1871, this involved Rhymney Railway coal trains running over the Taff Vale main line from Walnut Tree to Cardiff. The line was extremely congested.[2]

In 1867 the Rhymney Railway obtained running powers over the Taff Vale Extension line between Hengoed on the Rhymney system, through Aberdare to Hirwaun, giving it direct competitive access to the Aberdare coalfield.[12][21]

Cardiff Dock congestion and BarryEdit

The phenomenal increase in volume of coal shipped out of the various Cardiff docks had long been such that the capacity was overwhelmed. There were constant complaints that congestion on the railway, and in the harbour, resulted in unacceptable delays and costs. One outcome of the situation was the promotion and construction of docks at Barry, and the Barry Railway, which ran direct from the Rhondda collieries to Barry. The Barry Railway was authorised in 1884, and Barry Docks opened on 18 July 1889.

The Barry Railway went on to promote a direct Cardiff, Penarth and Barry Junction Railway, which would run direct and also have a roundabout line following the coast. The Taff Vale opposed this and promoted its own alternative lines. Parliament decided on a compromise, in which the Barry Railway could build the direct line from a junction with the Taff Vale and Cogan, and the Taff Vale would build the coastal route, from Penarth Town, joining the Barry Railway at Biglis Junction, near Cadoxton. The Taff Vale scheme was authorised by the Cardiff, Penarth and Barry Junction Railway Act of 6 August 1885. The line was ready and opened on 1 December 1887, but the junction connection at Biglis was not made at first; for the sake of diplomacy it had to wait until the Cogan connection of the Barry line was ready, and they both opened on 20 December 1888. Taff Vale passenger trains ran through to Biglis Junction station of the Barry Railway from August 1889. (The station was renamed Cadoxton on 1 June 1890). The Cardiff, Penarth and Barry Junction Railway became vested in the Taff Vale Railway by Act of 26 August 1889.[8][2][14]

Pontypridd to NewportEdit

The extensive and modern dock facilities at Newport were serving the Monmouthshire valleys well enough, but there was a natural desire to handle some of the profitable business of the Cardiff Valleys too. The docks at Newport were operated by the Alexandra (Newport and South Wales) Docks and Railway, the railway part of their operation being confined to the docks area. They encouraged the formation of a nominally independent railway, the[Pontypridd, Caerphilly and Newport Railway, authorised in 1878. The line ran from a junction immediately south of the Taff Vale Railway station at Pontypridd to near Caerphilly, relying on running powers from there over the Rhymney Railway and the Brecon and Merthyr Railway to reach Newport. The line was opened in July 1884. Seeing this as an opportunity, the Taff Vale worked the mineral trains for the PC&NR (until 1906).[2][22]

Rhondda and Swansea BayEdit

Swansea docks too was expanding its facilities: the new Prince of Wales Dock opened in 1881; during construction the owners saw that attracting coal shipments from the Rhondda valley could be beneficial, and the result was the promotion of the Rhondda and Swansea Bay Railway, which was to run from Treherbert, at the head of the Rhondda Fawr, through a long tunnel to cross the watershed, and the down the valley of the River Afan. The construction of the tunnel took a long time, and the line opened in 1890.[2]

Cardiff RailwayEdit

The Bute Docks Company was created on 1 June 1887 when the Bute Docks properties were vested in the new company. In 1897 it succeeded in getting authorisation to build a railway, which became the Cardiff Railway, to build from Heath on the Rhymney Railway to Treforest on the Taff Vale Railway, and a southward line from Heath to the docks at Roath. It took until 1911 to construct he line from Heath as far as a point close to the Taff Vale line at Treforest, but the Taff Vale succeeded in fending off the incursion. In fact the connection was never made, and the Cardiff Railway never achieved its potential.[8][12]

Financial performanceEdit

In the period 1870 to 1888 the dividend on the ordinary shares averaged ​12 12 per cent.[2]

The twentieth centuryEdit

Steam railcarsEdit

The emphasis throughout the nineteenth century existence of the TVR had been on mineral traffic. When Ammon Beasley became General Manager in 1891 he sought to increase the passenger income of the company, particularly in the face of street-running passenger tramcars. In 1903 he introduced steam "motor cars" on the TVR. These were self-contained passenger coaches incorporating a small steam engine; the intention was to adopt a low-cost means of serving wayside communities by opening very basic stopping places (referred to as "Platforms") and having a more frequent timetable.

Consideration was given to whether the "platforms" could be at ground level, accessed by folding steps on the vehicle, but the decision was taken to make them elevated.[12]

The first experimental run was on the Penarth branch on 21 December 1903

The TVR used the system in both rural and suburban situations, and it was commercially successful for some time; the TVR had 19 steam railcars at the peak, with first and third class accommodation. They had the disadvantage of inflexibility at busy times, and the small traction units became worn out after a decade and a half. At that stage the TVR converted the coaches to push-and-pull control trailers, using small independent locomotives as the power unit.

As well as starting to use steam railcars in 1903, the TVR obtained Parliamentary powers in that year to install electric traction equipment. However the powers were never used.[8]

From 1922Edit

The Taff Vale Railway system in 1922

Following World War I the government decided to restructure most of the railways of Great Britain into one or other of four large companies. The process was called the "grouping" and was legislated in the Railways Act 1921. The old Great Western and six of the South Wales railway companies were constituents of the new Great Western Railway. The other smaller railways in the GWR area were "subsidiaries". The Taff Vale Railway was the second largest constituent of the new Great Western Railway; the old GWR was the largest. The Taff Vale Railway was amalgamated into the putative new GWR on 1 January 1922.[note 9]

Immediately prior to the amalgamation, the trading position of the Taff Vale was (compared to the GWR in brackets):

Issued capital: £6.42 million (£101 million); net income in 1921 £464,654 (£6,188,433); annual dividend on ordinary stock in 1922 4% (7 1/4%); route length 112 miles (2,784 miles); number of employees 5,690 (91,985).[23]

The Grouping meant that the competitive situation with the Rhymney Railway no longer existed, and in July 1928 a new connection was installed at Cardiff Queen Street to enable the Rhymney trains to use Queen Street instead of the unsatisfactory Parade station adjacent.

The production of steel at Dowlais ceased in 1930; the inward haul of iron ore had sustained the Cilfynydd line, and the GWR decided that the thinly patronised passenger service was unsustainable; it was taken off, and the line closed completely above Cilfynydd from 12 September 1932.[12]

From 1948Edit

The main line railways of Great Britain were taken into nationalised ownership at the beginning of 1948, following the Transport Act, 1947. The former Taff Vale area became part of the Western Region of British Railways. The end of World War II had brought to notice what had become inefficient working methods, and British Railways immediately set about some closures.

The mineral line above Old Ynysybwl had never reached its potential, and was closed completely on 22 September 1949; the passenger was closed on 28 July 1952, and all ordinary traffic ceased in November 1959. Lady Windsor colliery continued in business, served from the Stormstown direction, until closure of the colliery on 26 March 1988 and of the mineral trains after 20 May 1988.[note 10][8][12]

The Pwllyrhebog branch was closed on 1 July 1951.[18][17] The Pontypridd to Llanstrisant passenger service ceased on 31 March 1952; the goods service closed in 1959. The Cowbridge line closed to passengers on 26 November 1951.[2][17]

In June 1952 a new connection was made at Taffs Well to the colliery at Nantgarw, enabling closure of the Cardiff Railway connection beyond Coryton.[2]

By the 1960s more passenger closures took place, and the rationalisation of some over-provision of infrastructure was also implemented. The Aberdare branch was closed to passengers on 16 March 1964, and the line was singled in 1968. The Maerdy branch (Rhondda Fach) passenger service was withdrawn on 15 June 1964, and the branch was singled later that year. The Blaenrhondda branch was closed in 1966, and in June 1966 the Bute Road branch was singled. The Penarth branch was singled in February 1967, and the west-to-north curve at Pontypridd was closed on 5 August 1968.[8]

The Roath branch was closed on 6 May 1968. In addition the now-freight-only Cowbridge line closed completely in November 1965 (except for iron ore traffic to Llanharry, until 1975. The Penarth to Cadoxton line closed completely on 6 May 1968, together with the Roath Dock branch on the same day.[8][2]

Closures in the mid 20th century left the Taff Vale as the only railway route to Merthyr Tydfil. Plymouth Street goods station was closed in 1968. The line from Black Lion signal box (Merthyr Vale) to Merthyr Tydfil was singled in February 1971. As mineral traffic declined, the quadruple track south of Pontypridd was unnecessary, and it was reduced to double line in 1980.

The Albion Colliery branch, served from Pont Shon Norton, closed completely in September 1970.[8][2]

The Merthyr line from Abercynon was singled in 1971 and the Treherbert line above Cwmparc was singled in 1972.[8][2]

On 10 August 1973 the extremity of the Aberdare branch was altered; approaching from Abercynon, the line crossed the River Cynon at Cwmbach, along the alignment of the much earlier Cwmbach colliery spur, and joined the former Taff Vale Extension and Vale of Neath line into Aberdare. The line from the point of divergence to Aberdare TVR was closed.

The Eirw branch closed in 1977 when the last colliery finished operation. The Rhondda Fach branch also lost its freight service in 1987.[8][2]

The network todayEdit

The main routes of the Taff Vale Railway are in action today with passenger operation dominant. Merthyr, Aberdare,[note 11] and Treherbert have train services to Cardiff Queen Street. The Cardiff Bay branch operates the majority of the former Cardiff Docks branch. The Penarth branch and the Radyr to Ninian Park line complete the surviving passenger routes. In 2018 the passenger operation is under the management of Transport for Wales.

There is a very limited freight service, consisting only of trains from Tower Colliery, above Aberdare.


On 19 October 1878 an empty passenger train was turning on the Pontypridd triangle; it was propelling wrong line from North Junction to Rhondda Cutting Junction; it collided with a down Rhondda train; there were thirteen fatalities.[2]

On 12 August 1893, a defect on a locomotive caused a passenger train to derail at Treforest, Llantrisant Junction. Thirteen people were killed and twelve were injured. The 3.50 p.m. train from Merthyr to Cardiff derailed. The train was conveying through coaches from Aberystwyth. A pin forming part of the suspension of the locomotive fractured and the locomotive collapsed, and six passenger vehicles ran down the embankment and were smashed.[24]

On 23 January 1911, a passenger train ran into the rear of a coal train at Coke Ovens, near Pontypridd. Eleven people were killed and five were seriously injured. The accident was due to irregularities in the block working by the signalman, who forgot that he had admitted the first train into the section and had not received Train Out of Section for it. The block instruments were of the two-position type.[25]


Note: the Llantrisant and Taff Vale Junction line, the Cowbridge and Aberthaw branch, the Ynysybwl branch and the Llancaiach line are dealt with on their respective main pages.

Main lineEdit

Cardiff to Merthyr Tydfil
Merthyr Plymouth Street
Merthyr High Street
Dowlais Incline
to Dowlais Ironworks
Merthyr Vale
Quakers Yard
Incline Top
Aberdare Branch
to Aberdare
Llancaiach Branch
to Nelson
Ynysybwl Branch
to Ynysybwl
Llancaiach Branch
to Nelson via Cilfynydd
Rhondda Branch
to Treherbert & Maerdy
Llantrisant Branch
to Llantrisant
Taff's Well
Cardiff Queen Street
Bute West Dock
Cardiff Docks (Bute Road)
  • Merthyr; opened 21 April 1841; closed 1 August 1877; passenger trains transferred to High Street station;
  • Brandy Bridge Junction; convergence of line from Merthyr High Street;
  • Pentrebach; opened 1 August 1886; renamed Pentre-Bach 1980;
  • Troed-y-rhiw; opened by December 1841; still open;
  • Merthyr Vale; opened 1 June 1883; still open;
  • Quaker's Yard; opened 11 January 1858; renamed Quaker's Yard Low Level 1924; renamed Quaker's Yard 1968; now Quakers Yard; still open;
  • Incline Top; opened 29 September 1841; closed December 1857;
  • Navigation House; opened 9 October 1840; renamed Aberdare Junction 1849; renamed Abercynon 1896; renamed Abercynon South 1988; renamed Abercynon; still open
  • Llancaiach Branch Junction / Stormstown Junction;
  • Clydach Court Junction;
  • Berw Road Platform; opened 17 October 1904; closed 1 July 1906;
  • Pont Shon Norton Junction; convergence of Llancaiach branch;
  • Pontypridd Northern Junction; divergence of Pontypridd Loop towards Porth;
  • Newbridge Junction; opened 9 October 1840; renamed Pontypridd 1886; still open;
  • PC&N Junction; divergence of Caerphilly line;
  • Treforest; opened by December 1846; later renamed Trefforest; still open;
  • Treforest Junction; divergence of line to Llantrisant, and of Cardiff Railway;
  • Maesmawr; opened 30 October 1840; closed 20 April 1841;
  • Treforest Estate; opened 5 January 1942; later renamed Trefforest Estate; still open;
  • Taff's Well; opened 9 October 1840; alternatively known as Walnut Tree Bridge and Walnut Tree Junction; now Taffs Well; still open; convergence of Nantgarw branch; convergence of Walnut Tree Branch from Penrhos Junction;
  • Radyr; opened 1 June 1883; still open; divergence of Radyr Branch (to Penarth);
  • Llandaff Loop Junction; convergence of Llandaff Loop;
  • Llandaff; opened 9 October 1840; renamed Llandaf; still open;
  • Roath Branch Junction;
  • Maindy North Road Platform; opened May 1907; renamed Maindy North Road Halt 1922; renamed Maindy Halt 1952; closed 15 September 1958;
  • Cathays Woodville Road Platform; opened July 1906; renamed Cathays Woodville Road Halt 1922; renamed Woodville Road Halt; closed 15 September 1958;
  • Cathays; opened 3 October 1983; still open;
  • Crockherbtown Lower Junction; divergence of line to Cardiff East Dock;
  • Queen Street North Junction; convergence of connection from Heath line;
  • Cardiff; opened 9 October 1840; later known as Cardiff Queen Street; still open;
  • Cardiff East Branch Junction; divergence of Cardiff East branch;
  • Cardiff Bute Dock; opened after April 1841; renamed Cardiff Docks, then Cardiff Bute Road, more recently Cardiff Bay; still open.

Merthyr High StreetEdit

  • Merthyr (Vale of Neath Railway station); opened 2 November 1853; Taff Vale passenger services transferred in 1 August 1877; renamed Merthyr Tydfil 1980; still open;
  • Mardy Junction; divergence of line to Vale of Neath Railway;
  • Brandy Bridge Junction; above.

Aberdare lineEdit

  • Mill Street; opened 5 April 1847; closed 21 November 1852; reopened 26 November 1904; closed to public June 1912 but miners' use continued until 1940s;
  • Dare Valley Junction; convergence of line from Nantmelyn;
  • Commercial Street Platform; opened 26 November 1904; closed June 1912;
  • Aberdare; opened 6 August 1846; renamed Aberdare Low Level 1924; closed 16 March 1964;
  • Treaman; opened January 1857; renamed Aberaman 1888; closed 16 March 1964;
  • Aberaman; opened 5 April 1847; closed 14 July 1856; divergence of Aberaman Colliery branch;
  • Aberaman first station; convergence of line from Aberaman colliery; convergence of Cwmbach branch;
  • Duffryn Crossing Platform; opened 26 December 1904; renamed Abercwmboi Platform 1906; renamed Abercwmboi Halt 1922; closed 2 April 1956;
  • Fernhill; opened 3 October 1988; still open;
  • Mountain Ash; opened 6 August 1846; renamed Mountain Ash Oxford Street 1924; closed 16 March 1964; reopened as Mountain Ash 3 October 1988; still open;
  • Penrhiwceiber; opened 1 |June 1883; renamed Penrhiwceiber Low Level 1924; closed 16 March 1964; reopened as Penrhiwceiber 3 October 1988; still open;
  • Matthewstown Platform; opened 1 October 1914; renamed Matthewstown Halt 1922; closed 16 March 1964;
  • Pontycynon Bridge Platform; opened 26 December 1904; renamed Pontcynon Bridge Platform 1910; renamed Pontcynon Bridge Halt 1922; renamed Pontcynon Halt 1954; closed 16 March 1964;
  • Abercynon North; opened 3 October 1988; closed 2008;
  • Abercynon; above.

Dare Valley BranchEdit

  • Bwllfa Colliery;
  • Nantmelyn Platform; opened 1 July 1904 for miners only; closed 1 April 1949;
  • Aberdare LL (above)

Rhondda FawrEdit

Rhondda Valley


Blaenrhondda Branch
Blaencwm Branch
Ystrad Rhondda
Clydach Vale
Pwllyrhebog Branch Jn
Pontygwaith Halt
Wattstown Platform
Rhondda Fach Junction
Cymer Colliery
Aerw Branch Junction
Hafod Junction
to Cardiff │ to Merthyr
  • Fernhill Colliery, Blaenrhondda;
  • Fernhill Colliery; opened 1875 for miners; closure date uncertain;
  • R&SB Junction; convergence of R&SB line;
  • Treherbert; opened 12 January 1863; still open;
  • Tylacoch Platform; opened October 1906; closed November 1912; reopened as Ynyswen 29 September 1986; still open;
  • Treorky; opened 27 September 1869; relocated by 30 chains 3 March 1884; renamed Treorchy 1892; still open;
  • Pentre Platform; opened October 1906; closed November 1912;
  • Ystrad; opened 4 February 1861; renamed Ton Pentre 29 September 1986; still open;
  • Ystrad Rhondda; opened 29 September 1986; still open;
  • Llwynypia; opened May 1871; still open;
  • Tonypandy and Trealaw; opened 9 March 1908; renamed Tonypandy 1973; still open; convergence of Pwllyrhebog branch;
  • Dinas Rhondda; opened 2 August 1886; closed 12 April 1917; reopened July 1919; now Dinas (Rhondda); still open
  • Pandy; opened 1 May 1861; closed 2 August 1886;
  • Porth; opened 4 February 1861; still open;
  • Hafod; opened 30 August 1861; closed 17 October 1892;
  • Hafod; opened 17 October 1892; at 14m 72c over three miles from previous station at 18m 8c; renamed Trehafod 1905; still open; convergence or Airw Branch;
  • Trehafod Junction; divergence of Barry Railway line;
  • Gyfeillon Platform; opened 5 June 1905; closed July 1918;
  • Rhondda Cutting; divergence of north curve towards Merthyr;
  • Pontypridd; above.

Rhondda FachEdit

  • Maerdy Colliery;
  • Maerdy; opened 18 June 1889; closed 15 June 1964;
  • Ferndale; opened 1868 as private station for workers of D Davis & Sons; closed 13 March 1875; opened to public 5 June 1876; closed 15 June 1964;
  • Tylorstown; opened 24 May 1882; closed 15 June 1964;
  • Pontygwaith Platform; opened 5 June 1905; closed 1 October 1914;
  • Wattstown Platform; opened 5 June 1905; closed 12 July 1920;
  • Ynyshir; opened by July 1885; closed 15 June 1964;
  • Porth (above).

Roath branchEdit

  • Roath Branch Junction; above;
  • Roath Goods;
  • Roath Docks.

Radyr to Penarth HarbourEdit

  • Radyr; above;
  • Quarry Junction; divergence of Llandaff Loop;
  • Danescourt; opened 5 October 1987; still open;
  • Waterhall Junction; convergence of Llantrisant No 1 Branch (L&TVJR from Common Branch Junction);
  • Fairwater; opened 5 October 1987; still open;
  • Waun-Gron Park; opened 2 November 1987; still open;
  • Ninian Park Platform; opened by July 1934 although probably for football matches from 1912; closed 3 September 1939; reopened as Ninian Park 5 October 1987; still open; convergence of Leckwith Loop; divergence of line to Cardiff Central;
  • Penarth South Junction; convergence of line from Cardiff Central;
  • Grangetown; opened 29 May 1882; still open;
  • Penarth Harbour Branch Junction; divergence of line to Penarth Town;
  • Penarth Dock; opened 20 February 1878; closed 1 January 1962.

Penarth BranchEdit

Penarth Harbour Junction;

  • Llandough Platform; opened 13 June 1904; closed 3 June 1918;
  • Penarth Dock Branch Junction; divergence of line to Penarth Dock;
  • Cogan Junction; divergence of Barry Railway;
  • Dingle Road; opened 1 March 1904; still open;
  • Penarth Town; opened 20 February 1878; later Penarth; still open;
  • Alberta Place Halt; opened 19 September 1904; closed 6 May 1968;
  • Lower Penarth; opened 1 February 1897; renamed Lower Penarth Halt 1935; closed 14 June 1954;
  • Lavernock; opened 1 December 1887; closed 6 May 1968;
  • Swanbridge Halt; opened by July 1906; closed 6 May 1968;
  • Sully; opened 24 December 1888; closed 6 May 1968;
  • Biglis Junction; convergence with Barry Railway.[26][27][28]


Taff Vale steam railmotor

Prior to 1873, the Taff Vale's locomotives were designed and built by outside contractors. The TVR's locomotive engineers and superintendents were:[29][30]

  • George Bush (to September 1841)
  • Edward Bage (1841–December 1842)
  • William Brunton (December 1842–?)
  • Richard Gregory
  • William Craig
  • Alexander Colville (?–1846)
  • Henry Clements (December 1846–January 1858)
  • Joseph Tomlinson (January 1858–July 1869)
  • B. S. Fisher (1869–1873)
  • Tom Hurry Riches (1 October 1873 – 4 September 1911)
  • John Cameron (1911–1922)

Locomotive classesEdit

Lawsuit against a trade unionEdit

In 1901 the Taff Vale Railway Company successfully sued the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, a trade union, for damages due to losses accrued during a strike by their members, who were seeking to compel the company to recognise the union. The Company was awarded £23,000 by decision of the court, reversing the belief that trade unions were immune to damages from the actions of their members. Following the change of government in 1906, the Trade Disputes Act 1906 was passed, giving trade unions immunity from such claims.[31]

Preserved locomotives and rolling stockEdit

Carriages and wagonsEdit

A selection of original Taff Vale rolling stock has survived into the present day.

Taff Vale Railway Coaches Nos. 220, 153, 145, 52, and 31 are all preserved at the Gwili Railway in west Wales, and are in the care of the Gwili Vintage Carriage group.[32] TVR coach No. 73 has also been restored to service on the Swindon and Cricklade Railway.[33] Coaches Nos. 277, 210, and 112 stand in a private residence. Coaches Nos. 203, 48, and 51 are now owned by the National Museums & Galleries of Wales.

TVR four wheel 7-plank mineral wagon 10153

Only one mineral wagon is known still to exist today, at the Didcot Railway Centre.[34]

One six-wheel brake van body is also known to still exist in private residence in Wiltshire.[35]


Two locomotives are preserved.

Taff Vale Railway O2 class class 0-6-2T No. 85, built in 1899 at Neilson, Reid & Co., Glasgow, and as of 22 October 2018, is currently undergoing overhaul on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway with a boiler ticket that expires in 2026.

Taff Vale Railway O1 class class No. 28, built in 1897 at Cardiff West Yard Locomotive Works, is the last surviving Welsh standard-gauge locomotive. It is owned by the National Railway Museum, under the custodianship of the National Museum of Wales and requires a major overhaul. As of 2013, the cosmetic restoration of No. 28 was to go ahead. The aim was to return the locomotive to original condition.[36]


  1. ^ Trevithick had experimented with steam engines at Coalbrookdale in 1802.
  2. ^ Brunel originally chose the broad gauge for the Great Western Railway on the basis that large diameter carriage wheels could be located outside the width of the body, as in stage coaches. The larger diameter wheels would give smoother running at high speed. In fact Brunel abandoned that idea when the rolling stock for the GWR was being produced.
  3. ^ Barrie says 12 April 1841; Barrie revised Baughan, and Chapman say 21 April, deferred from 12 April.
  4. ^ The Newport, Abergavenny and Hereford Railway amalgamated with others to form the West Midland Railway in 1860, and that company amalgamated with the Great Western Railway in 1863.
  5. ^ The zigzag was in front of Jones Street, Tonypandy, on the land now occupied by Glan-y-Llyn.
  6. ^ The junction there was known as "Llantrisant Junction".
  7. ^ Some authors spell this Bwlffa, but that is a mistake.
  8. ^ The GWR later opened a station named Nelson & Llancaiach replacing their Llancaiach station.
  9. ^ The Grouping is popularly supposed to have taken place on 1 January 1923, but in fact the process was phased over more than a year.
  10. ^ An enthusiasts' special train ran on 15 October 1988.
  11. ^ The Aberdare line uses the former TVR line as far as Cwmbach.


  1. ^ Barrie 1980
  2. ^ 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 aa ab ac D S M Barrie, revised by Peter E Baughan, A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: volume 12: South Wales, David St John Thomas, Nairn, second edition ,1994, ISBN 0 946537 69 0
  3. ^ a b Charles Hadfield, The Canals of South Wales and the Border, David & Charles, Newton Abbot, second edition 1957, ISBN 0 7153 4027 1
  4. ^ M J T Lewis, Early Wooden Railways, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1970, ISBN 0 7100 7818 8
  5. ^ Andy Guy and Jim Rees, Early Railways, Shire Library, Oxford, 2011, ISBN 978 0 74780 811 4
  6. ^ William Weaver Tomlinson, The North Eastern Railway: its Rise and Development, Andrew Reid and Co, 1915
  7. ^ Thomas Donaghy, Liverpool and Manchester Railway Operations, 1831–1845, David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 1972, ISBN 0-7153-5705-0
  8. ^ 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 D S M Barrie, The Taff Vale Railway, Oakwood Press, Tisbury, second edition 1950 reprinted 1982
  9. ^ Stephen K Jones, Brunel in South Wales: volume 1: In Trevithick's Tracks, Tempus Publishing, Stroud 2005, ISBN 0 7524 3236 2
  10. ^ Brunel, reporting to Board Meeting August 1838, quoted in Jones, page 127
  11. ^ Railway Times, page 138, volume not stated, quoted in Jenkins, pages180 and 181
  12. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Colin Chapman, The Nelson and Ynysybwl Branches of the Taff Vale Railway, Oakwood Press, Headington, 1997, ISBN 0 85361 512 8
  13. ^ Correction note in Barrie, page 45
  14. ^ a b D S M Barrie, The Barry Railway, Oakwood Press, 1978, ISBN 978-0853612360
  15. ^ E T MacDermot, History of the Great Western Railway: volume I: 1833 - 1863, part 2, published by the Great Western Railway, London, 1927
  16. ^ Rex Christiansen, A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain: volume 13: Thames and Severn, David & Charles (Publishers) Limited, Newton Abbot, 1981, ISBN 0 7153 8004 4
  17. ^ a b c d e Colin Chapman, The Ely Valley Railway: Llantrisant – Penygraig, Oakwood Press, Usk, 2000, ISBN 0 85361 558 6
  18. ^ a b c The Pwllyrhebog Incline in the Railway Magazine, November 1951
  19. ^ a b c Colin Chapman, The Llantrisant Branches of the Taff Vale Railway: a History of the Llantrissant and Taff Vale Junction Railway and the Treferig Valley Railway, The Oakwood Press, Headington, 1996, ISBN 0 85361 481 4
  20. ^ a b Colin Chapman, The Cowbridge Railway, Oxford Publishing Company, Poole, 1984, ISBN 0-86093-284-2
  21. ^ R W Kidner, The Rhymney Railway, The Oakwood Press, Headington, 1995, ISBN 0 85361 463 6
  22. ^ John Hutton, The Newport Docks and Railway Company, Silver Link Publishing Limited, Kettering, 2002, ISBN 1 85794 163 2
  23. ^ Peter Semmens, History of the Great Western Railway: 1: Consolidation, 1923 - 1929, George Allen and Unwin, London, 1985, Studio Editions reprint 1990, ISBN 0 04385104 5
  24. ^ Major Marindin, Report ln the Circumstances of an Accident at Treforest on 12 August 1893
  25. ^ "Report by Lieutenant-Colonel Druitt on the Fatal Collison that occurred on the 23rd January 1911, between a passenger train and a mineral train, at Coke Ovens, near Pontypridd, on the Taff Vale Railway"
  26. ^ M E Quick, Railway Passenger Stations in England Scotland and Wales—A Chronology, The Railway and Canal Historical Society, 2002
  27. ^ R A Cooke, Atlas of the Great Western Railway, 1947, Wild Swan Publications Limited, Didcot, 1997 ISBN 1-874103-38-0
  28. ^ Col M H Cobb, The Railways of Great Britain -- A Historical Atlas, Ian Allan Publishing Limited, Shepperton, 2003, ISBN 07110 3003 0
  29. ^ Davies, F.K.; Firth, J.M.; Lucking, J.H.; Thomas, R.E.; Allcock, N.J.; Sterndale, A.C.; Barrie, D.S.M.; Reed, P.J.T.; Mountford, E.R. (April 1966). White, D.E. (ed.). The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway, part ten: Absorbed Engines, 1922-1947. RCTS. p. K137. ISBN 0-901115-20-7.
  30. ^ Marshall, John (1978). A Biographical Dictionary of Railway Engineers. Newton Abbot: David & Charles. pp. 48, 181–2, 216–7. ISBN 0-7153-7489-3. LCCN 77085011.
  31. ^ James C Docherty and Sjaak van der Velden, Historical Dictionary of Organized Labor, Scarecrow Press, Plymouth, third edition 2012, ISBN 978 0 8108 6196 1
  32. ^ "Gwili Vintage Carriage Group - GVCG". Archived from the original on 19 April 2018. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  33. ^ "Swindon & Cricklade Railway restoring Taff Vale Railway coach No 73". Archived from the original on 25 October 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  34. ^ "TVR 10153 Mineral Wagon". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  35. ^
  36. ^ "Llan Railway works on historic loco facelift". Archived from the original on 18 January 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2018.

External linksEdit