The local railroads and tramroads were developed to mainly carry limestone from the quarries to the ironworks, and then to export cast iron and coal to the canals.
Running from Beaufort to the canal at Gilwern
The 3’8″ gauge Clydach Railroad dated from 1793. It was constructed by Thomas Dadford as a horse-drawn edge railroad and was the first to connect the upland coal and iron works with the Brecon & Abergavenny Canal at Gilwern. It followed the northern side of the Clydach Gorge down to the canal where it had its own loading wharf at Gilwern.
Trams carried heavy loads of cast iron from Beaufort and Ebbw Vale and limestone from Darren Ddu (Black Rock) Quarries down to the canal and returned loaded with timber felled from the Usk valley and animal fodder.
Reaching Brecon by 1800 the canal made this town an important coal-trading centre with tramroad links into Radnor and Herefordshire. Canal and feeder traffic increased greatly after 1812 when it was extended to Newport and the sea. Most of this route was closed by 1833 and by 1864 trade had fallen almost to nothing causing the rest to close too.The canal was replaced by the new Merthyr,Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway.
Eifion Lloyd Davies and Peter Morgan Jones
Running from Sirhowy Ironworks to Beaufort Ironworks
Running from Tredegar to Newport
Initiated by Richard Fothergill, one of the owners of the Sirhowy Ironworks, the Sirhowy tramroad was built to provide a direct link between Tredegar and Newport along which the products of Sirhowy ironworks could be transported.
The stretch between Tredegar and Nine Mile Point, near Risca, was opened in 1805. Here, it linked to the tramroad to Newport operated by the Monmouthshire Canal Company making the entire length 28 miles. It was one of the longest tramroads at this time. Horse drawn trams were used first of all, but these were replaced by early locomotives, and, later, a passenger service was also introduced. Now demolished, a long stone viaduct was built at Risca to carry the tramroad across the Ebbw valley.
Running from Rhymney To Talybont on Usk
Initiated by Benjamin Hall and built in 1815, (of Big Ben fame) the Bryn Oer (Brinore) tramroad was a cross-country route constructed to extend the tramroad which connected Benjamin Hall’s ironworks in the Rhymney valley to the limestone quarries at Trefil. This extension enabled his finished iron and coal to be carried to the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal at Talybont on Usk.
The route to Trefil was known as ‘Hall’s Trefil Tramroad’ and the route across the moors to Talybont on Usk was know as the ‘Bryn Oer / Brinore tramroad. Brinore is an Anglicisation of Bryn Oer (Cold Hill) .
The tramways were operational from 1815. Horse drawn trams carried limestone from Trefil quarries southwards to Hall’s ironworks in Rhymney where it was used for fluxing and then the trams returned northwards to the canal at Talybont on Usk with the finished iron, picking up coal mined from the Bryn Oer Colliery on the way Once the products reached the canal they were taken by barge to the lucrative markets in Brecon.
Running from Nantyglo to Govilon Wharf
Construction started on Crawshay Bailey’s Tramroad in 1819 and was completed 2 years later. Its purpose was to transport iron from Nantyglo Ironworks down through Clydach Gorge diectly to Govilon Wharf on the Brecknock and Abergavenny canal.
Running from Llangattock to Nantyglo
Around 1829 Crawshay Bailey built this tramroad to transport limestone from Darren Cilau Quarries above Llangattock to his Nantyglo Ironworks. After acquiring an earlier tramroad going from Darren Cilau quarries down to the Abergavenny and Brecknock canal at Llangattock he used it as an export route for his iron too.