WAUN-Y-COED OR YNYSCEDWYN IRONWORKS AND CWM-NANT-LLWYD COLLIERIES RAILWAY, SWANSEA CANAL
Map Reference SN70SW
Grid Reference SN73830494
Unitary (Local) Authority Neath, Port Talbot
Old County Glamorgan
Type of Site CANAL, RAILWAY, RAILWAY INCLINED PLANE
Broad Class Transport
Period Post Medieval
Site Description Waun-y-coed or Ynyscedwyn Ironworks and Cwm-nant-llwyd Collieries Railway (900m north-east of Pontardawe, 15,128m from Swansea Basin) runs east 120m from the branch canal across the Tawe to Ynyscedwyn Ironworks Colliery. It was probably built in 1828. It originally entered a level on the east (far) bank of the river. The level entrance (dated) was rebuilt by the Swansea Valley Railway in 1863 and is still open. The line was later extended up an incline to a level on the scarp above. An inclined-plane was then built rising obliquely south-east from the Tawe flood-plain to the plateau above, this being a line to Cwm-Nant-Llwyd Colliery. It was operated by a differential drum described in detail in 1833:
`... the Swansea Canal, to which [come] the railways from the various works in this district. This coal is raised by level, and, by an ingenious contrivance of Mr Branton [William Brunton Senior, a nationally known engineer who was commissioned to undertake various projects by George Crane, operator of the Ynyscedwyn Ironworks] of London, the machinery possesses a material advantage over that in common use, this is effected by a small wheel circumscribing the drum, round which the cord is coiled in a contrary direction to the smaller, and by attaching the full trams to one end of the lower cord, and those at the pit's mouth to the end of the upper cord, the former are drawn over a level of four hundred yards, while the others descend an inclined plane double that length, the diameters of the wheels being respectively in proportion (1).
The rubble Pennant sandstone supporting pillars of the drum survive. The approach embankment from the colliery to the drum includes a short, high dry stone causeway, a characteristic of railways to be seen at Hirwaun Ironworks, Parsons Folly (Aberdulais) and elsewhere in the South Wales Coalfield. This impressive causeway spans the valley of the Nant Gelli-nedd and is carried over the stream by a semi-circular arch.
In 1845 George and Patrick Moir Crane were the lessees of the railway.2 The railway was still feeding both the Swansea Vale Railway and the canal in 1877 but by 1897 had ceased to supply the latter.3 The whole dock complex, coke ovens and tramroads to collieries were almost certainly built by George Crane to supply of anthracite fuel by canal for his Ynyscedwyn Ironworks. Most of its route is recognisable by tracks.
Waun-y-coed Dock SN 7374 0498
Waun-y-coed Colliery SN 7383 0494
Cilybebyll Coal Level SN 7395 0477
Winding Drum Remains SN 7374 0459
Causeway Bridge SN 7377 0443
Cwm-nant-llwyd Colliery SN 7402 0380
1. S. Lewis, "Lewis's Topographical Dictionary, Volume 1", (London,1833).Entry for Kilybebill (Cilybebyll).
2. Swansea Vale Railway Book of Reference, 1845 (W.G.A.S., Q/DP 88).
3. O.S. 1/2,500 Gl. Sh. VIII. 12 of 1877 and 1/10,560 Gl. Sh. VIII.S.E. of 1897 (Published 1902).
Stephen Hughes, 15.08.2006