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GRAIGOLA (SOUTH) COLLIERIES RAILWAY, COED GWILYM, SWANSEA CANAL

Site Details


NPRN 406361

Map Reference SN70SW

Grid Reference SN70520159

Unitary (Local) Authority Swansea

Old County Glamorgan

Community Clydach

Type of Site RAILWAY

Broad Class TRANSPORT

Period Post Medieval

Site Description Graigola (southern) Colliery Level Railway, Dock and Clay mill (10,358m from Swansea along the Swansea Canal) Dock 23, Ttramroad 28, Mill 7. The railway dock alongside the towing-path was a large, irregular, four-sided basin on ground sloping down from the south bank of the canal and this basin may have had its origins in the fulling mill-pond already mentioned. The dock had long been dry when the site was partially cleared in l976 to be incorporated into the adjacent golf-course, but parts of the wall survive on the mound on which it was built.

The main wharf occupied the north-east side of the dock and contained a number of buildings. The l84l census mentions a house here, which would have been for a wharfinger. There are substantial remains of a fire-clay mill on the canal bank immediately north-east of the dock. Strangely, they bear little resemblance to the plan on the l875 map. The wheel pit, however, is the only one visible alongside the canal although full of rubble and is some 2.7m long. Presumably the raw materials for the mill were brought from Graigola Colliery by railway. The mill was powered from an overflow sluice. The feed-water probably crossed a large stone-walled platform still existing alongside the canal. A waste-weir still stands south-west of the wheel-pit and is one of those diverting water back into the River Tawe above the Ynys-penllwch Mills as required by the Canal Act.

From the dock, the railway crossed a narrow stream on a tall bridge (abutments still standing) then ran south-east across the flood plain on a substantial still existing embankment. This probably crossed the River Tawe on a timber trestle bridge, of which the slipped rubble-stone bridge abutment survives on the north-west bank. It continued on an embankment some 1.5m high past the site of what the Ordnance Survey called a 'lime kiln' or 'air shaft' on various maps. It is more likely to have been an air-shaft. The railway crossed a cattlewalk near Neuadd-wen farm on a small rubble stone arched underbridge, passing a level and smithy, south of Neuadd-wen. Here it originally entered a level but later was extended obliquely up the scarp to Graigola Colliery.

The original railway was probably built in or soon after 17991 by the ironmaster Richard Parsons. It was possibly engineered by William Bevan and/or Edward Martin.2 The railway is known to have been in operation in c. 1811-133 but to have gone out of use by 1826.4

The line was reconstructed in c. 1831,5 possibly by Hart Logan. The coal went to supply Usborne and Benson's Copperworks at Morriston.6 In 1852 the line became the first canal railway replaced by the Swansea Vale Railway, which passed by the colliery on the east side of the valley.

Dock SN 7044 0171
Fireclay Mill SN 7044 0174
Stream abutments SN 7044 0166
Tawe riverbridge abutment SN 7052 0159
Underbridge SN 7064 0144
Graigola Colliery SN 7097 0144 and the
Top level SN 7120 0156.

1. The Graigola Colliery was worked through two level mouths. William Bevan and Edward Martin reported on the colliery in 1799 and recommended the construction of a line to the Swansea Canal (Collier, S. Wales Coal, 31). That to the northern level was built first (see below).
2. Ibid.
3. Walter Davies notes coal being shipped at Tynycoed in c. 1811 (N.L.W., MSS., 1758B) and the line is shown on the O.S. Drawings.
4. 'Hill Sketches', 1" Sh. 37,Serial No. 460, Swansea H2.
5. Hart Logan took over the colliery together with Usborne and Benson in 1831. (Roberts, Gower Coalmining, 76). There is likely to have been a connection with W.E. Logan, the mining engineer, who was resident in Swansea in the 1830s.
6. Ibid.
7. Ibid. Usborne and Benson were still in occupation of the colliery in 1852 (N.L.W. Brecon Q/RP 55).

Stephen hughes, 26.06.2007

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