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South Wales industrial railways


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Allied Steel & Wire was formed by British Steel Corporation & G.K.N. in the wake of the closure of Cardiff's East Moors steel works (always known locally as just 'the Dowlais'and pronounced locally as 'the Dowluss' not 'Dowlice').

 

The electric arc furnace was intended to be a cost effective answer to railing in billets from as far afield as Scunthorpe.

 

In later years the company, through one particualr manager, was extremely 'pro-rail'.

 

The company operated a fleet of Yorkshire Engine Co. 0-6-0DE shunters, of both single ended and 'Janus' types; all purchased second hand from the Port of London Authority. These locos were given names from Arthurian legend, an idea inherited from a fleet of former HC (Hudswell Clarke) shunters purchsed by GKN second hand from the Port of Bristol Authority.

 

Unfortunately, around 1994 ASW contracted out their internal rail operations to Wilmott Bros. of Ilkeston, and the Yorkshire fleet was replaced with Wilmott's "rag tag" collection of NCB cast-offs.

 

Needless to say this co-operation didn't last long, and ASW approached 'Transrail' around 1996 with a view to hiring Cl.08 shunters from Canton TMD (TOPS pool LNCK).

 

The contract was taken over by EWS, using TOPS pool WSAW until ASW went into liquidation in July 2002.

 

The plant was purchased by the Spanish conglomerate Celsa and re-opened with a new £90million electric arc furnace.

 

Cl.08/Cl.09 locos are still used on a contract basis from the adjacent DBS Tidal Sidings, but only two are required to cover the current duties, with another spare ...... until all three fail, as did recently and 66023 was used as a super shunter.

 

Anyway, here are some shots of the ASW fleet during the Wilmott Bros. era, circa 1995.

 

(i) Former GKN and ASW YE 2758/59 0-6-0DE No.390 'Amesbury'. It had originally been PLA No.231

 

(ii) Anonymous YE 'Janus' at Splott Jct. (This does not appear to be a former GKN/ASW loco).

 

(iii) 'Colossus' a TH 6wDH 296v81 seen at the Cardiff Rod Mill

 

(iv) Wilmott Bros. No.41 a YE 2910/63 0-6-0DH formerly NCB Bolsover Colliery & former GKN/ASW YE 'Janus' No.392 'Sarum' await cutting up at the premises of Allied Bird Fragmentisers opposite the Tremorfa steel works. 9th May,1995.

 

Brian R

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Next we look at Machen Quarry, part of the Hanson empire and situated at the end of a branch from Park Jct. which is on the Newport / Ebbw Jct - Ebbw Vale line.

 

In recent years the quarry lost a Network Rail ballast contract, and rail movements have decreased.

 

Cl.03 D2199 was on hire, but suffered a catstrophic failure, and was replaced by 08296, which is actually 08787.

 

The loading facilities are very basic, as can be seen from these photos.

 

There are some decent spots on the branch for photography, and provided you don't get in the way, photographers can view the shunting and loading process.

 

Brian R

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Cardiff's East Moors steel works (always known locally as just 'the Dowlais'and pronounced locally as 'the Dowluss' not 'Dowlice').

 

Brian R

 

All but one of the diesels built for the East Moors Work were the same class NB 400HP 0-6-0 DH. The odd one was a NB 225HP 0-4-0 DH. They must have been easy to maintain.

 

Also it was the only place all three classes of HE 18" 0-6-0ST (48150, 50550 and MOS) worked together.

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Just a solitary one for this evening !

 

Bird's (as in Long Marston) for many years operated scrap yards in the Cardiff area.

 

During the 1960s and early 1970s they occupied what was known as the "Forty Acre Site" located on the foreshore, near the site of the current heliport.

 

Later, in 1977, they moved to what is now Sims site alongside Rover Way, opposite the then brand new Tremorfa Steelworks, the rail connection to the works still exists, but is disused.

 

In 1968 Birds transferred two ex-BR NBL 0-4-0DH locos of the D27xx type to the "Forty Acre Site" D2736 & D2757, both from their Pontymister, Risca site.

 

Between 1969 and 1972 they also operated three ex-BR Cl.03 shunters at the site D2123, D2125 and D2185.

 

This rather poor Instamatic effort shows D2185 at the 'Forty Acre Site' around 1973

 

Brian R

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All but one of the diesels built for the East Moors Work were the same class NB 400HP 0-6-0 DH. The odd one was a NB 225HP 0-4-0 DH. They must have been easy to maintain.

 

Also it was the only place all three classes of HE 18" 0-6-0ST (48150, 50550 and MOS) worked together.

 

They were nice locos, I recall doing a survey for a new sewer at Tyndall St. alongside the works when it had just been shut, and these locos were lined up awaiting their fate - No.99 was bought after closure by the "Roath & Wellfield Coal Co." and stored at Canton TMD for a couple of years. They were unable to sell it and Woodham Bros. Barry Dock, cut it up.

 

No.107 was also 'preserved' but what its' current state or location is I don't know.

 

In fact the last four (No.115 - 118) of the 0-6-0DH locos were actually built by Andrew Barclay to North British plans.

 

Brian R

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While we're on the subject of Cl.03s sold to industry, here's another example.

 

The N.C.B. Coed Ely Coking Works near Tonyrefail was served by a BR branch from the South Wales main line at Llantrisant.

 

In June, 1970 Coed Ely hired a Cl.03 D2193 from a Newport company, A.R.Adams who hired out locos to firms across South Wales.

 

It obviously did the job, because the NCB then bought their own, D2139, which they numbered "1"

 

Later, in 1974 the NCB bought a second Cl.03, D2178, from A.R.Adams and which they numbered "2" (logically).

 

Another rather dark picture (by now I had upgraded to a Zenit B) shows No.1 aka D2139 which was transferred to Monkton Coke Works, Durham in 1983.

 

Brian R.

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Reverting to Messrs Hanson's Machen Quarry, several years ago the company organised an open day with minibus tours of the quarry area, plant on show and they put a Class 59 loco and some hopper wagons on display allowing visitors access to the loco cab.

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Highlight of the open weekend was the use of the hired in D2199 and EWS ex SR 'Queen Mary' brake van KDS56305 (borrowed from East Usk Yard and festooned with balloons !) to give rides through the loading area and along the loop line.

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Here are a few shots taken during what turned out to be a very enjoyable and informative open weekend.

 

Brian R

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I seem to recall I was perched on a piece of wood propped against a wall, balancing with difficulty to get this shot on a bleak day in Dowlais.

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The former GKN 'Ifor Works' remained open into the early 80s casting and maintaining ingot moulds for the steel industry.

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The works was served by the GWR & Rhymney Railway Joint via "Zig Zag Lines Jct" and thence to Dowlais Cae Harris where a branch crossed Dowlais High St. next to the Post Office and ran off toward the 'Ifor Works'

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In later years the line was worked by two Hudswell Clarke 0-4-0DM locos, one of which, HC D984/55 is shown here, its' working life over.

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Its partner, four years younger, fared better and was preserved.

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Brian R

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No.107 was also 'preserved' but what its' current state or location is I don't know.

 

Brian R

 

This is at Peak Rail as far as I can tell. The engine was taken out on the Avon Valley and was saved before it was scrapped. A different engine has been fitted.

 

 

Its partner, four years younger, fared better and was preserved.

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Brian R

 

The last record of this engine I know of was at the Grili Railway where it arrived in 1994 but I think it was scrapped, as there is no record of it now.

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Next we look at Machen Quarry, part of the Hanson empire and situated at the end of a branch from Park Jct. which is on the Newport / Ebbw Jct - Ebbw Vale line.

 

Brian R

 

That would make a nice little layout. The tunnel with the tight curve would make a convenient exit to a fiddle yard and would have people saying how implausible and cliched it all is. ;)

 

I'd have to change the horrible, modern US-built traction for a BR type 2 and change the 08 for a Rolls Royce though...

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Another dreary day in South Wales during the early to mid 70s saw me on the Maerdy - Aberdare road, across the valley from Mardy Colliery, and on my way to .... Mountain Ash (of which, more anon).

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By now "the Mardy beast" a Peckett 0-6-0ST 2150/54 originally built for the Slough Estates Railway (the history of which has just been reprinted) had seen better days, and was allegedly held in reserve to a diesel.

 

In later years the NCB hired in Canton Cl.08s to shunt the short branch to Mardy Colliery.

 

"the beast" lives on, in Yorkshire

 

Brian R

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Another 03 in industrial use in the Newport area D2181 - at Gwent Coal Centre on 11 April 1985. Rather nice :D - Bachmann are you watching?

 

 

Paul

 

I well remember this loco pottering about at the Gwent Coal Concentration Depot, not far from Cashmores scrap yard.

 

Unfortuantely I never got a snap of D2181.

 

Brian R

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By now "the Mardy beast" a Peckett 0-6-0ST 2150/54 originally built for the Slough Estates Railway (the history of which has just been reprinted) had seen better days, and was allegedly held in reserve to a diesel.

 

"the beast" lives on, in Yorkshire

 

Brian R

 

Ex Slough Estates Railway No 6 was P2061 1945 OX3 class and was scrapped in 1973.

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There can be little doubt that the 'steamiest place' in Wales, and possibly the U.K. during the late 1970s was the NCB network based upon Mountain Ash in the Cynon valley.

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The 'main line' started across the Afon Cynon from Penrikyber Colliery at Penrhiwceiber, then made it's way north west past a coal stocking area at Pontcynon, then past the Mountain Ash landsale yard before threading the site of the former Nixon's Navigation colliery, by now the central Workshops, diesel shed, steam shed, weighbridge, then past deep Duffryn Colliery to the Abercwmboi phurnacite plant.

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When I first visited 'Mount' there were eight steam locos at the depot, albeit 'Lord Camrose' was in bits, 'The Earl' was laid up, and ex-GWR pannier 7754 was too big, spread the track, and had recently blown a cylinder cover.

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There were an equal number of diesel locos in operation, and others visiting the NCB Central Workshop at 'Mount'.

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Many of the coal trains from the sidings alongside the steam shed were banked, and the sound of Hunslet 18" No.8 banking one diesel hauled train through the centre of town will remain with me for many a year.

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So, to todays offerings, all taken just south of the complex, at the Landsale Yard.

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(i) "No.8" built as RSH 7139/44 for the War Department, later sold and rebuilt by Hunslet before being acquired by the NCB. The loco is seen plodding past the landsale yard heading toward 'Mount' on a train of coal from the Pontcynon stacking site.

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(ii) "Lantanam Abbey" a Barclay 0-6-0ST shot from the bridge in the first photo is seen shunting the landsale yard. The two women are obviously returning toward Cardiff Road after their morning shop in Oxford St. and are almost oblivious to the then everyda antics of a steam loco. "Llantanam Abbey" went to the NCB walkden shops in the early 70s, for overhaul, and the painters mis-spelt the name, it arrived as "LlantaRnam Abbey" and left as "Llantanam Abbey"

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Brian R

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Oh how I wish someone would make a kit of one in 7mm.

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A 4wDM 'Planet' by F.Hibberd, Works No.3947 IIRC, formerly used at Midland Silicones, Cadoxton (Barry) which later became Dow Corning (allegedly the one time makers of napalm, but not at Barry).

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Obviously with a plant as secure as theirs, there is no way I'd ever bunk in there to see it, these shots were taken around 1990-1991 at its' current home, the Dean Forest Railway.

 

The loco was returned to working order after these pictures were taken.

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Brian R

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One place I'd have loved to have seen in operation was Mountain Ash. I remember as a kid being enthralled by the pictures of operations there in Steam Railway back in the late 70s. Thanks, Brian!

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Excellent stuff, Brian - much appreciated - and good to see you and the gang last night. Severely wet drive back home!

 

Just for you then, in light of your gift from Santa . . . . . .

 

(Unfortunately, they are not the best snaps)

 

7754 stood for some time on the right hand road in the engine shed, awaiting the repair that never came. To the left can be seen "No.1" and "Llantanam Abbey" - of which more in the future.

 

On Saturday 27th. March, 1976 the Monmouthshire Railway Society ran a DMU special around South Wales, that took in NCB Mountain Ash.(Again more in the future)

 

As steam worked seven days a week, there was no need to doing anything out of the ordinary for the hundreds of gricers that descended on the two sheds and the workshops...... apart from dragging 7754 into the daylight !

 

A promised tour in open wagons was caped, due to condition of the trackwork in places.

 

My mate Peter and I jumped off the DMU as it arrived back in Cardiff (heading for the Vale of Glamorgan Line) and made for Cardiff City v Millwall !!!

 

 

Brian R

 

PS.

 

7754 was built for the GWR by North British, works 24042/30.

 

It was sold by BR to the NCB in July 1959 for use at Windsor Colliery, Abertridwr, before moving on to Llanbradach Colliery and by September, 1962 it was at Deri Colliery.

 

By July, 1963 7754 was at the Tredegar Central Workshops of the NCB, before leaving sometime in late 1964, early 1965 for Elliott Colliery, New Tredegar.

 

The loco then moved again,January 1969, to the Talywain network in Gwent but in May, 1970 it was towed by a Cl.37 through Cardiff, and Radyr to Mountain Ash.

 

It spent nearly six months in Mountain Ash Central Workshops in early 1974, and was reportedly out of use by 1976, and was purchased for preservation at Llangollen in 1980.

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As I mentioned above, operations at Mountain Ash were a seven day a week affair, and so unlike many colliery systems in the 70s the Sunday morning shift would see at least one loco in steam.

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Here are two more shots of "Llantanam Abbey" taken one Sunday morning.

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(i) Here she is drawing a rake of hoppers bound for Abercwmboi phurnacite plant, but is also propelling a raft of 16 tonners into the exchange siding with BR alongside the former Taff Vale Railway station, Mountain Ash (Oxford St.).

Notice the lady walking through 'Nixon's yard' - this was a public right of way, and immediatley behind the loco were level crossing gates, and the roof of "Nixons Crossing Signal Box" can be seen to the left of the photo.

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(ii) Having depoisted the 16 tonners in the exchange siding, Llantanam Abbey reversed back through the yard, and then took the right hand fork onto the 'main line' past the diesel shed on its right, steam shed on its left and made off toward Abercwmboi.

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At this point, I cranked up the Mini Clubman and went home for lunch.

 

Brian R

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Paul

 

I well remember this loco pottering about at the Gwent Coal Concentration Depot, not far from Cashmores scrap yard.

 

Unfortuantely I never got a snap of D2181.

 

Brian R

Brian

 

You have astounded me. I thought you 'did' eastern South Wales thoroughly. Although I never did really understand the railways of Newport or Cardiff - I only ever 'found' this place once. I have posted the three (!) photographs I have of GCC at http://paulbartlettsotherrailwayphotos.fotopic.net/c1933006.html Seems very good inspiration for a model - quite a simple layout. Are there plans available anywhere?

 

Paul Bartlett

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