The Graig Tunnel

Earlier this year, I began working for Glamorgan University in Treforrest, South Wales. While using the Stilts restaurant on campus, I saw what appeared to be a bricked up tunnel mouth in the car park, and my curiosity was piqued. Cue a camera click…

Bricked up tunnel-mouth, Treforrest Campus

Bricked up on campus, April 2011

Still bricked up, mid 1950’s

Tunnel mouth, Treforrest, 1922

OS map of Pontypridd. Conviently, the tunnel is marked as ‘disused tunnel’.

Inside the tunnel, June 2011

Hospital side platform remains.

1888. A mere 123 years ago, at time of writing.

No station here….

The view away from the tunnel.

You can see from the view looking away from the tunnel exactly where the station used to run, but it’s all bricked up and a telephone exchange building now sits on the site where the bottom end of the station would have run, and it’s trackbed along with it. The grating over the tunnel mouth is a very recent addition – for the last few decades it’s been totally bricked up. At least it now affords us a view into the tunnel’s murky depths.

August 2005

The view away, back in 1999.

The old platforms are more visible in 1973.

Another view of the crumbling platforms from 1973.

Dewi Sant hospital under construction… 1965

And prior to that, I could find very little else in terms of imagery of the old station… until I stumbled across this… This view of the station seems to be taken from the site of the telephone exchange, but it gives you an idea of the size of it, and of how sadly neglected it eventually became. Operating from 16/3/1896 until 7/7/1930, passenger traffic was finally re-routed through Pontypridd Central from 10/7/1930, and it runs as such to this day. The line here and toward Tonteg was briefly re-used just before D-Day in the Second World War to store railway engines bound for Europe, as the deep valleys that the line ran through provided good bomb cover, but following the end of the war the true decline of the Valley’s railway network began, leaving Pontypridd Graig station nothing but a footnote in Valley’s transport history, and a disused railway tunnel in a hospital and university car park.

Happier days for the station during its Barry Railways days, as ‘Pontypridd’. 1922

Photography credit to Ceri Jones, Nick Catford, Chris Howells, Courtney Haydon & Cyril Crawley and Rhondda Cynon Taff county council.
Further reading: www.trackbed.com, www.disused-stations.org.uk/p/pontypridd_graig/index.shtml, www.ratsandwich.co.uk, www.rcts.org.uk/features/mysteryphotos/show.htm?img=B-65-13, http://archive.rhondda-cynon-taf.gov.uk, www.flickr.com/photos/cerij4242/
 
Update – 23/6/2017 – I’m planning a local history book that features the nearby Treforest/Rhydyfelin area – please back it now on Kickstarter!
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16 thoughts on “The Graig Tunnel

  1. The light you saw in the rtunnel was indeed the other side. I’ve recently took a picture from the uni side as workmen are working in it and let me do so. It looks suprisingly short and it’s dead straight.

  2. one of my friend guessed the location of this tunnel and i was surprised when i saw it in OS map,,, always used to think whats inside this tunnel and where it goes sort of things,,, thanks for such a nice coverage,, hope this tunnel comes handy in transport….as it is so direct

  3. I lived in Maesycoed in the 1950s (I was born in 1948) and remember as a child walking into the entrance of the tunnel on what you now call “the hospital side”. Its a pity you couldn’t add a bit on the long viaduct that used to connect it to Maesycoed (can’t find anythiing on that).

    Astonishingly, my father was an engine driver on that line (he died in 2009 aged 90)’ and in the early ’50s (we lived in Lanelay Terrace, Maesycoed) and he actually stopped the engine at the bottom of Lanelay Terrace where the line ran, and took me up onto the footplate (its my earliest memory of all !). There was a small goods yard at that point. I’m guessing that the loco must have been working from the Trehafod side since the tunnel had been disused for many years at that point.

    Thank you for the interesting article.

    • Hi Paul

      I’m glad you liked it, and thanks for the response! I had no idea that there was a viaduct as part of the line at that end – I’ll have to try and find some material about it!

      • I’ve just retired and all my life I’ve had a plan in the back of my mind to recreate a model of the goods yard which ran alongside Lanelay Crescent. I’ve still got that plan in my mind, tho’ the wife doesn’t think much of it. By the way, I have lived in Harpenden in Hertfordshire for the last 40 years. Like so many families in Glamorganshire, we moved to Herts in the 1960’s. Looking back on my young childhood, that particular railway line seemed to play a big part in it. And what about that large colliery which has disappeared?? The one between the Craig and Maesycoed that the viaduct used to run over ?? And near the tunnel entrance on the hospital side was a crisp factory!

  4. I remember this tunnel after it was abandoned as a railway line but was still open. As I child in the early 1950s I went in there exploring with a group of my friends and the local policeman came and chased us out. Marched us all off home and threatened us with dire consequences if we did it again.

    There was an interesting viaduct and we used to dare each other to cross by sidling along on the outside of it. The coalmine was the Maritime and the viaduct crossed between Maesycoed and the Graig, going over the Black Brook. It was black because the water in it has washed the coal used in the coke works further up the valley.

  5. great pics shame you didnt go right through that would have been awesome to see. its a shame the council or the powers that be didnt restore the station hospital end as a tourist attraction something like the museum in town but more on the maritime pit and the workhouse and the line itself, as a kid my mum use to tell me to keep away from the tunnel there were rats the size of dogs in there, so of coarse me and taffy had to go down there to try and see the rats the size of dogs,, i also remember where the sardis road car park is and factory lane area all the what we called underground buildings and the stream from sionies pond running through the carpark area into the taff also there was a tunnel if you follow the stream from the pond down the dragons teeth at the bottom there where the teeth end there was a tunnel up on the side going in the direction you just came i remember as a kid it being bricked up but one time i remember it open we went about 10 feet no lighter to see got scared and legged it lol dont actualy know where that tunnel led or anything i tried google but only found you, , back in the 80s me and a boy dewi decided to follow the tunnel in treforest on a DT 250 motorbike (we thought a trail bike would be best being 14 lol) heading cardiff way think it was near the allotments, we got so far in then there was girders everywhere holding up the walls i think but blocking the path so we gave up, i know theres been some talk about opening the graig tunnel and the tunnels on the line as a cycle path (theres been work been carried out on them ) i dont know if its true though but its a great idea and an attraction for tourists

  6. Pingback: Swishy animation shows off Network Rail’s plans for Pontypridd station

  7. If you look at the picture that shows the bridge blocked up through to the BT building, the stone at the base is from the old platform. When the car park was constructed I did not want it just thrown away so reused it. The bridge was filled in some years later.

  8. I was a student at the uni in 1998. At some point while we were there someone took a sledgehammer to the wall and knocked a part of it down opening access. One day while we were randomly exploring the campus we found the opening and, of course, being reckless teenagers decided to have an explore. I honestly don’t recall with any accuracy how far we got. The floor was very wet and boggy and it was like standing outside in the Welsh rain with water coming down from above. It was the depth of the water underfoot that made us turn back but it has remained in my thoughts ever since. There was a pin prick of light coming from the far end.

    We took off with the idea of finding the other end. Randomly wandering the streets of ponty until we got lucky. At that time the graig end was a real mess. Under about 3 ft of water and junk everywhere. We got nowhere near.

    We always planned to have another look inside but never got round to it.

  9. I live on the Graig and over the years, often people would walk to my drive and then turn around. It wasn’t until we applied for planning permission for a garage, that we were told that the Barry rail line tunnel was directly under our drive and we had to have an engineer to drill to see if it was safe to build a garage. That’s why people use to walk to our drive, so they could see where the track started. I also have a map of the rail line within my house deeds 😊

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