Retracing The Cardiff Railway, Part Three: Nantgarw

Moving down from Upper Boat, the next stop on the old Cardiff Railway would have been the low level Nantgarw halt. Located at the top of Oxford Road, if the halt were around today it would be just off the roundabout that leads onto Treforest Industrial Estate – specifically, the more retail and education based section. This stop was fairly nondescript as far as passenger service was concerned. I couldn’t find any photographs of the original halt in situ – I could only work out it’s original location from the 1914 Ordnance Survey maps. The halt is center bottom of the below picture…

Nantgarw Halt - OS 1914-page-001

I did manage to find some photos of the Nantgarw High Level halt, which was a stop on the Pontypridd, Caerphilly and Newport line some way up the mountain – but that’s now part of the Taff Trail, and perhaps a story for another day.

When the Cardiff Railway found it’s freight services stymied by legal potholes set in place by the Taff Vale Railway, it instead turned the line into a none-to-successful passenger service. Operating from 1909 until 1922, that might have been the whole story for this particular stop – but as luck would have it, it would find it’s way into freight… of a fashion.

The land adjacent to the line had been the basis for a colliery numerous times in the 20th century. Nantgarw Colliery opened in 1915, and at a depth of 782.73 meters was the deepest mine in South Wales.

Used by kind permission of Rhondda Cynon Taff Libraries

This 1910 photo of early construction work on Nantgarw Colliery is taken from nearby Nantgarw Halt, from the trackbed embankment before the bridge over Oxford Road.

It operated until the mid 1920’s when it closed for the first time, before a late 1930’s revival was halted by the outbreak of the Second World War. By the late 1940’s, the Ministry of Fuel and Power along with the NCB, had drawn up plans to re-open the mine once again.

nangarw-colliery_under_construction

The new Nantgarw Colliery under construction, late 1940’s/early 1950’s

 

This new venture totally eradicated the original colliery structures and replaced them with new up-to-date technology. Crucially, alongside this major upheaval, the old Cardiff Railway line still stood adjacent, and can be seen in the picture above on the far right. The halt at Nantgarw was long since gone, but the bridge it run over still remained, and the track was re-purposed to run freight down to Taffs Well and beyond, where it would head on to Cardiff.

Nantgarw_Colliery_Coke_plant_Ben_Brooksbank 1973

A view of the colliery from the approach from Caerphilly, in 1973. The old site of Nantgarw Halt can be seen just left of the second lamppost, near picture centre. Photo by Ben Brooksbank.

 

The colliery ran (though not without it’s share of political and strike-based problems) until the late 1980’s. Following it’s closure, the land was slowly redeveloped as a further extension of Treforest Industrial Estate. The Showcase Cinema, Coleg Morganwg, and a variety of other businesses now stand where the colliery once stood.

Nantgarw_Oxford_Street_Bridge_Geoff_Atkins_July_89

A close up view of the bridge over Oxford Street, 1989, looking towards Treforest & Pontypridd. The halt entrance walkway would have been on the left side of the bridge. Photo by Geoff Atkins.

Nantgarw_Ceri Jones_Old_Bridge_Oxford_Street

A close up view of the bridge over Oxford Street, late 1980’s, looking towards Taffs Well and Cardiff. The halt entrance walkway can be seen on the right side of the bridge. Photo by Ceri Jones.

Nantgarw_Oxford_Street_Bridge_Geoff_Atkins_July_89_2

The view atop the bridge itself, from June 1989. The tracks are still in situ at this point. The old Nantgarw Halt would have been in the distance, just past the bridge. Photo by Geoff Atkins

As for the site of the halt itself? Following the colliery closure, the bridge over Oxford Street was also removed as part of the leveling of the trackbed, thus erasing it from existence completely. A few hundred yards down from the site of the halt, the surviving trackbed is now part of a walking trail, but the short-lived Nantgarw Halt is a dim and distant memory.

Untitled

The modern day view of the site of the bridge over Oxford Street, looking towards Treforest & Pontypridd. The halt site and bridge are gone, and one of the old Nantgarw Colliery winding wheels is on display by the roundabout. Photo from Google Maps.

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The modern day view of the site of the bridge over Oxford Street, looking towards Taffs Well & Cardiff. Photo from Google Maps.

Although Cardiff Railway had ceased operations in the 1920’s, from the 1950’s to the 1980’s, rail traffic did continue to pass from Nantgarw down to Cardiff in some form. Along the way it would pass through the next stop on the old railway – Glan Y Llyn. That will be part four of this series – and tantalisingly, it’s a small part of the Cardiff Railway that still exists today… in a way. Stay tuned.

Many thanks to Ben Brooksbank, Geoff Atkins and Ceri Jones for their photography. Some other resources used for this blog:

http://www.museumwales.ac.uk/rhagor/article/2036/

 http://www.oldmapsonline.org/

http://maps.nls.uk/

 

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