Retracing the Cardiff Railway, Part Ten: Ty Glas, and Llanishen Royal Ordnance Factory

Opened on the 29th April, 1987, Ty Glas is by far the most recently built of the stations on the Coryton Line, it’s construction taking place long after the operations of the Cardiff Railway and it’s successor, the Great Western Railway, had ceased. Unlike other stations on the Coryton Line, Ty Glas has entrances at both the north and south of the station; access from the south requires passengers to cross the track to reach the platform sited on the north side of the track. Of course, with no Cardiff Railway or GWR lineage behind it, there’s not much else to say about the station itself.

Ty Glas in 2009. Image from Wikipedia.org

Ty Glas in 2009. Image from Wikipedia.org

That isn’t to say there’s no history at the site of the station – just north of Ty Glas station lies another bit of lost trackbed. Although not part of the Cardiff Railway or the GWR itself, the track connected the line to Cardiff’s Royal Ordnance Factory, No. 17.

Aerial view of Llanishan Royal Ordnance Factory, approx. 1948. The former Cardiff Railway line can be seen running left to right, just above the centre of the photograph. The spur off to the ordnance factory can be seen centre left, and Birchgrove Halt centre right. (image from http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk)

Aerial view of Llanishan Royal Ordnance Factory, approx. 1948. The former Cardiff Railway line can be seen running left to right, just above the centre of the photograph. The spur off to the ordnance factory can be seen centre left, and Birchgrove Halt centre right, just past the bridge over the track. (image from http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk)

Cardiff’s Royal Ordnance Factory No.17 opened in 1940 and focused on the construction of field guns and other weaponry to be used during World War 2. At it’s height, over 3,000 people were employed at the factory. The works suffered a tragic incident on 27 March 1943, when a shell from one of the anti-aircraft batteries exploded and killed nine people.

The small locomotive shed, with the factory's diminutive Peckett shunting loco posed outside. (image from http://lightmoor.co.uk/books/archive-issue-33/ARCH33)

The small locomotive shed, with the factory’s diminutive Peckett shunting loco posed outside. (image from http://lightmoor.co.uk/books/archive-issue-33/ARCH33)

 

Aerial view of Llanishan Royal Ordnance Factory, approx. 1948 (image from http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk)

Aerial view of Llanishan Royal Ordnance Factory, approx. 1948. The former Cardiff Railway can be seen to the right, which would later be the site of the newer Ty Glas station. (image from http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk)

It remained in operation following the end of the war, manufacturing for civil aviation, until it was repurposed in 1960. At that point, it became part of the Atomic Weapons Establishment and was rechristened as AWE Cardiff, and the production lines switched to the manufacture of components for the British nuclear weapons programme.

The facility produced non-fissile components for all United Kingdom nuclear warheads. Nuclear weapon component production started in 1961-63 and continued until the facility closed in 1997. Workforce had dwindled to 400, but the facility now specialized in high precision components and complex assemblies, including thermonuclear weapon components and beryllium/U-238 tampers for fission primaries. From the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, approximately 7,000-10,000 lb of Beryllium a year were processed in Llanishen, but this number reduced dramatically throughout the 1990’s.

Aerial view of Llanishan Royal Ordnance Factory, approx. 1948 (image from http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk)

Aerial view of Llanishan Royal Ordnance Factory, sometime after 1950. (image from http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk)

All production ceased at the plant in February 1997. The site has since been demolished and was cleared of remaining minimally radioactive material in 2002. New housing now exists on the site, with Ty Glass station just south of it.

The historical journal ‘Archive’, (nos. 33 & 34), contains a two-part article on Llanishen ROF. ( B.A.Malaws, RCAHMW, 24 March 2003).

And that concludes the route of the former Cardiff Railway. The next stop along the line is the Cardiff Queen Street hub (which I’ve talked a little about here). I hope everyone has enjoyed this ten-part piece on a lost bit of South Wales railway infrastructure. I’ve certainly enjoyed looking into the history behind it all.

 

 

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