Merry Christmas, everyone. I hope you’re all wrapped up nice and warm!

Last week, the #uksnow finally arrived in South Wales, turning everything into a winter wonderland right on our doorstep. With the car buried in snow, Mrs H and I headed out on foot with the cameras. I’ve been sharing these shots via my Desktop Wallpaper project all week; here’s a round-up of all of the photos that I’ve published on Flickr for the snow.

Poor Driving Conditions

Snow-Covered Cables

The A470 Under Snow

Taff Trail Sign In The Snow

Disappearing Off Into The Snow

Merthyr Road In Mist

Sunlight On The Snow

School's Out For Snow

Snow-Covered Cables

Zebra Crossing With A Snow Hat

Rusting Pole In The Snow

Bus Stop In The Snow

Quarry In The Snow

Cottages Through The Trees

Trecherous Side Road

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | Twitter.

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Merthyr Road In Mist

It’s Christmas Eve, which means that this week’s theme of a snow-covered Merthyr Road is drawing to a close. So, to finish off the week, here’s how the end of my street looked on Saturday morning after the unseasonable snow Friday afternoon and evening.

40 years ago, before the A470 trunk road was completed, this was the main road between Cardiff, Merthyr and Brecon, but thanks to the snow and mist, this week it was reduced to picture-postcard status. Plenty of 4×4’s and vans still struggled up and down it, with the odd car too, but snow ploughs? Didn’t see one all morning whilst we were out with the cameras, sadly.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s seasonable and unusually (for me!) topical theme. Have yourself a safe and Merry Christmas.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | Twitter.

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Snow-Covered Cables

This week’s wallpaper theme is the unseasonable snow that arrived at the weekend, as we countdown to Christmas Day on Saturday.

Everywhere we looked was a photograph just waiting to be taken, and that included looking upwards. It’s fair to say that much of South Wales infrastructure remains firmly in the 20th century, and there are fewer things that hark back to the fading end of the industrial period more than the mass of telegraph poles carrying overhead cables into our stone terraced houses. If you’re out and about trying to capture photos, remember to look up!

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | Twitter.

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Poor Driving Conditions

One of the reasons we chose to move to Pontypridd was that it’s got excellent road and rail links, including the impressive A470 trunk road. But on Saturday, the recent and unseasonable winter weather turned both the A470 and its predecessor (renumbered the A4054) into snow-bound car parks for the morning.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | Twitter.

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Taff Trail Sign In The Snow

My plan for this week was to start my ‘2010 In Photography’ review … but the turn in the weather at the weekend was simply too good a photography opportunity to pass up. So, as we countdown to Christmas Day on Saturday, my wallpaper choices this week are all based around South Wales in the unseasonable winter snow.

The UK has been suffering from the snow for a bit now, but mostly we’ve managed to avoid it down here in and around Cardiff. All that changed on Friday, as the snow gods finally remembered about us and decided to pay us a visit! Mrs H and I woke up on Saturday morning to a scene we haven’t seen since I moved over here ten years ago now, and headed out on foot with the cameras to capture the conditions. We’re very lucky where we live, as the Taff Trail runs very close to our front door. Oddly enough, there weren’t any cyclists out on Saturday morning though 😉

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook
Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | Twitter.

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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North of Coryton Railway Station, the old Cardiff Railway is long gone; the track ripped up, stations demolished. But it would be wrong to say that there’s nothing left of the old line that once made an ambitious (and far from simple) route up the valley, snaking over and under everything that had already gone before, in an attempt to provide another way for coal to make it from Pontypridd down to the docks at Cardiff.

The single most spectacular section is the nature trail that leads immediately north of Coryton Railway Station up to Longwood Drive, where in days gone by Cardiff Railway was carried over Middle Lock by a bridge. Then there’s some surviving hints where the Cardiff Railway was carried underneath the Rhymney Railway (now the Taff Trail cycle path from Taffs Well to Nantgarw). And then Cardiff Railway re-appears through Taffs Well and out to Nantgarw.

The section out to Nantgarw has, in recent years, been revived as a pedestrian and cycle way, with a new bridge laid across the A4054 to replace the old railway bridge that is long gone. In May of 2009, I went out to the bridge with my Nikon D200 to capture the site as it stands today. I hope you enjoy it.

The Photos

Lost Cardiff Railway Bridge

When it was still in existence, Cardiff Railway used to run through Taffs Well and then out and over the old A4054 Merthyr Road at this spot, crossing from right to left before running atop an embankment north to Nantgarw and the coking plant that used to be there before the land was cleared and turned into Treforest Industrial Estate.

Railings On The New Foot Bridge

The original railway bridge is long gone, but today, the old railway trackbed through Taffs Well is a foot path and cycle way, which is carried over the A4054 by this modern bridge.

Looking North Towards Nantgarw

Looking north from the bridge, the path runs atop the old railway embankment. You can see from the overexposed area on the left of the shot just how much the light and shade contrasts here.

New Bridge Along Cardiff Railway Route

Here’s a better view of the new bridge over the A4054, taking anyone walking or cycling north out of the shaded path and out into the bright sunlight.

Spider's Web In The Railings

In the railings leading up to the bridge, I spotted these spider webs.

Looking South Towards Taffs Well

The route south into Taffs Well from the bridge is best described as “shaded”. Even on a bright day like this one, the path is well sheltered from the sun by the retaining wall to the east and the trees growing on both sides.

Towards A Former Crossing Over The Cardiff Railway

I first walked this route quite a few years ago, before I had heard of the Glamorganshire Canal or any of the railways that I’ve spent so long exploring through the Merthyr Road project.

One of the first clues that there was a lost industrial heritage all around us that I was ignorant of came along this very track, where an old crossing point over the old railway still exists.

Beware of trains

Half-hidden in the bushes besides the old crossing is this sign: “Beware of trains”. The style is one I recognise from the old coal railways of my youth in Yorkshire.

It was this sign, and one just like it up in Treforest, that first made me wonder about what used to be here in the valleys before everything we see today.

House And Church Visible From The Old Railway Route

The former railway crossing leads to this house and what looks like a former church or chapel just behind it.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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Earlier in 2010, I decided to spend a Sunday exploring the railway stations of the Coryton Line. This is the surviving section of the Bute’s Cardiff Railway, the last of the great railways built to bring coal down to the Cardiff docks. I’m sure I read somewhere that the Bute’s original intention was to run this railway along the route of the Glamorganshire Canal (which the Marquis had earlier bought), but that ultimately he wasn’t allowed to close the canal, and so had to come up with an alternative route for his railway.

Today, the Coryton Line is a single-track commuter run that swings east to west across the north of Cardiff. There are no services on a Sunday, making it the perfect day to explore these stations.

The Photos

Coryton Railway Station

This is the northern end of the Coryton Line, the surviving segment of the Cardiff Railway’s torturous (and ultimately unsuccessful) route up into the valleys in competition for carrying Rhondda and Merthyr coal.

Today, just beyond the fence, there’s a short (about 20 mins or so) but beautiful walk along the old trackbed up to Longwood Drive.

Coryton Railway Station

The bridge in the background carries the A4054 (the original Merthyr Road, before the A470 was built in the late 1960’s) over the old route of the Cardiff Railway.

Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all) | facebook: (Merthyr Road project) (all).

If you’re reading this in the RSS feed, my original blog post also includes a Google map showing where this photo was taken. Unfortunately I haven’t managed to get the map to appear yet in the RSS feed, so for now you’ll have to click through to my blog if you want to see the map. Sorry.

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The Rooftops Of Cilfynydd

Cilfynydd today stands on the northern edge of Pontypridd as it creeps up the Taff valley towards Abercynon and beyond to Merthyr Tydfil. It sits to the east of the route of the Glamorganshire Canal (now buried beneath the A470 trunk road).

Most of the old terraced housing was built between 1884 and 1910, with the population exploding from a hundred or so people to over 3,500! This sudden population of what was originally a farming hamlet was driven by the opening of the Albion Colliery (closed 1966; today is the site of Pontypridd High School) in 1887. The village suffered great tragedy and loss in 1894 when 290 men and boys were killed by a massive underground explosion in the colliery.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cilfynydd

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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Looking North Along The Lost Canal

I wasn’t around when the Glamorganshire Canal still existed; I wasn’t even born when in 1969 the canal was filled in to make room for the A470 trunk road. So I can’t say for certain that the Glamorganshire Canal ran exactly along this wall, and I can’t say for certain that this wall is a remnant of the wall sometimes seen in old photos separating what’s now the A4054 from the canal …

… but whenever I stand at this spot and gaze north towards Navigation (modern-day Abercynon), sometimes it’s nice to dream of what the views might have been two hundred years ago, and one hundred years ago.

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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The Royal Oak, Pontypridd

The Royal Oak, at the southern end of Cilfynydd, is today best known for its Chinese restaurant and take-away. I can certainly vouch for their omelettes, although I must admit in recent weeks my favourite has been the sweet and sour chicken strips. Perfect when I’m home late from work and we’re both too tired to face the cooker!

I haven’t been able to find out much about when the Royal Oak was built. There’s mention of a Royal Oak pub in Glyntaf in the 1891 census, but unfortunately the accompanying images are behind a paywall (grrr – the National Archives website sends you to a commercial firm’s website which charges for access), so I can’t confirm whether this is the same pub or not. Like many of the properties along the A4054 through Cilfynydd, the Royal Oak would have backed onto the Glamorganshire Canal before it was closed.

If you can cast any light on the history of the Royal Oak, please leave a comment below.

References:

http://yourarchives.nationalarchives.gov.uk/index.php?title=Place:Pontypridd_Registration_District%2C_1891_Census_Street_Index_P-R

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (all).

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