Pontypridd Signal Box

The disused railway signal box at Pontypridd is a Grade II listed building, and was once part of Pontypridd Junction. It played a part in the Hopkinstown Railway Disaster of 1911 (see also Wikipedia), when a stationary northbound coal train failed to comply with Rule 55 and ended up in collision with a southbound passenger train. Eleven people lost their lives.

Today, the signal box stands abandoned, unused. I’ve been unable to find any online reference for when the signal box closed. If you know, please leave a comment below.

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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Baltic House

Mount Stuart Square, a designated conservation area since 1980, is home to something like 60 listed buildings. Some of these listed buildings are considered landmark buildings; some are not.

One of the landmark buildings is Baltic House. Built in 1915, Baltic House faces the main entrance of the Coal Exchange. I’ve been unable to find much online about its history, but it is reasonable to assume that it had some connection to the coal trade through the Bute Docks of the day. Today, it appears to be a multi-tenant office block.

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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The Historic Coal Exchange

Mount Stuart Square, a designated conservation area since 1980, is home to something like 60 listed buildings. Some of these listed buildings are considered landmark buildings; some are not.

The crown jewel of Mount Stuart Square is the Coal Exchange, where the world’s first 1 million pound business transaction was conducted. Today, it’s a multi-purpose building, and its entrance still proudly projects the feeling of power and importance of the affairs that used to happen inside.

References

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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Aberdare House

Mount Stuart Square, a designated conservation area since 1980, is home to something like 60 listed buildings. Some of these listed buildings are considered landmark buildings; some are not.

Aberdare House isn’t one of the landmark buildings, but when I recently wandered around the square with my camera, the carvings above the door really caught my eye. Sadly, I’ve been unable to learn much about its original history to date; if you know more about the building, please leave a comment below.

What I did find was that, 1933, it was the registered office of Bwllfa & Cwmaman Ddu Collieries Ltd, a company which operated nine coal mines in the Aberdare area, outputting one million tonnes of coal a year. By 1937, the company had changed its name to just Bwllfa & Cwmaman Collieries Ltd, and had moved its registered office to London. Both companies were run by Sir David Richard Llewellyn, a leading member of the coal mining industry in South Wales who was made a Baronet in 1922.

Today, Aberdare House is used by the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and first round auditions for all of their 2010 acting programme will be held here. There also appears to be residential premises upstairs too; I found a mention of the sale of a flat back in 2007.

References

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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Flexible Office Space at the Coal Exchange

Mount Stuart Square, a designated conservation area since 1980, is home to something like 60 listed buildings. Some of these listed buildings are considered landmark buildings; some are not.

The crown jewel of Mount Stuart Square is the Coal Exchange, where the world’s first 1 million pound business transaction was conducted. Today, it’s a multi-purpose building, and a walk around the outside of it reveals that it currently isn’t fully-let. I’ve never seen inside the building, so I’ve emailed the agent to see if they’d allow me in with my camera. If they do, I’ll share what I find with you 🙂

References

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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Now a convenient shortcut for anyone using the Treforest Industrial Estate Railway Station on the old Taff Vale Railway line (modern-day Valley Lines service), this bridge used to carry a railway siding south from the Upper Boat Power Station into factories on the industrial estate.

I used to think that this was a surviving relic of the old Cardiff Railway, but sadly that just isn’t true; Cardiff Railway remained on the eastern bank of the River Taff (with a station where the Focus DIY store now is at Upper Boat) before finally crossing the Taff over the impressive (but sadly doomed) Rhydefelin Viaduct.

Even so, this bridge is one of the most impressive survivors in the area, and it definitely deserves a feature all of its own.

The Photos

The View Most People See

This is how most people see the bridge, as an essential short-cut across the Taff to and from the nearby railway station.

Admiring The Structure Of The Bridge

If you do find yourself crossing this bridge, I urge you to stop for a few moments to admire it. It is one of the few surviving structures from its time. The railway siding that it carried, and the power station and factories that used to sit at either end of this siding are long gone.

It Needs A Lick Of Paint

As this close-up of the bridge’s structure shows, it could do with a lick of paint to preserve it from the elements for a bit longer.

Wooden Flooring Along The Bridge

The old trackbed is long gone, replaced by this wooden boarding. Be careful in wet and icy weather; I’ve slipped and slided my way from one end of the bridge to the other on more than one occasion!

The Bridge From Upstream

Taken from upstream, looking south west along the River Taff to the bridge. Doesn’t it just look fine? I don’t think you’ll find another one like it anywhere else along the length of the Taff.

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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Windows Of The Coal Exchange

Mount Stuart Square, a designated conservation area since 1980, is home to something like 60 listed buildings. Some of these listed buildings are considered landmark buildings; some are not.

The crown jewel of Mount Stuart Square is the Coal Exchange, where the world’s first 1 million pound business transaction was conducted. Today, it’s a multi-purpose building, and a walk around the outside of it reveals that it has seen better times. These windows, at pavement level on the western side, suggest that not all of the building has faired well since the docks closed in the 1960’s … but don’t they make you curious about what’s inside? They sure make me curious!

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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Port Authority Building, Cardiff Bay

Look at any old photo of Cardiff’s docks in their heyday, and there are two constants to be seen. One is the railway station at the southern end of the Taff Vale Railway (TVR), which today is the Cardiff Bay railway station. The other is the Pierhead Building, former home to the Bute Dock Company (later renamed to the Cardiff Railway Company), and it provides a fantastic point of reference to help us see how the land around it has been utterly transformed since the height of the docks.

Built in 1897, the Pierhead Building was commissioned to be the new headquarters of the Bute Dock Company. Today, it is part of the estate of the Welsh Assembly, and serves a dual-purpose role of public museum and events venue.

I haven’t visited the museum since it opened in March, 2010 yet, but I will do so shortly. It’s my growing hypothesis that Cardiff-based exhibitions tend to downplay the debt that the city owes to the exploitation of the natural resources of the valleys (which have been left economically devastated in the post-industrial world), and I’m very curious to see what this exhibition says on the matter.

References

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

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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

Heath Low Level Railway Station

Taken from the platform, looking north towards where the Coryton Line starts to make its turn west to Ty Glas Railway Station and beyond.

Heath Low Level Railway Station

Looking south along Heath Low Level Railway Station’s platform. The station is approached through a little alleyway between houses, and is the only one of the Coryton Line stations that does not have the familiar red-and-white railway station sign outside it.

Heath Low Level Railway Station

At its southern end, the railway quickly disappears beneath this road bridge before joining the main Cardiff to Caerphilly line.

Heath Low Level Railway Station

The single best view of Heath Low Level station is from the road bridge. From here, you can clearly see the housing that backs onto the station.

Public Telephone At Heath Low Level Station

For me, Heath Low Level wasn’t just the last of the stations I explored along the Coryton Line, it also contained by far the single most interesting photo to take. This public telephone can be found in the brick shelter at the station. I didn’t check to see if it worked, though.

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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