Empire 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 ones which is listed is Empire House, designed by Percy Thomas. It was originally built for Evans & Reid Coal Company, one of the exporters who exported coal out through Cardiff Docks. It was built in 1926.

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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Former Bank In Mount Stuart Square

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 those which isn’t is this building, No 1 Mount Stuart Square. Unfortunately, I haven’t managed to track down online what bank this originally was. If you happen to know, please leave a comment below!

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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My wife and I recently went back to Margam Country Park in late spring as the perfect place to go with the cameras for a local day out. In the end, my knee only lasted a couple of hours sadly, but I still managed to come away with a few interesting photos to share.

The Photos

Capel Mair ar y Bryn

This is the chapel of St Mary on the hill, which was built as part of Margam Abbey. The abbey itself was founded in 1147, and was in use until King Henry VIII dissolved it in 1536.

Bench At Margam Park

If anyone nicks this bench for their back yard, at least their visitors will know where it originally came from!

Entrance To Margam Abbey

Only the nave of Margam Abbey survives today, and it is still in use as the local parish church.

Chapter House Ruins

The ruins of Margam Abbey include this impressive 12-side chapter house. Chapter houses were used as meeting rooms, where the abbot and all his monks would gather to discuss matters concerning the monastery and its inhabitants.

Ruins Outside The Orangery

Margam Country Park boasts an Orangery completed in 1793 (making it one of the oldest buildings in South Wales that is still in use today). Just to the east of the Orangery lies these ruins with its vaulted ceiling.

Beware Of Falling Masonry

Although they look stable enough, and on a sunny (or a wet!) day offer the temptation of shelter, for safety reasons they are in fact fenced off with suitable warning signs.

Green Leaves

My wife loves to visit Margam just to say hello to the trees, and when the sun shines the canopy lights up in the most beautiful of ways.

Tree Roots

I can’t explain why, but my eyes were drawn to the roots of this tree standing just to the south of the Orangery. Maybe it was the textures, or the contrasts of colour, or the contrasts of light and shadow. Whatever the reasons, I think it makes for an interesting photo, and will probably feature in my Daily Desktop Wallpaper series at some point!

Previous Visit To Margam

My last visit to Margam Country Park was in October 2008, as my very first WelshFlickrCymru meet-up. We spent the whole day there, and I hope you enjoy the photos I took last time too.

Through The Arches

The Tree By The Abbey

Peering At The Cloisters

The Tree By The Abbey

The Fun House

The Path By The Gum Tree

Sculptures Grazing - Landscape

Sculptures Grazing - Portrait

The Gum Tree

The Seat Under The Gum Tree

The Flowers Of The Gum Tree

The Bee and the Gum Tree

The Gum Tree

The Orangery, Margam House

The Cry

The Chapel On The Hill

Margam House From The Chapel

Port Talbot Panorama

Margam House Through The Window

Monopod Head

Margam House

Deer Foraging For Food

Two Deer Foraging For Food

Deer Feeding

Deer Silhouette

Looking East Through The Trees

Looking West Through The Trees

The Unusual Pit On The Hill

Robin Looking Down

Margam House

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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In 1858, the Rhymney Railway opened a branch route which ran from the Taff Vale Railway (modern Valley Lines route) at Walnut Tree Junction (modern Taffs Well station) up and over the Glamorganshire Canal to Penrhos Cutting, where it was joined by the Barry Railway and the Pontypridd, Caerphilly and Newport Railway. It survived the construction of the A470 trunk road, and was in use up until 1984, long after the railroad had constructed the Caerphilly Tunnel in 1871 to provide a much more direct route between the eastern valleys and Cardiff.

Today, it forms a section of the Taff Trail, a national cycle path (route 8) that runs from Cardiff Bay in the south all the way north to Brecon in the heart of the Brecon Beacons.

The Photos

Plenty of Lamp Posts at Taffs Well

The Rhymney Railway route starts at Taffs Well railway station, with the magnificant Garth behind it. The Garth, with its three distinctive barrows, dominates the skyline looking north from Cardiff.

Half a Mile to Tongwynlais

At the start of this section of the Taff Trail, if instead you want to head south towards Cardiff (a route which threads its way through Tongwynlais and then largely follows the River Taff), you can pick up refreshments in the village of Taffs Well if you need them. Just cross the railway by the nearby bridge.

If you’re heading north along the Rhymney Railway and then either up Penrhos Cutting to Caerphilly or along the Pontypridd, Newport and Caerphilly railway route up through Nantgarw, your nearest refreshments are some miles away. Stocking up first in Taffs Well might be a good idea.

Daisies Beside The Path

These lush daisies stand large and proud beside the fence at the start of the route.

Gate Guarding Cycle Route Eight

To try and keep the Taff Trail just for walkers and cyclists, the route is guarded by gates such as this one. They do break up leisure cycling a bit, as it’s much safer to dismount to navigate, but they seem a reasonable compromise to stop dirt bikers abusing the trail.

All Quiet On The A470

The route crosses the major A470 trunk road over a distinctive railway bridge. I don’t know for certain, but I’m willing to bet that this bridge is modern and was constructed when the A470 was built in 1969/1970.

Note how the A470 was empty when I took this shot. I commute up and down this road every weekday, and traffic levels have been (relatively) low for several months. Several years ago, it wasn’t unusual on a morning for this stretch to be completely stuffed with queueing traffic.

Rhymney Railway Bridge Over The A470

This is what the view is like along the bridge … wide and flat, with just the offensive graffiti for company.

Central Divider

Almost immediately beyond the bridge over the A470, the former Rhymney Railway section of the Taff Trail crosses a much older bridge, which originally went over the Cardiff Railway. The trackbed over the bridge has been tarmaced over, but this central divider with its metal studs (rivets) remains a major feature.

Bridge Over The Cardiff Railway

There’s hardly anything left of the Cardiff Railway in the immediate vicinity, as much of it was obliterated by the construction of the A470. There’s the Cardiff Railway stretch between Coryton and Longwood Drive that I’ve covered before, and also a stretch through Taffs Well that I haven’t yet written up … but in between, I think this bridge that carried the Rhymney Railway over the Cardiff Railway is about the only bit of the Cardiff Railway that still exists.

Gate Across The Trail

Aways beyond the bridge over the Cardiff Railway, a padlocked gate stands across the route. There’s one of the usual cycle gates beside it (so that cyclists and walkers can use the route as normal).

Alleyway and Gate

This section of the Taff Trail is crossed in places by alleyways that disappear into housing estates in one direction, and up the hill (presumably to the other Taff Trail along the old Barry Railway – yes, there are two Taff Trails running in parallel here!). Metal gates bar them to prevent non-walkers and non-cyclists from abusing the route.

It would be interesting to dig out some old maps to see whether any of these were here (as public footpaths) back when the railway was in existence.

Tree in Abstract

The Rhymney Railway section of the Taff Trail is very green this time of year – almost monotonously so. Occasional breaks of light like this provide interesting contrasts.

Tree in Abstract

The contrast of shade and well-lit trees beyond can make for eye-catching scenes such as this … but I imagine that if you’re cycling rather than walking, you’d probably miss them as you whizz by.

Sign in the Undergrowth

Does anyone know what this sign might be? I spotted it half-buried in the undergrowth along the route. Is it a left-over from when the railway was here, or something unrelated?

Rusting Post

I’ve no idea what this metal post’s original function was. It stands by the route, and is happily rusting away. If you can shed some light onto this, please leave a comment below.

Rusting Post Up Close

I’m a bit of a sucker for textures, especially when they contrast with a soft background like this one does.

Posts Beside The Rhymney Railway

Here are some old posts (I’m guessing they were railway fence posts from back in the day) standing beside the Taff Trail as it runs along the route of the former Rhymney Railway. As you can see, this particular stretch is long, straight, and very green, with not a lot to see.

The Two Taff Trails Merge

Not far from the start of Penrhos Cutting, the other Taff Trail route (which runs along the old Barry Railway line that used to go over Walnut Tree Viaduct) joins the Rhymney Railway route. I’m planning on covering the other Taff Trail route at a later date.

Bathed In Sunlight

When you get to Penrhos Cutting, the trail goes under this bridge. I’ll talk about the bridge more in the next photo.

What you’re seeing isn’t rain. It was a very dry, very sunny day, and when I angled my Nikon D300s up towards the sun, these strange streaks of purple light appeared on the image. I think it looks better as black and white, but if anyone really wants me to, I’ll upload the colour original for you to see for yourself.

Bridge At Penrhos Cutting

A little saner than my last shot, here’s the bridge at Penrhos Cutting that the Taff Trail goes under before its climb up Nantgarw Hill. It doesn’t take a lot to imagine local boys standing up on the bridge, waiting to be engulfed as a steam train huffs and puffs its way up the valley from Walnut Tree Junction. Maybe the driver blew the train’s whistle for them as his train passed by.

It’s a romanticism that our modern railways, with their sealed carriages and grumbling motors, simply can’t compete with. Who knows … when oil finally starts to run out, maybe we’ll all be forced back to a second age of steam?

Two Miles To Caerffili

At the foot of Penrhos Cutting, the intrepid explorer has a choice. He can continue along the Taff Trail (cycle route 8) to Nantgarw and on to Pontypridd, or he can continue to follow the old Rhymney Railway line up Nantgarw Hill and into Penrhos Cutting.

Entrance To Penrhos Cutting

If you leave the Taff Trail and decide to continue to follow the Rhymney Railway route up Nantgarw Hill instead, this takes you into Penrhos Cutting and on to Caerphilly. At the far end of the cutting (approx 2 miles) stands Penrhos Junction, which I’ll cover at a later date.

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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Restored Bridge At Taffs Well

This footbridge over the River Taff between Taffs Well and Gwaelod-y-Garth has recently been renovated and restored into a fantastic condition.

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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Walnut Tree Viaduct

One of the surviving pillars (the one you can see from the A470) of the Walnut Tree Viaduct, reflected in the River Taff.

Built in 1901, the Walnut Tree Viaduct (so-called because it crossed the Taff Vale Railway above Walnut Tree Junction, at the southern end of modern-day Taffs Well) carried the Barry Railway 120 feet in the air across the Taff Gap from the Lesser Garth to the other side. What a view it must have been from up there, and certainly what a sight it was until it was dismantled in 1969.

References:

http://webapps.rhondda-cynon-taff.gov.uk/heritagetrail/taff/taffs_well/taffs_well.htm
http://www.flickr.com/photos/fray_bentos/362362405/

Copyright (c) 2010 Stuart Herbert. blog | twitter: (photography) (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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Cardiff Clock Tower and Trees

Cardiff’s magnificent civic centre, at Cathays Park, is built on land sold to the city of Cardiff in 1898 (Cardiff was not a city at the time). Perhaps its most distinctive feature is the Clock Tower atop City Hall, completed in 1904 (the year Cardiff was granted city status).

Today, the clock tower isn’t just a popular subject for passing photographers. It’s also very popular with wildlife enthusiasts, as a pair of peregrine falcons have made the tower their home. Wander past, and you’re likely to see groups with their cameras and binoculars trained on the tower in the hope of catching a sight of these magnificent predators.

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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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 Maltsters Arms is a public house in Pontypridd known to date back to at least 1858. It is believed to sit on the site of the original earthen house from which Pontypridd takes its welsh name (Pont-y-tŷ-pridd – the bridge by the earthen house).

Maltsters Arms

Maltsters Arms

My strong memory of the Maltsters Arms is walking by over the bridge on an evening and hearing the live music that is often being performed down in its cellar room. The cellar room opens out onto a stone patio beside the River Taff.

References:

http://www.genuki.org.uk/big/wal/GLA/LlantwitFardre/Slaters-Pontypridd.html
http://wikitravel.org/en/Pontypridd

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

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East Canal Wharf

From 1794 through to at least 1951, this was the East Canal Wharf of the Glamorganshire Canal.

In the foreground runs the GWR railway (the main Swansea to London line still in major use today), built by 1850 by the South Wales Railway Company, which would have had to have bridged the canal at this point.

The red brick building in the top-right is the remains of the York Hotel, which adjoins Custom House, once the administrative home of the Glamorganshire Canal when operations were moved from Navigation House in Navigation (modern-day Abercynon).

Behind where I’m stood today is Callahan Square, but in the past this would have been the wharfs that stretched all the way down to the River Taff over a mile away: Sea Lock Pond, the first of Cardiff’s great docks.

You can clearly see in this photo how the road under the GWR bridge has to drop for cars and buses to fit underneath. My guess is that the clearance was a lot less when this was still canal!

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