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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United Services Mess

When I walked past this, I fell in love with the lovely deep blue paintwork in contrast with the very clean brass work.

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

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Whatever You Do, Don't Blink

A litte bit of fun with statues and depth of field inspired by the new Doctor Who (which is filmed out of South Wales) and writer Stephen Moffatt’s best creation, the angel statues from the Hugo Award-winning episode ‘Blink‘.

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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Setting Off On An Adventure

Whilst out looking for a suitable photo for Guardian Cardiff’s July photography challenge, I spotted these three folks hauling their luggage along the road (presumably heading to Cardiff Railway Station).

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

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Shipping Federation Limited

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 gems like this fading sign for the Shipping Federation Limited. I haven’t had a lot of luck tracking down information about this former office, but my best guess is that it was the Cardiff office of the Shipping Federation, an association of shipping owners formed in 1890 to oppose what was originally known as the National Amalgamated Sailors’ and Firemen’s Union, which became the National Union of Seamen before it was swallowed up by the RMT in 1990.

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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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

Ty Glas Railway Station

Taken from the bridge that carries the A469 over the Coryton Line. Looking east towards Ty Glas Railway Station.

Ty Glas Railway Station

Looking west to Ty Glas Railway Station. Taken from the gate to the pedestrian crossing at the eastern end of the station.

Ty Glas Railway Station

Looking east along the Coryton Line. In the distance the track finally abandons its straight march across the north of Cardiff and starts to turn to the south, towards Heath Low Level Railway Station and beyond to Cardiff Queen Street.

Ty Glas Railway Station

Looking west, back towards Birchgrove Railway Station, which is immediately beyond the bridge in the distance.

Comms Tower Beside Ty Glas Station

This is the comms tower seen in the earlier shot to the immediate south of Ty Glas Railway Station.

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 Goat Major

At the top-end of the High Street, where the pedestrianisation work has been completed recently.

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

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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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Bench Under The Trees In Bute Park

Bute Park is a great place to escape to during your lunch hour, although even the most determined of walkers will struggle to walk the whole length of the park and make it back in time for the afternoon stint behind a desk. Much nicer to find one of the benches dotted around the park to simply sit, break out the sandwiches, and recharge for a few minutes before heading back to the rat race.

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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