Project: Merthyr Road

Posted by Stuart Herbert on June 2nd, 2007

Merthyr Road is a photographic project exploring the history and the legacy of the industrialisation of the South Wales Valleys.

Where else in the world will you find the world’s oldest railway bridge, or the route of the world’s first railway journey? This was where the world’s first 1 million business deal was done, and where the chains for the SS Great Britain were made. It was where Isambard Kingdom Brunel left magnificent bridges to carry one of the busiest freight railways of its day that are still in use today. The largest tin works in the world – not just one, but two of them – processed ore brought down from the iron capital of the world by an amazing canal that has been largely erased from both memory and the landscape. The mines brought wealth and great tragedy in equal measure, and five private railways criss-crossed the valley on their way to battle to carry the coal sought the world over as a military advantage. Huge docks were dug out of the marshes to berth the ships that carried the coal over the horizon, and then abandoned in the 1960’s to their fate. Radio was transmitted over open water for the first time just along the coast from here. A marshland became home to people from around the world, and the wealth of a family was used to create magnificant parks, an amazing civic centre, and a fairytale castle folly guarding the pass to the north. It has given the world the national anthem of Wales, and two of the world’s most celebrated singers in Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones. The pioneer of cremation in the UK worked here, and he left magnificant round houses and the druids’ Rocking Stone. It is now home to the National Assembly for Wales, the international arts centre the Millenium Centre, and renowned sports stadium and concert venue the Millenium Stadium.

From the mouth of the River Taff at Cardiff Docks, up through the Taff Gap (also known as the Garth Gap) opening up into the Taff Vale, and then the Taff Valley north from Pontypridd to Merthyr Tydfil, there’s a rich heritage to be explored and seen from an industrial age reaching back to the 1700’s and earlier. But time is running out, as modern developments continue to erase all traces of what was once the most important industrial area in the whole world.

This is Merthyr Road, the route travelled by river, turnpike, canal, railway and now the A470 and A4054 roads. It is largely unprotected, unacknowledged, and unknown to tourists and locals alike. Through this project, I hope to play a small part in changing that. I’m not aiming to create a definitive history of the area, although I hope one day someone will. I’m just looking to capture some of the hidden wonders of this remarkable place before they are gone forever, and some of the new things that are being added in modern times.

Although I hope you find this project useful, my intended audience is one that hasn’t yet been born. Just as the industrial world of the late 1700’s through to the 1960’s has largely been erased from the landscape by the modern world, so inevitably one day the world that we know and take for granted will also disappear. That’s why many of the photos are geo-tagged with GPS co-ordinates to ensure that no matter what comes and goes in the future, people will still be able to find these locations and imagine what they once would have looked like, just as I do today.

The Photographs

The Merthyr Road project has published these articles so far (including the Single Shot Series of stand-alone photographs) since it began in January 2007 :

0-9

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

H

J

K

L

M

N

P

R

S

T

U

V

W

Y

If you want to take a sneak peak at the photos for upcoming articles, you’ll find them online in my Flickr stream.

How You Can Follow This Project

If you want to know when new articles are added to the project, here’s how you can keep in touch:

There is a Facebook page for the project too, but right now I’m finding that it takes too much time to keep it regularly up to date.

How You Can Get Involved

There are a number of ways you can join in the Merthyr Road project:

  • Do you know something about one of the subjects in the articles? If you do, please add a comment to the article to share what you know.
  • Do you know of some interesting post-industrial place that I haven’t yet photographed for this project? If you do, please drop me an email at stuart (at) stuartherbert.com.
  • Would you like to join in, and create articles for this project? All you need are a camera, a keen eye, and a passion for uncovering local history today and tomorrow.

Your feedback is always much appreciated.

34 Comments

  1. Stuart’s Photography - » Upcoming Articles List Now On The Project Page says:
    March 28th, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    […] Project: Merthyr Road […]

  2. Stuart’s Photography - » Single Shot Series: Past, Present and Future In Cardiff says:
    June 19th, 2007 at 7:42 am

    […] Project: Merthyr Road […]

  3. Bill Stace says:
    May 12th, 2008 at 4:41 pm

    Hi Stuart

    Sorry to be a pain, but I need some advice about cameras – the weight of them to be more precise. I notice that you use a Nikon D200 and the 18-135 lens. I have a Nikon D50 with the Nikkor 18-135 lens, and I am now fortunate enough to have got agreement from my wife that we can now afford for me to upgrade, but it has been made clear that this is a one-off exercice for the next 10 years, so the next purchase has to be absolutely right!

    I was thinking D300 (I like Nikon) and the lens, but the only couple of things that put me off are the lack of vibration reduction if I use the 18-135 lens, and the weight of the camera plus lens. Do you find your D200 (which is about the same weight as the D300) and the lens to be a bit heavy – particularly when trecking though undergrowth etc? Is your wife able to use it without complaint. I was also considering the Sony Alpha 700 plus Carl Zeiss lens combination which is lighter, and also has vibration reduction built in, but has a smaller zoom.

    I’m not asking for a recommendation, just the benefit of your experience which I can weigh up with other factors
    Having said all this some of your recent pictures are really really good and the call of the D300 is very strong.

    Cheers

    Bill

  4. Stuart Herbert says:
    May 13th, 2008 at 5:29 am

    Hi Bill,

    I find the weight and grip of the D200 to be very comfortable indeed. I’m normally out and about with the camera for 5-6 hours at a time, carrying the camera one-handed (I don’t use a neck strap), and the only problem I sometimes get is a bit of cramp from not flexing the right hand enough.

    By all accounts, the Sony Alpha 700 is also an excellent camera, but I’m sticking with Nikon because I find the D200 so easy to handle.

    Hope that helps,
    Stu

  5. Stuart’s Photography - » Photos Still Being Taken, Queue Getting Longer :) says:
    April 15th, 2009 at 8:31 pm

    […] Project: Merthyr Road […]

  6. Stuart’s Photography - » How To Geotag Your Photos If You Use A Nikon Digital SLR says:
    May 11th, 2010 at 6:35 am

    […] Project: Merthyr Road […]

  7. Local Sites: Passionate About South Wales | Stuart's Photography says:
    June 9th, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    […] Project: Merthyr Road […]

  8. Cardiff City Hall At Dawn | Cardifferent says:
    March 21st, 2011 at 12:35 am

    […] Dawn Image by Stuart Herbert Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | […]

  9. Chiropractic Neck Adjustment | Donald Corenman, MD | Colorado Back Surgeon says:
    March 23rd, 2011 at 7:03 pm

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

  10. Nice Audition Musicians photos - Open Auditions for Musicians says:
    April 12th, 2011 at 2:48 pm

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

  11. Nice klíčové slovo fotografie | uverzdarma.cz says:
    April 13th, 2011 at 11:23 am

    […] = 2865 & a. .. Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebooku Fotografie: Merthyr Road | Denní Tapety na plochu | 25×9 | Twitter .Chcete se dozvědět více o této […]

  12. Lloyd Watkin says:
    April 13th, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Hey Stu,

    Excellent post and amazing project.

    I’ve been trying to get my father to do something similar to this to link his love of walking and history (and a GPS unit).

    Being from the Swansea valley myself its amazing the breadth and depth of history in south Wales that many don’t know about and isn’t being preserved. Case in point, builders have recently cleared all the growth away from the site of what was one of the largest tinplate works in the world just outside Ystalyfera, fascinating for a walk around (and probably good for some photos too).

    Lloyd

  13. Nice Latest News Wales photos | UK News says:
    April 14th, 2011 at 4:39 pm

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

  14. Past, Present and Future In Cardiff | Cardifferent says:
    April 21st, 2011 at 10:31 pm

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

  15. Nice Map Of Europe photos | Netherlands Expat says:
    April 23rd, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    […] (c) royalty Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | […]

  16. The Waterway of Atlantic Wharf | Netherlands Expat says:
    April 25th, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    […] to undergo more? Read the accompanying journal entry as conception of my Merthyr Road […]

  17. Flexible Office Space at the Coal Exchange says:
    June 12th, 2011 at 1:26 pm

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

  18. Cool Barmouth images – British Holidays says:
    July 16th, 2011 at 6:43 pm

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

  19. The Millennium Centre, Cardiff | iSaw.co.uk says:
    July 22nd, 2011 at 7:31 am

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

  20. Nice Bird Watching Blog photos | Bird Watching Success says:
    August 4th, 2011 at 10:53 pm

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

  21. The Animal Garden at St Donat’s | Wallpapers Borders says:
    August 6th, 2011 at 7:49 am

    […] It is taken from flickr.com. Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | […]

  22. Interconnecting Terraces | Wallpapers Borders says:
    August 7th, 2011 at 8:07 am

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

  23. The Pattern of Leaves | Wallpapers Borders says:
    August 7th, 2011 at 1:33 pm

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

  24. The Colours Of The Drapes | Wallpapers Borders says:
    August 7th, 2011 at 1:51 pm

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

  25. The Animal Garden | Wallpapers Borders says:
    August 7th, 2011 at 8:51 pm

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

  26. The Canvas Of The Pavilion | Wallpapers Borders says:
    August 7th, 2011 at 10:54 pm

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

  27. What’s Through The Window? | Wallpapers Borders says:
    August 8th, 2011 at 12:05 am

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

  28. Royal Border Bridge, Berwick upon Tweed | Wallpapers Borders says:
    August 8th, 2011 at 10:02 am

    […] It is taken from flickr.com. Copyright (c) Stuart Herbert. Blog | Twitter | Facebook Photography: Merthyr Road | Daily Desktop Wallpaper | 25×9 | […]

  29. A Blue Tent For A Blue Garden | Wallpapers Borders says:
    August 11th, 2011 at 4:21 am

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

  30. Beneath Whitby breakwater | Ilkley Net says:
    April 18th, 2012 at 7:13 pm

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

  31. Inception Quadcopter Design | DroneGadget says:
    February 5th, 2014 at 4:31 am

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

  32. “Cardiff owes a debt to its industrial history” – Stuart | We Are Cardiff says:
    February 9th, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    […] If you want to learn more about this industrial history, then I highly recommend reading the excellent two-volume set “The Glamorganshire and Aberdare Canal”, by Stephen Rowson and Ian L. Wright, available from Black Dwarf Lightmoor. You can also see some of my own writings about this at my Merthyr Road photography project. […]

  33. Inception Quadcopter Separation | DroneGadget says:
    February 11th, 2014 at 3:26 am

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

  34. Inception Quadcopter Takes To The Air | DroneGadget says:
    February 11th, 2014 at 3:26 am

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

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