Blaenavon Heritage Railway
Garn yr Erw
N51.778231 W3.110810 (Station location)
The Pontypool & Blaenavon Railway is a heritage line of about 2 miles in length near the town of Blaenavon in Wales. The workshops and terminal station are located at Furnace Sidings. The area around Blaenavon was designated a World Heritage Site as iron works opened there in 1788. This was shortly followed by the coal mining and steel making industries. The Big Pit National Coal Museum lies near Furnace Sidings and offers underground tours to visitors. Unfortunately it was closed due to a strike by the Public and Commercial Services Union during June 2016. Located near the center of Blaenavon substantial remains of the very old Blaenavon Ironworks are also open to visitors. Iron working in the area might just account for the origin of the name Furnace Sidings. Trains depart northwest from Furnace Sidings to the Whistle Inn Halt then reverse back past Furnace Sidings to Blaenavon High Level station. After a loco uses the run-around track the train will return to Furnace Sidings station. End-of-track lies just a few hundred yards southeast at Coed Avon. There are also two tracks from Furnace Sidings which lead to a halt at the Big Pit National Coal Museum. One branches off the mainline at Furnace Sidings while the second leaves Furnace Sidings and crosses over the mainline on a bridge ending at a bumping post parallel to Big Pit halt.
The current Pontypool & Blaenavon heritage railway operates over the original right-of-way of the the Brynmawr & Blaenavon Railway completed in 1869. It was immediately leased by the London & North Western Railway (LNWR) to transport coal to the Midlands. By 1878 the line had been extended south through Pontypool to reach Newport and a connection with the Great Western Railway (GWR). Coal was the main commodity carried by the line but passengers were also accommodated, especially miners who worked in the collieries and pits which dotted the area. As area coal reserves became exhausted and mines closed only Big Pit remained operational until 1964. With the closure of Big Pit in 1980 the only track not lifted ended at Blaenavon High Level.
Four steam locomotives were found on the property.
0-4-0ST Rosyth No. 1, very clean and appearing freshly painted, was in service on 12 Jun 2016 pulling two coaches back and forth during the day. The engine was built in 1914 by Andrew Barclay with her last overhaul completed in 2014. A large shed located within walking distance of the Furnace Sidings station contained two other locomotives. A green liveried 0-4-0ST named Caledonia Works displayed a builder's plate labelled Andrew Barclay Sons & Co. Limited - Caledonia Works - No. 1219 1919 - Kilmarnock. Apparantly this engine is on loan from the West Somerset Railway where it was recently restored in March 2016. Next to that the larger red coloured 0-6-0ST Hunslet built Austerity Mech Nav constructed in 1944 during the Second World War also rested cold. Both locomotives are operational. Outside the shed resting in the elements along with other pieces of rolling stock was an unnamed and unidentified blue coloured 0-4-0ST named Harry minus the mainrods, obviously not operational.
17 Nov 2011 - Runaway Diesel Train Probe at Pontypool Heritage Line
4 Dec 2012 - Cwmbran Railway Station
31 Aug 2013 - Blaenavon Heritage Railway is a Top Attraction
24 Nov 2013 - Come and See Santa at Blaenavon Railway
18 May 2017 - Full Steam Ahead for The Railway Children
A Brief History of the Hunslet Engine Co.
Public and Commercial Services Union