Monmouthshire Railway and Canal Company
|Monmouthshire Railway and Canal|
The Monmouthshire Railway and Canal Company (MR&CC) built and operated the Newport and Pontypool Railway. It was known as "The Rat and Cat's".
The railway was proposed by the Monmouthshire Canal Company, whose existing canals were being threatened by competition from the new surge in railway lines. In 1845 they obtained an Act of Parliament to build a railway from Newport to Pontnewynydd, under the name "Newport and Pontypool Railway".
By 1848 it was clear that the project would not succeed, and another Act was passed to enable the Monmouthshire Railway and Canal Company to take on the work and the canal.
The line was opened between Newport and Pontypool on 30 June 1852. Engineering feats included a tunnel at Malpas, a seven-arch viaduct at Cwmynyscoy, and a 52-foot (15.8 m) iron bridge over the canal at Pontymoile. Once completed, the line was soon doubled to cope with increasing traffic demands.
Meanwhile, building commenced on a northward extension to Pontnewynydd, laid in the bed of the drained canal so that the existing bridges could be reused with little modification.
Further linkages over existing tramways were completed to Blaenavon and beyond.
Between 1848 and 1880 the Company carried coal and iron ore from the eastern South Wales Valleys to wharves along the River Usk at Newport. Locomotives №6 (1849) and №18 (1852) were built by Stothert and Slaughter Ltd. Standard wagons were introduced in 1849 with a capacity of 5 tons and wheels designed to travel on 4 ft 4 in (1,321 mm) tramway and 4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm) railway gauge. Monmouthshire canal boats carried 25–28 long tons (28.0–31.4 short tons; 25.4–28.4 t) and were 64 ft 9 in (19.74 m) by 9 ft 2 in (2.79 m), shorter and broader than boats on other canals. A large commemorative mural has been installed within the pedestrian subway system near Newport Castle.
- Newport Mill Street railway station
- Llantarnam (MR&C) railway station
- Cwmbran (MR&C) railway station
- Upper Pontnewydd railway station
- Pontrhydyrun Halt railway station
- Sebastopol railway station
- Panteg and Griffithstown railway station
- Blaendare Road Halt railway station
- Pontypool Crane Street railway station
- Pontnewynydd railway station
Passenger services to Blaenavon High Level and Brynmawr over the GWR/LNWR Talywain branch ceased in May 1941, ostensibly as a wartime economy, but the services never resumed after the end of hostilities. The passenger service to Blaenavon Low Level closed in April 1962, which was actually a year prior to the publication of the notorious Beeching Report. It was later disclosed that the opening of the new Llanwern steelworks had caused severe rail congestion in the Newport area and as a result the British Transport Commission had recommended the closure of a number of passenger services in the Monmouthshire area as an operational measure.
The line from Newport to Cwmbran closed on 27 October 1963, with traffic being switched to the Pontypool, Caerleon and Newport Railway route. The rundown in the local mining industry and the closure of a local brickworks also led to the closure of the Blaensychan and Tirpentwys lines in 1962 and 1967 respectively, and when, on 3 May 1980 the Big Pit closed, the remainder of the railway line closed with it.
A number of rail enthusiast passenger specials ran between 1968 and 1981, but as the track from Trevethin Junction to Blaenavon Low level had been lifted in the 1960s they had followed the route of the High Level line. The line was severed in the summer of 1982 when a double-decker bus ferrying day-trip passengers on a route normally only used by single-deck buses, crashed into a low bridge near Pontnewydd. Five people were killed and the bridge was demolished almost immediately afterwards.
In the summer of 1983 the remainder of the track was lifted except for a section of the northern extension of the line which is in preservation as the Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway.
Sections of the line through Cwmbran have been used as the route for the A4051 road, known as Cwmbran Drive.
- The Newport and Pontypool Railway Act, 1845
- The Newport and Pontypool Railway (Amendment) Act, 1848
- RAILSCOT entry
- Welsh Railways Research Circle article
- Pontypool and Cwmbran Branch on the Cardiffrail Website