Ely Valley Railway

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The Ely Valley Railway (EVR) was a small railway in south Wales, which was originally operated as part of the Great Western Railway (GWR) system and later absorbed by that company. Associated with it were the Ely Valley Extension Railway and the Ely and Clydach Valleys Railway, which were separate companies but operated by the GWR as extensions to the EVR.


A 1903 Railway Clearing House Junction Diagram showing (left) railways in the vicinity of Llantrisant, including the southern end of the EVR and the Brofiskin branch
Ely Valley Railway
Gilfach Goch
Blaen Clydach
Clydach Vale
(Left arrow GWR to Blackmill)
Cilely Colliery
Gellyrhaidd Junction
Coed Ely
Common Junction (L&TVJR Right arrow)
(L&TVJR to Cross Inn UpperRight arrow)
Maesaraul Junction
Mwyndy Junction
Llantrisant locomotive depot
Brofiskin Siding
Llantrisant(Left arrow SWR Right arrow)
(Down arrow Cowbridge Railway)

The South Wales Railway (SWR), a broad gauge line allied to the Great Western Railway (GWR), opened its first section between Chepstow and Swansea on 18 June 1850.[1] This line ran through Llantrisant railway station, which is now known as Pontyclun. To the north of the line were rich coalfields, and a number of independent railway companies were formed in order to exploit the mines that were being sunk.

The Ely Valley Railway (EVR) was a mineral line authorised on 13 July 1857 to serve the collieries of the Ely Valley.[2][3] The first section of the line, between Llantrisant and Tonyrefail, opened on 2 August 1860.[4] It was 4 miles 77 chains (8.0 km) long,[4] and was worked by the GWR.[5] At Tonyrefail was the Cilely Colliery, which was purchased by the GWR to supply coal for its locomotives.[6]

The EVR was built to the 7 ft (2,134 mm) broad gauge,[4] but in 1860 it sought powers to convert the line to 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge, for which it would also need a standard gauge route to the docks at Cardiff. Initially intending to build their own line from Llantrisant to Cardiff, which would thus be in competition with the SWR, the plans were changed when the SWR offered to alter its line between Cardiff and Llantrisant to mixed gauge, so that trains of both gauges could run on the same line. The GWR, which had a large investment in the SWR and operated all of its trains, refused to allow this, and so the EVR gauge conversion plans fell through.[7] The GWR took out a 999-year lease of the EVR in July 1861,[5] and the SWR amalgamated with the GWR on 1 January 1862.[4] A week later on 8 January, the EVR opened some branches: the branch from Mwyndy Junction to Brofiskin was 2 miles 63 chains (4.5 km) long; and the branch to Gellyrhaidd was 1 mi 24 chains (2.1 km).[8] In December that year, the EVR line was extended 2 mi 10 chains (3.4 km) from Tonyrefail to Penygraig.[8]

All the EVR lines had been built to the broad gauge to suit the SWR with which it connected at Llantrisant, and the GWR which operated the trains. The Llantrisant and Taff Vale Junction Railway (L&TVJ), which opened in December 1863,[9] connected to the Brofiskin branch at Maesaraul Junction; in order for the L&TVJ to reach Llantrisant, the 3 miles 28 chains (5.4 km) of line between Llantrisant and Brofiskin was altered to mixed gauge on 5 December 1864.[10]

Over the weekend of 11–13 May 1872, the EVR was converted to standard gauge;[11] the necessary powers had been obtained on their behalf by the GWR a few years earlier.[12] In addition to the mixed-gauge section to Brofiskin, there were 7 miles 66 chains (12.6 km) of purely broad-gauge line to convert; the small EVR system thus totalling 11 mi 14 chains (18.0 km) of route, all single track.[11] The former SWR line through Llantrisant was converted to standard gauge at the same time.[13]

The section between Llantrisant and Penygraig was opened for passenger trains on 1 May 1901.[14] There were stations at Tonyrefail[15] and Penygraig.[16]

The EVR was absorbed by the GWR in 1903; the EVR shareholders received £120 of GWR 5% Guaranteed stock for every £100 of EVR Consolidated stock that they held.[6]

A third passenger station, at Coed Ely, was opened on 13 July 1925.[17]

The passenger service was withdrawn by British Railways on 9 May 1958.[15][16][17] Goods services continued until 12 October 1964.[2]

Llantrisant locomotive depot[edit]

There was a locomotive depot at Llantrisant. The original EVR depot was close to the station, but in 1900 this was replaced by a new depot on the eastern side of the line between the station and Mwyndy Junction; this was built to the specifications of William Dean, the GWR Locomotive Superintendent. The stone-built locomotive shed measured 50 by 125 feet (15 m × 38 m); it had a northlight roof, and contained three tracks for the stabling of locomotives. Alongside this were the depot offices, measuring 15 ft × 45 ft (4.6 m × 13.7 m), and the stores, measuring 15 ft × 80 ft (4.6 m × 24.4 m). The coal stage measured 30 ft × 16 ft (9.1 m × 4.9 m) and also carried a water tank with a capacity of 22,500 imperial gallons (102,000 l). There was also a turntable, a sand drier and some sidings. Access to the depot complex was provided at both ends, although locomotives could not run direct from the station to Mwyndy Junction via the depot without a double reversal.[18]

Like Tondu depot to the west, Llantrisant depot was within the Newport division, so locomotives requiring attention which was beyond the capabilities of their equipment would be sent to Ebbw Junction depot at Newport, which was the main shed for the division.[19] In the 1910s, the GWR introduced depot codes, and Llantrisant was coded "LTS"; these letters were painted on the locomotives, at first inside the cab, but later on towards the front of the locomotive on the framing.[20] A separate code for accountancy purposes was introduced in 1932, and under this system, Llantrisant depot was no. 86; the last digit "6" denoting the Newport division.[21] In February 1950, British Railways decided to use the depot coding method of the former London, Midland and Scottish Railway, and so Llantrisant was allocated code 86D, the figures 86 denoting the Newport division.[22] This was altered to 88G in October 1960, the figures 88 denoting the Cardiff division; the main depot for the division becoming Cardiff (Canton) at the same time.[23][24]

In January 1938, there were 23 locomotives allocated to Llantrisant;[25] at the end of 1947, 15 steam locomotives were allocated there, plus one Diesel railcar;[18] there were 19 in 1950, and 16 in 1959.[26] Locomotive classes allocated to the shed included members of the 455 class (2-4-0T), the 1400 class (0-4-2T), the 4200 class (2-8-0T) and the 5700 class (0-6-0PT).[18][26] In addition to these, there was no. 1205, a former Alexandra Docks & Railway 2-6-2T built in 1920, which was used as the Llantrisant shed pilot.[27] The depot closed in October 1964.[18]

Ely Valley Extension Railway[edit]

The EVR branch to Gellyrhaidd was extended to Gilfach Goch by a separate company, the Ely Valley Extension Railway (EVEx), another mineral line, which was authorised on 28 July 1863.[28][2] It was 2 miles 36 chains (3.9 km) long, built to the broad gauge, and it opened on 16 October 1865.[10] There were two passenger stations on the line, at Hendreforgan and Gilfach. Prior to opening, the EVEx amalgamated with the Ogmore Valley Railway (OVR),[2] a standard gauge line between Nantymoel and Tondu, which opened on 1 August 1865.[29] There was no physical connection between the EVEx and the OVR at first; the GWR worked the EVEx line as part of the EVR. The OVR amalgamated with the Llynvi Valley Railway on 1 July 1866 to form the Llynvi and Ogmore Railway (L&OR).[30]

The EVEx line was converted to standard gauge between 11 and 13 May 1872.[31] The L&OR was absorbed by the GWR on 1 July 1873,[32] and the GWR built the connecting line between the former OVR system at Blackmill and the EVEx at Hendreforgan;[28] it opened on 1 September 1875, and was 3 miles 30 chains (5.4 km) long.[33]

The passenger service was suspended between 5 March and 26 March 1928, and withdrawn permanently on 22 September 1930.[34] Goods services continued until 5 June 1961.[2]

Ely and Clydach Valleys Railway[edit]

The Ely and Clydach Valleys Railway was a northwards extension of the original EVR line, from Penygraig to Blaen Clydach. This was 1 mile 68 chains (3.0 km) in length; it was authorised on 5 August 1873 and opened on 10 August 1878,[35][2] and was always a freight-only line. It was absorbed by the GWR on 6 August 1880.[2]


  1. ^ MacDermot 1927, p. 865.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Awdry 1990, p. 26.
  3. ^ MacDermot 1927, pp. 438,580.
  4. ^ a b c d MacDermot 1927, p. 861.
  5. ^ a b MacDermot 1927, p. 580.
  6. ^ a b MacDermot 1927, p. 438.
  7. ^ MacDermot 1927, p. 581.
  8. ^ a b MacDermot 1927, p. 862.
  9. ^ Awdry 1990, p. 32.
  10. ^ a b MacDermot 1931, p. 596.
  11. ^ a b MacDermot 1931, pp. 64,598.
  12. ^ MacDermot 1931, p. 47.
  13. ^ MacDermot 1931, p. 598.
  14. ^ MacDermot 1931, p. 609.
  15. ^ a b Butt 1995, p. 231.
  16. ^ a b Butt 1995, p. 184.
  17. ^ a b Butt 1995, p. 65.
  18. ^ a b c d Lyons 1974, p. 190.
  19. ^ Sterndale et al. 1974, p. M24.
  20. ^ Sterndale et al. 1974, pp. M23,M24,M28.
  21. ^ Sterndale et al. 1974, pp. M26,M29.
  22. ^ Sterndale et al. 1974, pp. M29,M31.
  23. ^ Bolger 1983, pp. 79,82.
  24. ^ Teal 1985, pp. 31,32.
  25. ^ Sterndale et al. 1974, p. M29.
  26. ^ a b Bolger 1983, p. 82.
  27. ^ Davies et al. 1966, pp. K21,K22.
  28. ^ a b MacDermot 1931, p. 83.
  29. ^ MacDermot 1931, pp. 82–83,616.
  30. ^ MacDermot 1931, p. 616.
  31. ^ MacDermot 1931, pp. 83,598.
  32. ^ MacDermot 1931, p. 599.
  33. ^ MacDermot 1931, p. 601.
  34. ^ Butt 1995, p. 118,102.
  35. ^ MacDermot 1931, p. 602.


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