Rhymney Railway

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The Rhymney Railway was virtually a single stretch of main line, some fifty miles in length, by which the Rhymney Valley was connected to the docks at Cardiff in the county of Glamorgan, South Wales.[1]

Rhymney Railway
Dowlais Cae Harris
Dowlais Steelworks
Zig Zag Lines Junction
Incline Top
Cwmbargoed Washery
To Brynmawr
To Dowlais High Street
Sirhowy Railway to
Nine Mile Point/Newport
To Rhydycar Junction
B&MJR to Pant
Rhymney Bridge
GWR to Aberdare
B&MJR to Fochriw
Cyfarthfa Junction
Bedlinog Pit
Troed-y-rhiw Halt
Pontygwaith Halt
Merthyr Vale Colliery
B&MJR to Bargoed
TVR to Merthyr
B&MJR to Dowlais
Darran and Deri
GWR to Aberdare
Quakers Yard Low Level
Quakers Yard High Level
TVR to Cardiff
Cwmtysswg Colliery
Merthyr Dowlais Colliery
Taff Merthyr Colliery
Gilfach Fargoed
Nelson & Llancaiach
B&MJR to Alexandra Docks
TVR to Pontypridd
Llancaiach Junction
GWR to Hengoed
Penallta Colliery
Hengoed Viaduct
Hengoed Low Level
Hengoed High Level
Penallta Junction
Penallta (Goods)
Cylla Junction
Universal Colliery
Ystrad Mynach
Penallta Branch Junction
Windsor Colliery
To Barry Junction
Llanbradach Viaduct
North Junction
South Junction
Penyrheol Viaduct
Aber Branch Junction
To Pontypridd
Energlyn Colliery
Beddau Loop Junction
To Walnut Tree Junction
Watford Crossing Junction
Penrhos Viaduct
Upper Junction
Lower Junction
West Branch Junction
To Cadoxton
East Branch Junction
B&MJR to Alexandra Docks
Caerphilly Tunnel (1,935 yards)
Cefn Onn Halt
Lisvane & Thornhill
Coryton Line
Heath Low Level
Heath High Level
Merthyr & Rhondda Line
Cardiff Queen Street
Cardiff Parade
To Bridgend
South Wales Railway to Newport
To Barry
To Cardiff Docks
Cardiff Central
Cardiff Bay


The aim of the railway was to gain access to the large iron works and collieries at the extreme north of the Valley. Short extensions, connecting with other railways, gave the Rhymney routes to take its (largely mineral) traffic to the Midlands and the North of England, or opened up connections to collieries and iron works. Some of those routes were worked jointly with other companies, particularly the London and North Western Railway (LNWR).

Growth of the railway[edit]

The original incorporation was in 1854, and the railway was opened in various sections as follows:

  • Rhymney to Hengoed, January 1858
  • Hengoed - Walnut Tree Junction, February 1858
  • line into Cardiff 1864
  • Rhymney - Nantybwch, giving access to the LNWR. This section was worked jointly by the two companies April 1871
  • Ystrad Mynach - Penallta Junction, giving access to the Great Western Railway and the Aberdare Valley, April 1871
  • Taff Bargoed branch giving access to the Dowlais Iron Works. Nine miles in length, with a gradient of 1:40, it had heavy usage. In 1911 the Rhymney conveyed over 300,000 tons of iron and iron ore per annum over this route. Opened 1 January 1876
  • Quaker's Yard - Cyfarthfa, authorised 1882
  • Aber branch, 1890
  • Ystrad Mynach - Cylla Valley, 1895

The Rhymney owned 120 locomotives in 1911. By then the total mileage of the Rhymney was over 61 miles; a further 16 miles of 'foreign' track was also worked over. Over two million tons of freight had been carried.

Details above taken from The Railway Year Book 1912 (The Railway Publishing Company Ltd)

The first workshops for the railway were in Cardiff, opening in 1857 but, as their work increased, there was insufficient room for expansion, and Caerphilly railway works was opened in 1899.


Although the Rhymney was nominally independent until absorption in the Great Western Railway on 1 January 1922, the same managing director, in 1917, took over control of the line and the Taff Vale Railway and the Cardiff Railway, making them to all and intents and purposes one undertaking.[citation needed]

The route[edit]

The stations of the line from Cardiff to Rhymney were as follows:-

Main Line[edit]

Branch lines[edit]

From south to north these were:

All of those branches have since been closed.


Cornelius Lundie, from the outset of the line and for more than 40 years, was General Manager, Traffic Manager and Superintendent of the line. Upon his retirement in 1904,[2] the Rhymney did a spring cleaning, which notably included the scrapping of his favourite engine, which he had been preserving for a number of years.

Locomotive Superintendents[edit]

  • Thomas Clements (1858–1862)
  • Matthew Mordue (1862–1863)
  • John Kendall (1863–1869)
  • John Canty (1869–1884)
  • Richard Jenkins (1884–1906)
  • C. T. Hurry Riches (1906–1922)

C. T. Hurry Riches was the son of Tom Hurry Riches, Locomotive Superintendent of the Taff Vale Railway (1873–1910).[3] Kendall had an unfortunately short career with the Rhymney, which was cut short when he visited the Brecon and Merthyr Railway to examine a new engine of theirs on 10 June 1869. It overturned at Maesycwmmer, killing him and his B&MR counterpart, J.T. Simpson.[4]


Early locomotives[edit]

The early locomotives were tender engines, whether for passenger or goods:

  • 0-6-0 Vulcan Foundry 1857: inside frames; freight
  • 2-4-0 Vulcan Foundry 1858, 1861: passenger locomotives
  • 0-6-0 Kitson 1859-1868: double frames, outside cranks; freight
  • 0-6-0 ST 1872 onwards: various builders. All Rhymney locomotives from then were of this type.
    • Notes taken from The Railway Magazine February 1923

Later locomotives[edit]


The "main" line is now largely in use as the Rhymney Line. Evening trains traditionally stop closer and closer to Cardiff as the night wears on. For example, the last trains typically only go as far as Ystrad Mynach station.

Several original Rhymney Railway coaches have survived into the present day. Coaches No.95 and 109 stand in private residence. An unidentified six-wheel brake also resides in storage with the National Museums & Galleries of Wales. [5] Only one wagon, a goods van, is known to still exist today, stored at the National Museum of Wales. [6]

No locomotives still exist this day into preservation.


  1. ^ pre-Grouping Atlas
  2. ^ "Cornelius Lundie". steamindex.com. Retrieved 8 January 2009. 
  3. ^ "Tom Hurry Riches". steamindex.com. Retrieved 8 January 2009. 
  4. ^ Davies, F. K.; Firth, J. M.; Lucking, J. H.; Thomas, R. E.; Allcock, N. J.; Sterndale, A. C.; Barrie, D. S. M.; Reed, P. J. T.; Mountford, E. R. (April 1966). White, D. E., ed. The Locomotives of the Great Western Railway, part ten: Absorbed Engines, 1922–1947. RCTS. pp. K98, K196. ISBN 0-901115-20-7. 
  5. ^ http://www.cs.vintagecarriagestrust.org/se/CarriageInfo.asp?Ref=2653
  6. ^ http://www.ws.vintagecarriagestrust.org/ws/WagonInfo.asp?Ref=10708
  • Anon. (1980) [1958]. British Railways Pre-Grouping Atlas and Gazetteer. Shepperton, Surrey: Ian Allan Ltd. p. 8. ISBN 0-7110-0320-3. 

External links[edit]