Heart of Wales line
The Heart of Wales line is a railway line running from Craven Arms in Shropshire to Llanelli in southwest Wales. It runs, it serves a number of rural centres en route, including several once-fashionable spa towns, including Llandrindod Wells. At Builth Road, two miles from the town of Builth Wells, the line crosses the former route of the earlier Mid Wales Railway, which closed in the 1960s; the line was known as the Central Wales line and included routes through Gowerton, where the railway crossed the West Wales lines and ran through Dunvant and Killay down through the Clyne Valley to Blackpill, along the sea wall to Swansea Bay station, before reaching Swansea Victoria railway station. This section built by the Llanelly Railway and Dock Company to compete with the Great Western Railway and break the monopoly they held on Swansea Dock, closed in 1964. Nationalisation of the railways had removed the need for competing routes, the running down and closure of Swansea North Dock ended the need for freight services on this section.
Trains now use the original LR main line to reach the West Wales lines at Llandeilo Junction and thence Llanelli and Swansea. North of Llandovery, the route was opened in stages between 1861 and 1868 by a number of different companies – the Knighton Railway, the Central Wales Railway and Central Wales Extension Railway; the 1963 Beeching Report proposed the remainder of the Heart of Wales line for closure. As a rural branch line, it survived the Beeching Axe since it carried freight traffic, serving the steelworks at Bynea and industrial areas such as Ammanford and Pontarddulais, linking them with the docks at Llanelli, it passed through six marginal constituencies. During engineering work, the line is still used as a diversionary freight route; the basic service over the line since the seventies has remained more or less constant, with four or five trains per day in each direction on weekdays and two or three on Sundays. The line is single track throughout and has been operated under a Light Railway Order since 1972.
There are five passing loops, at Llandeilo, Llanwrtyd and Knighton. Unless "Out of Course" working occurs the Llanwrtyd passing loop is used on two of the Monday – Saturday services and the Llandrindod passing loop is in use on the other two and on the Sunday services; the signalling was modernised in 1986, when a system known as No Signalman Token Remote working was introduced. This is overseen by the signaller at Pantyffynnon, with the token instruments at the aforementioned five passing loops being operated by the train crew by British Rail. For more than two years only two of the loops were operational as Network Rail were unable to source spare parts for the points mechanisms used at all five: the design used is now obsolete. Parts had to be taken from the three decommissioned loops to keep the other two operational. In 2009 NR stated their intention to install new conventional electric point machines at all five loops and restore the three out-of-service ones to full working order but were unable to give a timescale for this to be carried out as design work on the new equipment was still ongoing.
NR began the replacement works for the points after first installing the system on the line to Pembroke Dock, at the Tenby loop, on 7 December 2009 and making minor alterations in Feb 2010. Llandeilo was the first on the line to be modernised, the rest followed; the £5 million project was completed in October 2010. In 2014 Network Rail added exit indicators at the trailing end of each loop to aid in the reversing of services: a decision taken so that all moves have an active indication of the status of the motor points. In 1987 tragedy struck the line near Llandeilo when the Glanrhyd Bridge collapsed following heavy flooding, an early morning northbound train plunged into the swollen River Towy, killing four people. For a while the future of the line was in doubt but political forces of all sides rallied to ensure the line's survival. After leaving the West Wales Line at Llandeilo Junction, the route is shared with the Swansea District line as far as Morlais Junction before passing beneath the M4 Motorway & turning northwards towards Pontarddulais and Pantyfynnon.
The short tunnel before the former station is the oldest surviving example still in use in Wales, whilst the freight-only branch along the Amman valley to Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen diverges at the latter. North of Ammanford, it follows the valley of the River Tywi north to Llandeilo and Llandovery, crossing the river at Glanrhyd by a replacement single-span bridge built & commissioned in 1988. North of Llandovery the character of the route changes, as it ascends into the Carmarthenshire hills towards the first of the line's two major summits at Sugar Loaf on gradients as steep as 1 in 60. En route, it passes over the 283-yard long Cynghordy viaduct acro
The River Wye is the fifth-longest river in the UK, stretching some 215 kilometres from its source on Plynlimon in mid Wales to the Severn estuary. For much of its length the river forms part of the border between Wales; the Wye Valley is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Wye is important for nature recreation; the meaning of the name is not clear. The earliest reference to the name is Guoy in Nennius' early 9th Century Historia Brittonum and the modern Welsh name is Gwy; the Wye was much given a Latin name Vaga, an adjective meaning'wandering'. The Tithe map references a Vagas Field in both Chepstow. Philologists such as Edward Lye and Joseph Bosworth in the 18th and early 19th centuries suggested an Old English derivation from wæg, "wave"; the source of the Wye is in the Welsh mountains at Plynlimon. It flows through or past several towns and villages including Rhayader, Builth Wells, Hay-on-Wye, Ross-on-Wye, Symonds Yat and Tintern, meeting the Severn estuary just below Chepstow, its total length is 134 miles.
The lower 16 miles of the river from Redbrook to Chepstow forms the border between England and Wales. The River Wye forms two Sites of Special Scientific Interest, one covering the Upper Wye above Hay-on-Wye, one covering the Lower Wye downstream to Chepstow; the criteria for inclusion of the river as an SSSI include geology, flora, invertebrates and birdlife, as the river and its tributaries constitute a large linear ecosystem. The Lower Wye SSSI is itself divided into seven units of assessment set by Natural England, administrative responsibilities are shared between the county authorities of Powys, Herefordshire and Monmouthshire; the Wye abuts a range of other SSSIs in England and Wales, including the Upper Wye Gorge and Lower Wye Gorge. It is a Special Area of Conservation and one of the most important rivers in the UK for nature conservation, it is an important migration route and wildlife corridor, as well as a key breeding area for many nationally and internationally important species.
The river supports a range of species and habitats covered by European Directives and those listed under Schedule 5 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. In Powys the river lies within the Radnorshire Environmentally Sensitive Area. Much of the lower valley is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; the Lower Wye has been designated as a salmonid fishery under the EC Freshwater Fish Directive. The Wye is unpolluted and used to be considered one of the best rivers for salmon fishing in the United Kingdom, outside Scotland. In the 1980s and 1990s salmon in the Wye declined dramatically. In 1967 the Wye rod catch was 7,864, as as 1988 it was 6,401, it is now recovering from this low in response to the extensive habitat improvement work carried out by the Wye and Usk Foundation, set up to restore the spring salmon runs. In 2015 the five-year average once again climbed above 1,000 and it is now the third best salmon river in England and Wales, surpassed only by the Tyne and Wear; the Wye was famous for its large "spring" salmon that had spent three or more years at sea before returning to spawn.
They used to enter the river between January and June and sometimes reached weights of over 50 pounds, the largest recorded being 59 lb 8 oz landed after a long fight by Miss Doreen Davey from the Cowpond Pool at Winforton on 13 March 1923. The last recorded 50 lb rod-caught salmon from the Wye was taken in 1963 by Donald Parrish and weighed 51 lb 8 oz. Since the early 2000s the spring catch has been recovering and salmon of over 35 lb have been reported every year since 2011; the Romans constructed a bridge of stone just upstream of present-day Chepstow. The River Wye was and still is navigable up to Monmouth at least since the early 14th century, it was improved from there to a short distance below Hereford by Sir William Sandys in the early 1660s with locks to enable vessels to pass weirs. According to Herefordshire Council Archaeology, these were flash locks; the work proved to be insufficiently substantial and in 1696 a further Act of Parliament authorised the County of Hereford to buy up and demolish the mills on the Wye and Lugg.
All locks and weirs were removed, except that at New Weir forge below Goodrich, which survived until about 1815. This was paid for by a tax on the county. Weirs were removed all along the Wye in Herefordshire, making the river passable to the western boundary, beyond it at least to Hay on Wye. A horse towing path was added in 1808, but only up to Hereford. Money was spent several times improving the River Lugg from Leominster to its confluence with the Wye at Mordiford, but its navigation is to have been difficult; the Wye remained commercially navigable until the 1850s. It is still used by pleasure craft. In 2017 MORE than 600 people took to the River Wye in inflatables ranging from dinghies to paddling pools during the event WYE FLOAT, opened by former Olympic ski jumper Eddie the Eagle; the Environment Agency is the navigation authority for the river. The Normal Tidal Limit of the river is Bigsweir and navigation below this point is under the control of the Gloucester Harbour Trustees as Competent Harbour Authority.
There is a public right of navigation downstream from Hay-on-Wye. Canoes are permitted at and downstream of Glasbury, so long as they do not disturb anglers; the River Wye provides for canoeing and kayaking as it has sections
Llanelli railway station
Llanelli railway station is the railway station serving the town of Llanelli, Wales. It is located on the West Wales line and the Heart of Wales line 11 1⁄4 miles west of Swansea by rail; the station and the majority of trains calling are operated by Transport for Wales. It is located between two level crossings that were upgraded in the 1970s. In 2015, Network Rail carried out a further upgrade which saw the control of these level crossings pass from the Grade-II listed Llanelli West signal box to Port Talbot Panel Signal Box using CCTV; the station is staffed, with the ticket office on platform 2. A self-service ticket machine is provided for use when the booking office is closed and for collecting advance purchase/pre-paid tickets; the main buildings on this platform house a newsagents shop, help point and post box. Platform 1 has bench seating and a customer help point. Digital CIS displays, timetable posters and automated announcements provide train running information; the platforms are linked by a footbridge with steps, but level access is possible to both platforms using the east level crossing and nearby road.
Transport for Wales operate an hourly service in each direction along the West Wales Line, from Manchester Piccadilly and Cardiff Central via Swansea to Carmarthen, with two-hourly extensions to Milford Haven. There is a separate between Swansea and Pembroke Dock via Tenby that calls, along with the twice-daily service to and from Fishguard Harbour that runs to connect with the ferry to/from Rosslare; the daily Great Western Railway service between Carmarthen and London Paddington calls here. Great Western Railway operates a summer Saturday service between London and Pembroke Dock. There are four trains a day in each direction on the Heart of Wales line to Shrewsbury, plus a fifth morning peak train to/from as Llandovery. Two trains each way operate on the line on Sundays; as the line from Swansea enters Llanelli from the east, these trains must reverse direction here to continue their journeys. Transport for Wales' boat trains to and from Fishguard Harbour serve the station. Two other services to & from there call since the branch service was improved in 2011.
This route has been in existence since 1906. Llanelli railway station was the scene for the Llanelli Riots of 1911; the Llanelli Riots took place on 19 August 1911. Their immediate cause was the first railway strike which lasted only two days; the strike started on Thursday evening, by Saturday evening two young men had been shot dead by the military. One man was killed when a railway truck exploded and, on the following day, three more people died from their injuries; the story of the Riots is set in a period of great industrial unrest, involves prominent figures on the international scene such as Lloyd George, Winston Churchill, King George V, Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. Train times and station information for Llanelli railway station from National Rail
The Mid-Wales Railway was an early railway company operating in Mid-Wales. It was a constituent part of the Cambrian Railways; the company was formed in 1859 and parliamentary approval was received on 1 August for the northern section of the line from Llanidloes, Montgomeryshire to Llandovery, Carmarthenshire. Approval for the southern section from Newbridge-on-Wye to Three Cocks Junction in northern Brecknockshire was received on 3 July 1860; the first sod was ceremonially cut on 2 September 1859, but further work on the 46.7 mile line was delayed until 1862. A formal opening ceremony was held on 23 August 1864, the line to Three Cocks Junction was opened goods traffic on 1 September. Parliament had authorised both the MWR and the Manchester and Milford Railway to connect Llanidloes to Aberystwyth, so the M&MR had prioritised construction in the Llanidloes area. An agreement was reached to form the joint Llanidloes and Newtown Railway, which extended 1.5 miles south to Pentpontbren Junction, where the MWR and M&MR's short-lived Llangurig branch diverged.
The L&NR opened its line in 1859. The MWR worked the line of the Hereford and Brecon Railway from 1 October 1868 until that company was taken over by the Midland Railway on 1 October 1869; the line from Builth Road to Llandovery was not built, but a connection to the Central Wales Extension Railway was completed on 1 November 1866, enabling goods trains to run to and through that station. At Brecon, following the initial opening of three separate stations, a joint station was created at Free Street. At Llanidloes railway station, the grand junction building, created in anticipation of M&MR traffic which never materialised, since the Mid Wales Railway never completed their section of the Llangurig - Strata Florida - Aberystwyth line; the Welsh Railways Through Traffic Act of 1889 went some way to formalising an arrangement to create the Mid Wales Line, to form part of a through route from South Wales to Cheshire, as an alternative to the main line route via Hereford and Shrewsbury. The main route was made up of: Great Western Railway: Oswestry to Gobowen for the Shrewsbury and Chester Railway Potteries and North Wales Railway: Shrewsbury to Llanymynech Shrewsbury and Welshpool Railway: GWR and LNWR mainlines at Shrewsbury to Welshpool Oswestry and Newtown Railway: Oswestry to Newtown Llanidloes and Newtown Railway: Newtown to Penbontbren Junction Mid-Wales Railway: Penbontbren Junction to Talyllyn Junction Hereford and Brecon Railway: Three Cocks Junction to Hay-on-Wye.
Brecon and Merthyr Railway: Talyllyn Junction to Merthyr, onwards to Cardiff Neath and Brecon Railway: Brecon to Neath, accessing the South Wales Main Line Swansea Vale Railway: to Swansea docks and West WalesThe links necessary to complete the route included the Oswestry and Whitchurch Railway to connect to the LNWR at Crewe, the Wrexham and Ellesmere Railway to connect to the Wrexham and Connah's Quay Railway and hence onwards to Liverpool. These links were not complete until 1896. In practice the Mid Wales Line never received substantial use, that entirely for goods traffic; as a result, the Mid-Wales Railway encountered financial problems, the company's locomotives and rolling stock were sold. A working arrangement was signed with the Cambrian Railways which took effect on 2 April 1888. Formal vesting of the line in the CamR followed on 24 June 1904. Normal goods and passenger trains along the CR/MWRs route were stopped in World War I by intensive coal trains, dubbed Jellicoe Specials after the Admiral of the Fleet John Jellicoe, 1st Earl Jellicoe, from the South Wales Coalfield travelling north towards Scapa Flow for use by warships of the Royal Navy.
The whole of the CR/MWR route, its stations, from Moat Lane Junction to Talyllyn Junction, were closed for passengers throughout by British Railways on 31 December 1962. The section between Moat Lane Junction and Llanidloes remained open for freight traffic until 1967. Cambrian Line Heart of Wales Line Bibliography
The A470 referred to as the Cardiff to Glan Conwy Trunk Road, is a 186 miles long road in Wales that connects Cardiff on the south coast to Llandudno on the north coast. It has undergone considerable road improvement in the last two decades. While one had to navigate the narrow roads of Llanidloes and Dolgellau, both these market towns are now bypassed due to extensive road modernisation; the 26 miles from Cardiff Bay to Merthyr Tydfil are direct and good quality dual carriageway, but most of the route from north of Merthyr to Llandudno is single carriageway which has seen considerable improvement in the last 20–30 years. The road travels through two of Wales's national parks; the southernmost point of the route is outside the Wales Millennium Centre. It runs up Lloyd George Avenue, continues along St. Mary Street in central Cardiff; the road becomes North Road, after a tidal flow system running to Maindy and goes over the flyover at the Gabalfa interchange of the A48 and the A469. It becomes an urban dual-carriageway along Manor Way, with a 40 mph speed limit and with many traffic-signalled crossings.
It passes without interruption under the M4 at the giant Coryton roundabout. For the next 15 miles it is a modern high-speed dual carriageway by-passing Tongwynlais and Castell Coch, Taff's Well, to Pontypridd. Heading north to Abercynon, the road now follows the route of the Taff Vale Railways Llancaiach Branch to Quakers Yard roundabout, where it is joined by the A4059 from Abercynon and Hirwaun. From Quakers Yard roundabout, 5.5 miles of dual carriageway takes the road to the Pentrebach roundabout where the A4060 links, to the Merthyr Tydfil roundabout where the road meets the A465 and the dual carriageway ends. A twisting section alongside the Taf Fawr reservoirs of Llwyn-on, Cantref and Beacons takes the road to its highest point at Storey Arms on the pass over the Brecon Beacons before a long descent to Brecon; the remainder of the route north of Brecon consists of older routes now renamed "A470". This artificiality is apparent as a driver following the entire route north to south must diverge from the main line of respective stretches of road no fewer than five times.
A short three lane stretch heads north east before a sharp left turn is required to stay on the road. From this point on the road becomes narrow and twisting and overtaking is problematic except at a few straight sections. Another sharp left turn at a stop sign in Llyswen takes the road alongside the River Wye into Builth Wells; the road continues to follow the Wye to the busy crossroads where it meets the A44 in the centre of Rhayader. On reaching Llangurig, a right turn outside the village takes the road past Llanidloes and through Llandinam, the birthplace of David Davies and now the headquarters of Girl Guides Wales. Another anomalous left turn at a level crossing sets the path for Caersws and Llanbrynmair. Just beyond the village of Talerddig the road descends and crosses under the Shrewsbury–Aberystwyth railway line; the long descent towards Commins Coch is a new stretch of road that replaced a set of road-works that had traffic light controlled single lane working for over 10 years because of unstable ground conditions.
The river bridge at Commins Coch is so narrow and set at such an angle that only one vehicle at a time can pass. At Cemmaes Road the road joins the A487 at a roundabout. A right turn at the roundabout takes the road on to Mallwyd where the A458 joins at yet another roundabout; the country becomes more forested and the road climbs up through Dinas Mawddwy and steeply up the eastern foot-hills of Cadair Idris before dropping down to the Dolgellau by-pass. More sharp twists and turns in the forestry and through the village of Ganllwyd brings the road up onto the high plateau of the Cambrian dome where the road follows the ancient track of Sarn Helen Roman road passing the redundant nuclear power station at Trawsfynydd. A right turn beyond the power station takes the road on to Ffestiniog and Blaenau Ffestiniog before heading over the Crimea Pass to Dolwyddelan. A sharp left turn interrupts the A470 as it becomes the A5 for a short distance towards Betws-y-Coed before turning right again back onto the A470 just before Waterloo Bridge.
Passing down the valley of the River Conwy the road passes through Llanrwst, Tal-y-Cafn and Glan Conwy, at which point there is a dual roundabout that intersects with the A55 North Wales Expressway before descending into Llandudno. The northernmost point of the route is in Llandudno itself at the sea front, where it meets the North Shore Parade, the A547; the route from Cardiff to Brecon was the original A470. It ran into Brecon town centre and joined the A40 road; the old A470 between the by-pass and the town, along Newgate Street, is now the B4601. A4062 was the number for the section from the junction of the A40 and the B4601 – the Brecon bypass to B4602 section; the B4601 was the A40 which ran through the town of Brecon. The B4602 was the westernmost part of the A438; the A438 was the original number for the road from the junction with B4602 to the sharp left turn where A470 turns north in the vicinity of Llanfilo. The A438 continues on from there to Tewkesbury. From north of Llanfilo to Llyswen was the A4073.
A479 linked the A40 west of Crickhowell to the A44 road at Rhayader. The A479 now runs only from Crickhowell to Llyswe
Brecon, archaically known as Brecknock, is a market town and community in Powys, with a population in 2001 of 7,901, increasing to 8,250 at the 2011 census. It was the county town of Brecknockshire. Brecon is the third-largest town in Powys, after Ystradgynlais, it lies north of the Brecon Beacons mountain range, but is just within the Brecon Beacons National Park. The Welsh name, means "mouth of the Honddu", it is derived from the River Honddu, which meets the River Usk near the town centre, a short distance away from the River Tarell which enters the Usk a few hundred metres upstream. After the Dark Ages the original Welsh name of the kingdom in whose territory Brecon stands was "Brycheiniog", anglicised to Brecknock or Brecon, derives from Brychan, the eponymous founder of the kingdom. Before the building of the bridge over the Usk, Brecon was one of the few places where the river could be forded. In Roman Britain Y Gaer, Brecon was established as a Roman cavalry base for the conquest of Roman Wales and Brecon was first established as a military base.
The confluence of the Honddu and the River Usk made for a valuable defensive position for the Norman castle which overlooks the town, built by Bernard de Neufmarche in the late 11th century. Gerald of Wales made some speeches in 1188 to recruit men to go to the Crusades. Brecon's town walls were constructed by Humphrey de Bohun after 1240; the walls were built of cobble, with four gatehouses and was protected by ten semi-circular bastions. In 1400 the Welsh prince Owain Glyndŵr rose in rebellion against English rule, in response in 1404 100 marks was spent by the royal government improving the fortifications to protect Brecon in the event of a Welsh attack. Brecon's walls were destroyed during the English Civil War. Today only fragments survive, including some parts of one of the gatehouses. In Shakespeare's play King Richard III, the Duke of Buckingham is suspected of supporting the Welsh pretender Richmond, declares: O, let me think on Hastings and be goneTo Brecknock, while my fearful head is on!
A Priory was dissolved in 1538, Brecon's Dominican Friary of St Nicholas was suppressed in August of the same year. About 250 m north of the castle stands Brecon Cathedral, a modest building compared to many cathedrals; the role of cathedral is a recent one, was bestowed upon the church in 1923 with the formation of the Diocese of Swansea and Brecon from what was the archdeaconry of Brecon — a part of the Diocese of St David's. Saint Mary's church began as a chapel of ease to the priory but most of the building is dated to medieval times; the West Tower, some 27 m high, was built in 1510 by Edward, Duke of Buckingham at a cost of £2,000. The tower has eight bells. In March 2007 the bells were removed from the church tower for refurbishment; the church is a Grade II* listed building. The Church of St. David, referred to locally as Llanfaes Church, was founded in the early sixteenth century; the first Parish Priest, Maurice Thomas, was installed there by John Blaxton, Archdeacon of Brecon in 1555.
The name is derived from the Welsh – Llandewi yn y Maes – which translates as St. David's in the Field, it is probable that the site and the name of the present Church were chosen because of the close proximity of a fresh water well called Ffynnon Dewi, situated 150 metres south of the church. Plough Lane Chapel known as Plough United Reformed Church, is a Grade II* listed building; the present building dates back to 1841 and was re-modelled by Owen Morris Roberts and is considered to be one of the finest chapel interiors in Wales. After the Reformation, some Breconshire families such as the Havards, the Gunters and the Powells persisted with Catholicism despite its suppression. In the 18th Century a Catholic Mass house in Watergate was active, Rev John Williams was the local Catholic priest from 1788 to 1815; the Watergate house was sold in 1805, becoming the current Watergate Baptist Chapel, property purchased as the priest's residence and a chapel between Wheat Street and the current St Michael Street, including the “Three Cocks Inn”.
The normal round of bishop's visitations and confirmations resumed in the 1830s. In 1832 most civil liberties were restored to Catholics and they became able to practise their faith more openly. A simple Gothic Church, dedicated to St Michael and designed by Charles Hansom, was built in 1851 at a cost of £1,000; the east end of town has two military establishments: Dering Lines, home to the Infantry Battle School, where infantry officers and Other Ranks are trained, The Barracks, home to 160th Brigade. Gurkha Company is based here. 9 miles to the west of Brecon is Sennybridge Training Area, an important training facility for the British Army. The west end of Brecon has a small industrial area, recent years have seen the cattle market moved from the centre of the town to this area, with markets held several times a week. Brecon has primary schools, with a secondary school and further education college on the northern edge of the town; the town is home to Christ College, founded in 1541. Brecon is located near where the east-west A40 (Monmouth-Carmarth