“The miners track”- a suggested walk by Phil Scott

Submitted by Phil Scott

Scrutiny of the original 1876 Great Western Railway Engineer’s maps of the Garw branch (available from Network Rail) show a vast complex of independent tramways that run adjacent to the main Garw Branch, many of these are short and today, run from nowhere to nowhere else.
However, the maps show that a tramway runs parallel to the West of the line near Pant-y-gog, almost all the way to Pontycymer. This runs between the railway and Bridgend Road.
The tramway is heavily overgrown at present, but in winter months when the vegetation has fallen, its’ course can be made out with relative ease. I have found various interesting artefacts along its course, including oddments of rail, cast iron rope haulage pulleys, and pictured below a closed off mine entrance (this adit is entirely safe and completely inaccessible due to it being full of water). I am sure that plenty more features would come to light when vegetation has fallen. This requires care as there are various obstacles below foot: pieces of old masonry, ditches, piles of spoil, as well as some large & vicious brambles.
Start off at the footpath crossing near Pant-y-Gog where the public footpath runs between Beech Road and New Road and over the railway. Just a few feet up the concrete ramp on the West side of the railway crossing, take the narrow track heading North through the grass. The level shelf cut into the banking of the road can easily be made out, though you will have to cross a few small streams and drainage ditches. Further on, the path runs past an old drift mine entrance and after this you will find yourself looking down onto Brookside Cottage and the football fields. After this, the course of the tramway becomes much less distinct and before reaching the engine sheds you will have to scramble down the bank to pick up the course of the Community Route.
A bricked up mine entrance, inaccessible as it's full of water!

Looking across the valley. Brookside Cottage can be seen bottom right.


Diagrams of the area’s various rail tracks and alterations since 1876 are also shown in R.A.Cooke’s excellent publication “Track Layout diagrams Section 49A (Tondu Branches) Pages 31/32. A copy of which is held in the Heritage Society archive. These show the tramway as laid in 1876, modified in 1897 and the private siding connections for Braich y Cymer Colliery until the connections to the main line were removed in the 1930s when Emersons took over the agreements.

3 comments Add yours
  1. Hi Phil,
    Excellent directions and photograph, I will certainly try this myself.( if it ever stops raining long enough). I will be sure to take a good stout stick and perhaps a machete.

  2. Hello, I really need to spend some time re-exploring the Garw and your suggested walk may be a good place to begin.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention.

    Colin Thomas Davies

  3. I have an excellent photo of the tramway (horse drawn) at Bridgend Road. I will post it shortly.

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