Historic Landscape Characterisation
Merthyr Tydfil

028 Taff Vale Railway Corridor

HLCA 028 Taff Vale Railway Corridor Rail transport corridor; historic associations; water management features.

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(Photo: GGAT Merthyr 028)

Taff Vale Railway Corridor character area: transport corridor based on Brunel's Taff Vale Railway.


A transport corridor based on the Taff Vale Railway, engineered by Brunel and the first public locomotive railway to serve Merthyr; this area includes the terminus of the Vale of Neath railway and mineral railways. The area is characterised by surviving railway embankments; the Taff Vale line is still in use.

Historical background

The historic landscape area of Taff Vale Railway Corridor takes in the existing Merthyr to Cardiff Line, ie the former Taff Vale Railway, the site of the former Taff Vale Terminus to the south west of High Street and the current Merthyr Train Station, built in the area of the Vale of Neath Terminus south of John Street. The area also includes the Merthyr Railway Station Warehouse, Pentrebach Railway Station and Abercanaid Tramway Bridge.

The Taff Vale Railway, engineered by IK Brunel, was the first public locomotive railway to serve Merthyr. An Act of Parliament of 1835 sanctioning the construction of the line was championed by the ironmasters of the area under the leadership of Anthony Hill; in 1841, the line was finished and commissioned.

Attracted by the success of the Taff Railway, and the obvious potential of both the ironworks and the local collieries and pits, the Vale of Neath Railway entered the scene in 1853 with the completion of the Abernant Tunnel to the Taff Valley and extension of its line to Merthyr Tydfil. Two years earlier, the Dowlais Iron Company had opened its railway from Dowlais to the Taff Vale Terminus and sidings off Plymouth Street.

In 1877, the Great Western Railway opened the branch line known as 'the Merthyr Curve' in co-operation with the Taff Vale Railway, giving the GWR access to the Taff Vale Terminus in Merthyr.

The Vale of Neath Railway had closed by the mid-l960s; the only functioning line remaining being British Rail's single track, the former line of the TVR and GWR, now terminating at the site of the former Vale of Neath Station.


For further information please contact the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust at this address. Link to the Countryside Council for Wales website at www.ccw.gov.uk or Cadw at www.cadw.wales.gov.uk