The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd.

Character Areas


003 Glantorfaen

Fieldscape of Glantorfaen with Company's Farm (centre)and industrial terraced row (middle left)

HLCA003 Glantorfaen

Area characterised by small clustered settlement of isolated industrial rows. Transportation and communication features, including industrial and public railway, tramroad network, roads, footpaths and tracks. Remnant agricultural landscape.Back to map

Historic Background

The historic landscape area of Glantorfaen, an outlying industrial settlement, is situated south of the line of the former Monmouthshire Railway Eastern Valley Section and the town of Blaenavon. The Varteg Road is used as a convenient boundary with the predominately transport/agricultural landscape of HLCA018. The area comprised early post-medieval freehold lands with later eighteenth century leaselands to the south. The land, which belonged to a small estate centred on Glantorfaen House was bought by the Blaenavon Company in 1819 from a Mr Edward Lewis. The nearby Allgood Farm, given as Company's Farm on the 1st edition and earlier maps was probably associated with the Blaenavon Company mines.

Another notable feature in the area is Aaron Brute's Iron Ore Level (SAM: MM220); the entrance of which still survives. Aaron Brute, a stone mason and building contractor dug the level, which continued to be worked until 1843, near Forgeside in the early nineteenth century. Other features associated with Aaron Brute include his iron bridge (SAM: MM220), which carried a primitive railway from the mine to the ironworks at Forgeside and Brute's Row the earliest industrial terraced housing in the area.

Later terraced housing in the area, ie Glantorfaen Terrace Upper, Glantorfaen Terrace Lower and Railway Terrace, was built from the 1860s in conjunction with the development of the LNWR Blaenavon-Brynmawr Branch Line. Further terraced housing was constructed by the early twentieth century extending the row at Barnfield Terrace and a row of four houses at Oakfield Terrace. Also by this date, two new rows had been constructed to form Allgood Avenue; these have now been demolished.

Transport links in the area developed with a tramroad of 1796 that served the ironworks from the south. In 1854, this was replaced by the Monmouthshire Railway Eastern Valley Section, which ran close to the river, crossing a number of bridges and linked to a tramroad network connecting both ironworks sites. In 1868 an additional line, the Blaenavon-Brynmawr branch of the LNWR (Pontypool and Blaenavon Railway), was opened close to the ironworks at Forgeside. The latter carried passengers and freight until the mid-twentieth century.

Historic Landscape Characteristics

Glantorfaen is characterised as a semi-open area dominated by industrial settlement. The focus of the settlement has shifted from the area of Brute's Row to the area south and east of Allgood (Company's) Farm. The initial focus of the settlement around Brute's Row (partially extant) is characterised by an essentially unplanned arrangement of detached double-fronted cottages forming a small settlement cluster associated with an irregular group of yards. These buildings typically have chimneystacks at their gable ends, modern re-rendered elevations and slate roofs, however, they have undergone modernization in recent years.

The later settlement focus, Railway Terrace, Barnfield Terrace and the Glantorfaen Terraces, based around Company's Farm is characterised by uniform stone built rows, all single fronted with slate roofs and brick stacks. These have been individualized through the treatment of frontages, displaying a mixture of unrendered, rendered painted, and pebble-dashed finishes; the original finish would appear to have been unrendered. Characteristic of the area are regular, linear front gardens and small yards with outside toilets/coalhouses to the rear. The curtilage of the front gardens and rear yards is of mortared stone.

An important element within this character area is Company's Farm: a two-storey range, constructed of random stone with lime-washed elevations and retaining some original fenestration. A mid-nineteenth century, roughly L-shaped, range of single storey brick built sheds with corrugated iron roofs has been attached to the south east side. Company's farm serves to illustrate the important an often-overlooked association and interaction between industrial urban society and agriculture.

Industrial and public transportation links, which served the town of Blaenavon, the Ironworks and associated collieries such as Big Pit are characteristic of the area. These links include early tramroads, and later railways such as the Monmouthshire Railway Eastern Valley Section and the Blaenavon-Brynmawr branch of the LNWR. A number of lanes and tracks also run through the area.

The underlying evolved, irregular field pattern, while partially masked by settlement development, survives in a recognizable form to the east of Nant Torfaen.