Swansea District Line: Act of Parliament

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Swansea District Line: Act of Parliament

Postby TheObserver » Tue May 15, 2018 9:55 am

In Peter Dale's "Glamorgan's Lost Railways" on page 97 is the comment: "Powers to build these lines were granted by an Act of August 1904."

I would very much like to obtain a copy of this Act of Parliament, but my search of https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ has failed to find any trace of said document.

Please, can anyone point me towards a source of this Act of Parliament?

Secondly, on the Ordnance Survey 6 inch map of 1948 link at the southern end of the Peniel Green/ Lon Las Tunnel is a junction with the eastern chord going towards, and re-joining the GWR Main Line near the (former?) Skewen Greyhound Track. Does anyone have knowledge of when this chord was taken out of service and subsequently lifted? My guess is there may be a connection with Dr. Beeching, or perhaps the construction of the M4 motorway about 1972.
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Re: Swansea District Line: Act of Parliament

Postby Noel » Tue May 15, 2018 5:04 pm

Not all Acts of Parliament are currently digitised. There was apparently a GWR Act dated 15/8/1904, which is held at Kew http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C2067332. Is this the one in question? If not, can you tell us which railway it was, and the location?
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Re: Swansea District Line: Act of Parliament

Postby TheObserver » Tue May 15, 2018 7:14 pm

Noel wrote:Not all Acts of Parliament are currently digitised. There was apparently a GWR Act dated 15/8/1904, which is held at Kew http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C2067332. Is this the one in question? If not, can you tell us which railway it was, and the location?

Thank you, Noel for your reply,

It is my intention to make further enquiries in the direction you have pointed towards, until that time I hesitate to speculate if this might be the one in question, but in the fullness of time I hope to come back with an answer.

As to identifying the railway in question it is the "Swansea District Line", also known as the 'Swansea Avoiding Line'. Which, the way I read Peter Dale's description appears to have been built with a western end point at 'Morlais Junction' on the Heart of Wales Line (south of Pontaddulais), an eastern end point re-joining the South Wales Main Line at Skewen, a southern end point at Jersey Marine South Junction, leading to Swansea Docks and a south eastern end point joining the Rhondda & Swansea Bay Railway at Dynevor Junction on the west bank of the River Neath, providing a second access to the South Wales Main Line (via running rights over the R&SBR) at Briton Ferry.

This can be seen with considerable clarity on the Ordnance Survey 6 inch maps of 1914:
https://maps.nls.uk/view/102182817# and https://maps.nls.uk/view/102342505#

Once again thank you for your help.
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Re: Swansea District Line: Act of Parliament

Postby Noel » Wed May 16, 2018 11:11 am

There was also a north-facing junction at the west end, at Hendy Junction, if I've got the name right. So far as the 1904 Act is concerned, I have found this:

"For many years the Great Western Railway had suffered from congestion in the Swansea area; a particular difficulty was the severe gradients at Cockett which required heavy trains to be banked and resulted in lengthy line occupation times. In the early years of the twentieth century consideration was given to relieving the issue, and the decision was taken to construct what became the Swansea District Line. This long new line left the main line near Briton Ferry and looped round to the north of Swansea, joining the Llanelly line near Bynea.

To give good access for colliery traffic, there was a triangular junction there, so that coal traffic from the Amman valley could turn east on to the new line; at the same time express passenger trains (particularly Fishguard boat trains) could avoid Swansea using the line. The work was authorised on 15 August 1904, and opened throughout on 14 July 1913."

It's from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Llanelly_Railway#The_twentieth_century, so the usual caveats apply.
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Re: Swansea District Line: Act of Parliament

Postby TheObserver » Thu May 17, 2018 11:37 am

Good Morning Noel,

Thank you for your further reply.

>> There was also a north-facing junction at the west end, at Hendy Junction, if I've got the name right.
Yes, was and still is, this north - east chord, according to Google maps, satellite view, is double track, and is used regularly for the Burrows Sorting Sidings to Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen traffic. The south - east chord is also double track, used predominately for freight working, with a small sprinkling of passenger services, occasional sight of this web page makes interesting reading. The north - south chord is single track.

>> This long new line left the main line near Briton Ferry and looped round to the north of Swansea, joining the Llanelly line near Bynea.
Although I hadn't read this particular piece of script, I have read similar scripts, sufficient for me to have pondered over the various authors conclusions.

When one considers that the eastern chord of the Lon Las junction provided a GWR built double track connecting back to the South Wales Main Line a little west of Skewen Station, (link to map) whilst the south-eastern chord from Lon Las connected to the (then) Rhondda & Swansea Bay Railway. One wonders at this distance in time, if the GWR would have preferred to run their Ocean Mail trains over their own built and owned tracks, albeit via Skewen & Neath, in preference to running Ocean Mail trains over a third party's freight line to Briton Ferry?

>> ... ... ... there was a triangular junction there, so that coal traffic from the Amman valley could turn east on to the new line; ... ... ...
Not only the Ammanan Valley, at the time of the opening of the SDL there were already connections to Graig Merthyr (exchange?) sidings a little east of the above mentioned triangular junction; to Cefngyfelach & Tircoed collieries and separately to Tir Ffordd colliery at Llangyfelach station and somewhat later the Tir Llewellyn Briquette plant also at Llangyfelach. By looking at the series of Ordnance Survey, 6 inch sheets published plus/minus 1913 there are other coal industry related features to be seen along the line between Morlais Junction South and Lon Las Junction.

I thank you for your contribution to this thread which is adding to my knowledge of the history of the Swansea District Line.
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Re: Swansea District Line: Act of Parliament

Postby Noel » Thu May 17, 2018 1:55 pm

TheObserver wrote:whilst the south-eastern chord from Lon Las connected to the (then) Rhondda & Swansea Bay Railway. One wonders at this distance in time, if the GWR would have preferred to run their Ocean Mail trains over their own built and owned tracks, albeit via Skewen & Neath, in preference to running Ocean Mail trains over a third party's freight line to Briton Ferry?


The GWR took over the management of the R&SB from July 1906, with full running powers*. I have no knowledge of the terms of the agreement, in particular its intended duration, but presumably it was effectively indefinite, with enough security for the GWR to be able to treat the R&SB as operationally a part of its own system. I have not seen any suggestion that there was ever any challenge to the GWR's control of the R&SB [or the PTR, with which it had a similar agreement in 1908].

* A Regional History of the Railways of Great Britain, Vol 12, D S M Barrie
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Re: Swansea District Line: Act of Parliament

Postby Noel » Thu May 17, 2018 2:04 pm

Forgotten Railways South Wales, James Page, p179 gives the Acts for Hafod Junction to Felin Fran Junction as 25/7/1872 and 15/8/1904, with opening dates Hafod Junction to Morriston 9/5/1881 and Morriston to Felin Fran Junction 8/5/1914, which would seem to confirm the 15/8/1904 Act as being the one authorising the Swansea District Line.
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Re: Swansea District Line: Act of Parliament

Postby TheObserver » Thu May 17, 2018 3:49 pm

Good Afternoon Noel,

Two replies in one day, too much free time on my hands?

>> The GWR took over the management of the R&SB from July 1906, with full running powers*.
Well that one had passed me bye, I had presumed the 1922/23 amalgamation was the takeover point, my education continues. Thank you.
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