Taff Vale Railway

Taff Vale Railway (and related lines)

TVR logo

The Taff Vale Railway (TVR) was an important railway line in Glamorganshire built primarily to serve the expanding exploitation of the South Wales Coalfield in the 19th Century. The Company's headquarters and workshops were in Butetown, in the heart of Cardiff Docks. The TVR mainline was 24 miles long, but there were no fewer than 23 branchlines taking the total length of the network to 124 miles 42 chains.

Taff Vale Map



Important Dates


10th February

1804

Richard Trevithick drives world's first steam locomotive along the Penydarren Tramroad in the Taff Valley


1835

Ironmaster Anthony Hill asks IK Brunel to estimate cost of building a railway from Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff

21st June

1836

Royal Assent given to the Taff Vale Railway Company Act (TVR)


1836

Construction starts


1840

Cardiff Dock Station opened, later Bute Road, later Cardiff Bay

8th October

1840

Newbridge (=Pontypridd) Pentyrch, Llandaff, Cardiff Queen Street stations opened

9th October

1840

Formal opening Cardiff to Navigation House (later Abercynon) for freight and passengers

23rd April

1841

Formal opening Abercynon to Merthyr Tydfil (Plymouth Street) for freight and passengers


1841

Branch lines from Pontypridd - Dinas (Rhondda) and Pontypridd - Llancaiach opened; latter using horse power


1845

West Yard (works) opened


1846

Formal opening of the Aberdare Railway from Abercynon to Aberdare.


1847

Treforest station opened


1847

The Aberdare Railway was leased to the TVR.


1849

Rhondda branch extended into Rhondda Fach: Porth to Ynyshir


1850

600,000 tons carried to Cardiff

13th July

1853

Board agreed to replacing handwritten tickets with Edmundsen card


1854

1 million tons annually of coal raised in Aberdare valley


1854

Aerw Branch opened


1856

Rhondda branch lines extended to Ferndale, Maerdy and Treherbert


1857

Main line doubled throughout


1857

First TVR built loco - Venus


1858

Quaker's Yard Station opened


1858

There had been 8 locomotive superintendents since 1840.

4th July

1859

Penarth Tidal opened


1861

Ystrad station opened


1862

2 million tons annually of coal raised in Aberdare valley

July

1862

Penarth Harbour Dock and Railway leased to TVR for 999 years

7th January

1863

Passenger services to Treherbert begin


1863

Pwllyrhebog line opened


1863

Llancaiach line doubled


1865

Cowbridge Railway (Llantrisant to Aberthaw) opened

10th June

1865

Penarth Dock opened


1866

Dare Valley line opened


1866

Radyr storage sidings and shed developed


1867

Main incline, Abercynon, replaced by easier gradient


1869

George Fisher becomes Locomotive Superintendent


1872

North curve directly linked Rhondda to Merthyr at Pontypridd


1873

Rhymney Railway delivers 229,650 Tons of coal to Radyr in year


1873

Tom Hurry Riches became locomotive superintendent succeeding G Fisher

T_Hurry_Riches_1907-1908












1876

Passenger trains started to Ferndale

19th October

1878

First Hopkinstown Accident


1878

Blaencwm/Blaenrhondda line leased to TVR

20th February

1878

Penarth Town to Cardiff service started


1882

Share dividend 17.5%

1st June

1883

Merthyr Vale and Radyr stations opened


1883

Rhonnda coal production surpasses that of Aberdare Valley


1883

Coal and coke shipments from Cardiff of 9 Million tons (all railways)


1884

Cathays shed opened


1886

Pentrebach station opened


1887

Roath Branch to Cardiff Docks opened for freight only; Roath Dock opened

1st December

1887

Passenger service Penarth to Lavernock opened, Cardiff, Penarth & Barry Junction Railway (CPBJ)

3rd December

1888

First passenger train Penarth to Cadoxton blocked by Barry Railway (BR)

1st July

1889

CPBJ, Cowbridge Railway,  Dare Valley, Llantrisant and Taff Vale, and Rhondda Valley. Treferig and Hirwaun Jct (Blaencwm/Blaenrhondda) lines amalgamated with TVR

8th July

1889

TVR temporary station at Biglis Junction


1889

Clydach extension privately built


1889

Passenger services to Maerdy begin


1889

3 million tons annually of coal raised in Aberdare valley


1889

Barry Railway at Trehafod junction with TVR opened

1st January

1890

Aberdare Junction and Ynysbwl passenger service starts

3rd May

1891

George Fisher died; was variously Superintendent, Engineer, General Manager, Director


1891

Newbridge station renamed Pontypridd


1891

General Manager Ammon Beasley

22nd May

1890

TVR passenger trains run through to Cadoxton BR


1890

Rhondda and Swansea Bay Railway links to TVR at Treherbert via Rhondda Tunnel

14th August

1893

Barry trains run through to Riverside GWR


1893

Introduced free, non-contributory pensions for all servants retiring after 25 years or more service.


1894

4 million tons annually of coal raised in Aberdare valley

1st January

1895

Cowbridge and Aberthaw Railway Co amalgamated


1896

Clydach extension taken over

27th October

1896

Board agrees Aberdare Junction to become Abercynon, also earlier known as Navigation House


1900

2 week strike by Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants

1st June

1900

Nelson to Pontypridd passenger service started


1901

Taff Vale Judgement

1st July

1902

Aberdare Railway amalgamated

18th September

1902

Pontypridd North track inspected; new box 135 levers


Taff Vale railmotor








26th December

1903

Rail motors started on Penarth to Cardiff


1903

Last locomotive built at West Yard was No.1 rail motor power unit.


1903

TVR Act of Parliament for Electric Traction

10th July

1904

Pontypridd to Nelson rail motor started.

17th October

1904

Ynysbwl rail motor introduced


1910

John Cameron becomes locomotive superintendent

23rd January

1911

Second Hopkinstown Accident

4th September

1911

T Hurry Riches died

27th June

1912

Royal visit to TVR Pontypridd, Rhondda and Dowlais

2nd November

1912

Ninian Park Station opened

7th November

1915

Pontypridd station new structures inspected


1917

Ammon Beasley retired


1922

J. Cameron cease to be locomotive superintendent TVR

1st January

1922

TVR became part of Great Western Railway (GWR)


1926

West Yard closes

February

1929

Penarth Dock shed closed

December

1930

Ystrad renamed Ystrad (Rhondda)

10th September

1932

Last Pontypridd to Nelson regular passenger train

6th July

1936

Penarth Dock temporarily closed

July

1940

Penarth Dock temporarily re-opened


1947

Penarth Dock closed to commercial traffic


1948

GWR became part of British Railways (Western Region)

1st July

1957

Pwllyrhebog Branch closed

26th November

1957

Llantrisant to Cowbridge passenger closed

26th July

1952

Last Pontypridd to Ynysbwl regular passenger train

31st March

1952

Pontypridd to Llantrisant passenger closed

21st September

1953

Regular interval services introduced (proposed by Rev T Phillips)

September

1959

Pontypridd to Llantrisant freight closed

January

1958

DMU introduced


1961

Cathays shed closed to steam.

14th March

1964

Last Aberdare branch passenger train

16th March

1964

Cardiff Riverside and Clarence Road shut


1964

Ferndale Branch Closed to passengers

November

1964

Abercynon steam shed closed, and Cathays shed shut.

6th April

1965

Llandough sidings taken out of use

1st November

1965

Llantrisant to Cowbridge freight closed

21st March

1966

Grangetown and Cogan Junction up and down relief taken out of use


1966

Blaenrhonnda branches shut

6th May

1968

Penarth to Cadoxton closed


1968

Roath Branch Closed to freight

November

1969

Penarth Cement works and therefore railway closed from Penarth

6th January

1972

Treherbert to Cwmparc singled


1977

Aerw branch shut


1986

Ferndale Branch closed to freight


1986

Ynyswen station opened

21st December

1986

Ystrad (Rhondda) station renamed Ton Pentre


1987

Cardiff Queen Street station rebuilt

2nd October

1988

(Re-)introduction of regular passenger trains between Pontypridd and Aberdare


TVR No.19TVR No.40TVR I classTVR iron mink


TVR Carriage Restoration

The diary of a restoration project to return TVR No.73 to regular passenger use at the Swindon and Cricklade Railway

Selected Reading  

  • The Taff Vale Railway. - 1950 by Barrie, D. S. M., Oakwood Press.
  • Taff Vale Miscellany. - 1988 by Hutton, John, Oxford Publishing Company. ISBN 0860932414
  • South Wales Branch Lines. H. Morgan, Ian Allan Ltd, 1984. ISBN 0711016017
  • Taff Vale Railway Volume 1 :The main line from Cardiff to Merthyr, and Bute West & East Docks, Cardiff. - 2006 by Hutton, John, Silver Link Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1857942493
  • Taff Vale Railway Volume 2 :Rhondda Fawr, Rhondda Fach, Roath and Aberdare branches. - 2006 by Hutton, John, Silver Link Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1857942507
  • Taff Vale Railway Volume 3 :Branches to Penarth and Cadoxton, Ynysybwl, Llancaiach, Llantrisant, Cowbridge and Aberthaw. - 2006 by Hutton, John, Silver Link Publishing Ltd. ISBN 1857942575
  • The Cowbridge Railway. - 1984 by Chapman, Colin, Oxford Publishing Co. ISBN 0860932842
  • The Llantrisant Branches of the Taff Vale Railway. - 1996 by Chapman, Colin, Oakwood Press. ISBN 0853614814
  • The Nelson & Ynysybwl Branches of the Taff Vale Railway. - 1997 by Chapman, Colin, Oakwood Press. ISBN 0853615728
  • The Aberdare Railway. by Mountford, Eric R. & Kidner, R. W., Oakwood Press. ISBN 0853614741
  • The Taff Vale Lines to Penarth. - 1993 by Mountford, Eric R. & Spinks, N., Oakwood Press. ISBN 0853614407
  • Hopkinstown 1911. - 2005 by Carpenter, David J., Tempus Publishing. ISBN 0752432508
  • The "Servents" of Steam. - 1991 by Rhondda Borough Council.
  • Great Inclinations. - 1991 by Three Valleys Research Group, Merthyr Tydfil. ISBN 0853614741
  • Six Railways to Merthyr, Hodge, John. WRRC, 2014. ISBN 978-09527267-7-7.
  • Locomotives of the GWR, Volume 10 Absorbed Companies 1922-1947. RCTS
  • A Register of G. W. R. Absorbed Coaching Stock, 1922-1923. Eric Mountford, Oakwood Press, Dorset, 1978

  • Notes prepared by Basil Stephens, et al.