Brecon & Merthyr Tydfil Junction Railway

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Relevant Acts

20th May 1825

'Old Rumney' incorporated as 4'2'' Tramroad from Pwll-y-Llaca, Abertysswg to Pye Corner (below Bassaleg) connected with the Nine Mile Point Tramroad of the Monmouthshire Canal Co. The extension from Pwll-y-Llaca to Rhymney Ironworks was constructed by the Iron Company.

9th November 1858

The Company's Bill published.

1st August 1859

Talybont to Pant (Dowlais) and junction with Dowlais Railway authorised

15th May 1860

Brecon - Talybont authorised (along Hay Tramroad from Talyllyn), plus Talyllyn East Loop and West junction with Mid Wales Railway at Talyllyn.

1st August 1861

'Old Rumney' Tramroad reincorporated as Rumney Railway Company with powers to convert to a Railway. Machen to Caerphilly authorised.

6th August 1861

Brecon & Merthyr (Extension) Act Pant to Deri. Act also covered Rhymney Railway portion Deri to Bargoed North Jn and to secure possession of the Hay Railway.


Abandonment of Dowlais Railway Connection and making of line to Merthyr substituted.

28th July 1862

Pontsticill Jn to Rhydycar Jn authorised - Joint with London & North Western Railway from Morlais Jn after 1875. (L&NWR into Merthyr June 1879).

28th July 1863

B&MR purchases the Rumney Railway (the 'Old Rumney'), which also gave them running powers (by 1861 Act) over GWR (Monmouthshire Railway) from Bassaleg Jn to Newport - also gave powers north of Maesycwmmer to the West Midlands Railway Act also authorised connection from Rumney Railway at Gilfach Jn to Rhymney Railway at Bargoed South Jn. and the Junction between Rhymney and B&M Railways at Deri (with abandonment of part of Railway authorised by Act of 06.08.1861). Act gave running powers over the intervening portion of Rhymney Railway (Deri to Bargoed Sth Jn).

4th June 1864

Act gave B&MR running powers to Caerphilly and Cardiff (never used) and powers to build a 'short' connection from Bedwas to the Newport, Abergavenny & Hereford Railway (Never built), with running powers up to Middle Duffryn in the Aberdare Valley.

5th July 1865

Pant to Dowlais (Lloyd Street) authorised. Act to amalgamate B&MR and Hereford, Hay and Brecon Railway (Effective 25.08.1865).


Agreement that B&MR should join the 'Vale of Neath' Railway at Rhydycar Jn and run into Merthyr High St.

15th July 1867

Ratification of agreement with L&NW and B&M re junctions at Dowlais Top and Ivor Junction.

13 July 1868

B&MR Amalgamation Act. Hereford Hay & Brecon reconstituted (B&MR and H,H and B resumed separate status)

18th May 1874

Agreement with LNWR that Morlais Jn to Rhydycar Jn become a Joint Line.)

19th July 1875

LNWR Act giving powers to extend from Dowlais (Penywern Jn) to B&MR at Morlais Jn and to make the section Morlais Jn to Rhydycar Jn Joint line.


The Machen Loop Act gives the PC&NR the right to double track the Caerphilly branch, with the separate route from Gwaunybara to Machen.

19th August 1921

The Railways Act 1921 under which the B&MR becomes absorbed into the enlarged GWR.

Significant Dates

c. June 1815

Brinore Tramroad opened Talybont on Usk - Trevil - Bryn Oer Patch (on the Common north of Rhymney Hill) 3'6'' Gauge. Horse worked.

7th July 1816

Hay Tramroad Hay to Brecon opened for Goods Traffic Horse Worked.


'Old Rumney' Tramroad opened with horse traction Rumney Iron Works to Bassaleg. (NB Railway & Canal Historical Society say 1831)


Steam locos on 'Old Rumney' (Traders locos introduced during the 1840's)

December 1858

Agreement with Breconshire Railway & Canal Co to use their Talybont - Brecon Section. (The Canal Co had proposed to turn itself into a Railway thus saving the B&MR going to Parliament for this portion)

18th January 1860

First sod cut at Torpantau (Pedolau Farm)

6th August 1860

Talyllyn Jn to Brecon bought from Hereford, Hay & Brecon.

August 1860

Agreement with Davies and Savin to work the line.

17th December 1861

Contractors loco reached 'Dowlais' - which was in effect Pant.

Summer 1862

First train through Torpantau Tunnel (Pant to Talybont)

28th August 1862

Directors Special Pant to Talybont (Canal bridge not completed. Train ran from temporary platform near Canal bridge at Pennorth)

By 4th Nov 1862

Rails laid Talybont to Pennorth (4½ miles from Brecon)

6th October 1862

Special train for members of the Board of Health to official opening of Dolygaer Reservoir.

1st January 1863

Ballast train reached Brecon.

20th January 1863

Trials run Brecon to Pant (outward with passengers, returned with passengers and 17 wagons of coal)

By 30th Jan 1863

Goods Traffic 'in operation' Pant to Brecon.

12th February 1863

Talybont to Pant failed Inspecting Officer.

14th March 1863

Talybont to Pant inspected and approved. Horse bus connection then provided Pant to Merthyr.

19th March 1863

Passenger trains Talybont to Pant with 'coach' connections to Brecon and to Merthyr. Original Stations were Talybont, Dolygaer and Pant.

19th March 1863

Special train ran Pant to Brecon carrying a Judge commissioned to hold the Lent Assizes at Brecon.

21st April 1863

Talybont to Brecon inspected and approved.

23rd April 1863

First official passenger train from Brecon (Watton). Brecon to Pant opened for goods.

1st May 1863

Normal service commenced from Brecon to Pant (Passenger and Goods)

28th December 1863

Connecting spur into use by GWR. Maesycwmmer Jn (GW) to Maesycwmmer Jn (B&MR) -( 58 chains long)


Caerphilly Branch opened as a Mineral Line - connected with Rhymney Railway which was a Mineral line to Wernddu from 1859.

19th September 1864

Hereford, Hay & Brecon services into Brecon.

21st September 1864

Mid Wales services into Brecon. Talyllyn East Loop Opened.

7th June 1865

Board of Trade Inspection Bassaleg Jn to Pengam (The third in six months)

By 1865

Bryn Oer Tramway ceased to be used.

14th June 1865

Tramroad (Old Rumney) converted to Railway by this date and passenger service started Pengam to Newport (Dock Street) - Possible that mineral traffic continued during conversion.

25th August 1865

B&MR took over the HH&B (but invalid as shareholders not consulted)

16th April 1866

Passenger and Goods service commenced Pengam (Mon) to Rhymney - with horse bus connection to Dowlais. Inspected 25.04.1866

6th February 1866

Receiver appointed after the failure of Thomas Savin.

c. 1866

High level track laid Brecon Jn (Heol Lladron) to Free St (Heol Rhydd)


B&MR allowed to work coal traffic to Newport.

1st August 1867

Opened Pant to Dowlais Top (Passenger and Goods). Opened (Pass) Pontsticill Jn to Cefn (Horse Bus Cefn to Merthyr)

1st June 1868

Opened (Pass and Goods) Cefn to Merthyr - Running powers over the Vale of Neath from Rhydycar Jn. B&MR was third company into Merthyr (TVR and Vale of Neath were first and second)

1st Aug 1868 (?)

Llwyncelyn Jn to Cyfarthfa Ironworks opened, 23 chains.

1st Aug 1868 (?)

12ch West of Rhydycar Jn to Ynysfach Ironworks opened (may have been opened by 01.08.1867)

1st September 1868

Opened Dowlais Top to Pengam. Brecon - Newport (Dock Street) services now commenced.


HH&B reconstituted. B&MR and HH&B resumed separate status.

1st October 1868

Mid Wales Railway ran Brecon - Hereford Trains.

22nd October 1868

Mid Wales used Mount Street as terminus - Later reverted to Watton (01.03.1871 ?)

23rd June 1869

Opened Pant to Dowlais Lloyd St (Pass and Goods)

1st October 1869

Midland Railway took over the HH&B (used Watton until 01.03.1871, then Free Street)

1st March 1871

Free Street Station opened - used by B.& M and Midland.

13th March 1871

GWR commenced use of Maesycwmmer Jn to Rhymney (Via B& M Route)

1st May 1871

Mid Wales services moved from Watton to Free Street.

6th March 1872

N&B trains first used Free Street (Extract from letter to N&B Directors dated 06.03.1872)

1st June 1879

Through service LNWR Abergavenny Line to Merthyr High Street commenced (09.06.1879 also quoted)


B&M passenger services transferred from Newport Dock Street to High street station.

4th May 1885

LNWR Passenger service to Dowlais Lloyd St via Penywern Jn and Ivor Jn terminated; Dowlais High St LNWR Station opened on through line to Merthyr.


Connection opened Ynysfach Jn to Cyfarthfa Works.

28th December 1887

PC&N starts working passenger service Newport - Pontypridd via Machen.

14th September 1891

PC&N opens line from Machen to Gwaunybara Jn and transfers ownership to the B&M in return for 50% of the net earnings of the Caerphilly branch.

1st January 1899

GWR takes over working service Newport - Pontypridd services from the PC&Ns successor, the ADR.


RR starts Railmotor service between Senghenydd and Machen via Caerphilly.

1st January 1917

GWR withdraws Newport - Pontypridd service and ADR extends service from Caerphilly to Machen to compensate; RR Railmotor service reduced.

5th May 1919

RR withdraws Railmotor service between Caerphilly to Machen.

1st July 1922

B&M Railway absorbed by Great Western Railway.

Note: The Plaque that existed on Talyllyn Junction Station commemorating the Tunnel construction referred to enlargement and re-opening by the B&MR Railway on 1 May 1863. This was the date 'normal' service Brecon to Pant commenced but the first official passenger train had passed on 23 04.1863.

Brecon & Merthyr Map

Lines Doubled

1st April 1884

Bassaleg - Machen


Elliot Pit Jn - Whiterose (Insp 30.05.1885)

By 2nd Oct 1896

Machen - Bedwas c 10.1896

By 7th Dec 1896

Bedwas - Maesycwmmer

By 11th Jan 1901

Aberbargoed - Elliot Pit Jn

14th Nov 1904

Whiterose - McLaren No 1

Lines Singled

8th - 9th April 1934

New Tredegar (Nth of 18.60 to 15.40)

June 1935

Aberbargoed Jn (Nth of) 15.40 to 16.18

11th Dec 1964

Pengam - Tredegar Jn Lower (Retaining wall at Fleur de Lis collapsed - Layout revised 04.07.1965)

4th July 1965

Bargoed - Pengam

15th Aug 1965

Machen - Trethomas

20th Nov 1967

Bassaleg - Machen

Lines closed to Passenger Services

28th June 1952

Ordinary Services Pant (Excl) - Dowlais Central (Workmen's Trains continued)

17th September 1956

Caerphilly (Excl) - Machen (Excl) - Except Caerphilly Works workmen's trains.

2nd May 1960 Official

Workmen's services Pant - Dowlais Central. Last trains 06.05.1960

13th November 1961

Pontsticill Jn (Excl - Merthyr (Excl)

31st December 1962

Brecon - Newport (Excl)

31st December 1962

Aberbargoed Jn - New Tredegar

1st July 1963

Caerphilly Works Trains Caerphilly - Machen - Newport

2nd May 1964

Last Special Passenger Train Cardiff - Brecon

Lines closed completely

14th April 1930

Due to landslip 11th April 1930. New Tredegar Colliery - New Tredegar (Excl). Taken out of use 19.09.1930.

1st March 1933

Rhymney Lower - McLarens (Excl)

31st December 1962

New Tredegar - Aberbargoed Junction (Excl)

31st December 1962

Fleur de lis - Bedwas (T.O.U. 18.08.1963)

31st December 1962

Brecon (Mount St) - Brecon Yard GF

5th August 1963

Deri Junction - Pant Junction

4th May 1964

Brecon (Watton Goods) - Dowlais

4th may 1964

Pontsticill Jn - Vaynor Quarry (Excl)

23rd August 1965

Ogilvie Colliery Branch Jn - Deri Junction

3rd October 1966

Vaynor Quarry - Rhydycar Junction

4th September 1967

Pengam Colliery Sth - Fleur de lis - Tredegar Lower Jn (Last train 16.08.1967)

9th August 1971

Britannia Colliery - Pengam Colliery Sth

12th November 1976

McLaren - New Tredegar Colliery

9th January 1977

Bargoed South Junction - Aberbargoed Junction

9th January 1977

Aberbargoed Jn - Britannia Colliery

8th April 1978

Bedwas - Machen Quarry (Excl)

3rd September 1978

Ogilvie Colliery - Bargoed Nth Junction (R. R. Section)


B & M No43 The earliest locomotives used by the B&M had been ordered by Savin and were supplied by Sharp, Stewart and Co. These were predominantly tender locos of 0-6-0 and 2-4-0 types. Subsequent acquisitions included saddle tanks of both 0-6-0 and 0-6-2 configurations and, following trials with a 2-4-0 Metro Tank borrowed from the GWR, a series of 2-4-0 side tanks with significantly increased boiler dimensions, which proved the mainstay of passenger services until the end of the company's life. Tank engines proved more practical and well before the end of the nineteenth century the company had disposed of all its tender locos. In the twentieth century the B&M entered the second-hand market purchasing locos that had originated on the GWR, LSWR and the Inland Dock and Waterways Board. In its final dozen or so years the company purchased a two series of modern 0-6-2 side tanks based on designs employed by the Rhymney Railway.

Rolling Stock

Passenger coaches followed a similar pattern to the locomotives with the company acquiring new stock in the nineteenth century - all four-wheelers, and second-hand in the twentieth with acquisitions, comprising both four- and six-wheel stock coming from the Mersey, Metropolitan and LSWR.
Goods vehicles were procured from a variety of sources, both new and second-hand, with the B&M works at Machen also rebuilding wagons. One ex-B&MR wagon, a four-plank open No 197 built by Renshaw in 1902, is preserved on the Severn Valley Railway.

WRRC Line Superintendent

WRRC Information Resource files

Locomotive And Rolling Stock totals for selected dates between 1904 and 1921.

Selected Reading  

Notes prepared by Bryan Wilson with additions and minor edits by Ray Caston and Rodney Hall.