Pencaedrain Tunnel

(Photos 1, 2 & 5 © Ceri Jones, photos 3, 4, 6-9 © Sparhawk)

Authorised by an Act of Parliament on 3rd August 1846, the first section of the Vale of Neath railway to open was the main line to Gelli Tarw Junction. Its first traffic rumbled over the broad gauge line on 24th September 1851. Mixed gauge arrived in 1863, with standard gauge completely taking over on 11th May 1872.

Mr Ritson was superintendent and contractor for the construction of a curved 526-yard tunnel near Cefn Rhigos. Although its eastern entrance is now buried beneath the Heads of the Valleys dual carriageway, the west portal survives. Like the bore's sidewalls, it is a masonry structure. Inside, the crown of the arch is brick.

A stream now runs down the middle of the tunnel and the standing water is ankle deep at the portal. There are several refuges and close to the centre is the entrance to a passageway which might have been driven as an intermediate access gallery during construction.

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June 10

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