Ancient Monuments

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Abersychan Railway

A Scheduled Monument in Abersychan, Torfaen (Tor-faen)

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Latitude: 51.732 / 51°43'55"N

Longitude: -3.0493 / 3°2'57"W

OS Eastings: 327628

OS Northings: 204223

OS Grid: SO276042

Mapcode National: GBR J3.23P9

Mapcode Global: VH79L.3Q9L

Entry Name: Abersychan Railway

Scheduled Date: 20 December 2007

Source: Cadw

Source ID: 4309

Cadw Legacy ID: GM597

Schedule Class: Transport

Category: Railway

Period: Post Medieval/Modern

County: Torfaen (Tor-faen)

Community: Abersychan

Traditional County: Monmouthshire


The Abersychan Limestone Railway was constructed c. 1826. The railway was very unusual for a region more used to tramroads - its wrought-iron fish-belly rail was unique in South Wales. The use of the rail was apparently due to speculative ironmasters from outside the region, who had opened the British Ironworks in a side valley to the west of Abersychan. Limestone quarries were opened in Cwm Lascarn to the east of Abersychan and the Limestone Railway constructed to transport the stone. The Railway ran south from the quarry on the east side of the valley for more than 1.7km before dropping to the valley floor by means of an incline, crossing the river and continuing (partly via the Blaenavon Railway) to reach the British Ironworks. The Abersychan Limestone Railway was in use for over two decades, before the Blaenavon Railway was converted to standard gauge and a new standard gauge incline was constructed linking it to the Ironworks. Operations at the Cwm Lascarn quarries ceased.

The majority of the Abersychan Limestone Railway on the east side of the valley survives as a revetted terrace with several embankments and a cutting, the whole falling at an average grade of 1:25. Many stretches of the railway boast complete rows of stone blocks. Investigation by John van Laun (2001, p 40-5) has revealed that the track consisted of wrought-iron fish-belly rails (rather than the more usual plate rails or cast-iron bars).

The monument is of national importance for its potential to enhance our knowledge of the development of industrial transportation in the nineteenth century. This rare surviving section of railway is a vivid illustration of the scale of the industrial ironworking landscape, the unusual construction technique and brief period of use representing a well-preserved single phase in the development of early limestone transportation methods. The track bed, embankments and revetments may be expected to contain archaeological information in regard to construction techniques and functional detail.

The area scheduled comprises the remains described and an area around them within which related evidence may be expected to survive.

Source: Cadw

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