Report - - Abernant Tunnel- Merthyr Tydfil- Feb '12 | Underground Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Abernant Tunnel- Merthyr Tydfil- Feb '12


The Rock Man
28DL Full Member
Many thanks for cunningcorgi showing me around for a day of Welsh train tunnels!


In 1845, Isambard Kingdom Brunel surveyed and prepared parliamentary plans for the Vale of Neath Railway which involved a 2,497-yard hole through the hill between Merthyr Tydfil and Aberdare, the second longest of Wales' tunnels. 650 feet below ground at its deepest point, it was built to accommodate broad gauge and formed part of the 6¼-mile Gelli Tarw Junction-Merthyr extension, opening on 2nd November 1853. It regularly takes two names - Merthyr, which is to its east, and Abernant.
The contractor (Mr Davis) sunk two construction shafts, 1,280 yards apart, from which he drove 7-foot headings. One of these shafts was 282 feet deep. A system of troughs and fans pumped air down to the face whilst a 1-inch diameter pipe forced water at high-pressure through ‘roses’ into the workings to clear the powder-smoke hanging in the air after blasting.
A third rail was added to the predominantly single track route in 1863, allowing GWR trains to reach Swansea. The broad gauge rail was removed and the line converted to standard gauge on 11th May 1872.
In the mid-1870s, the tunnel partly collapsed as a goods train passed through, almost burying the locomotive. Locals declared the structure to be dangerous, a claim unsurprisingly contradicted by the investigating officer. Subsidence caused by mining beneath the tunnel later resulted in part of the structure settling by 10 feet.
The S-shaped bore has masonry walls and a brick-lined roof. Close to its centre are two platelayers’ cabins. At the western end, for around 400 yards, the bore is wide enough for a double track layout; two small buildings mark the point where it suddenly becomes single.
The route was closed to traffic on 31st December 1962.

1 eastern portal


2 The start of the tunnel


3 Workers Refuge


4 Near the centre of the tunnel is what looks like a makeshift chapel


5 Looking in


6 Book of mormon


7 In the darkness


8 Near the western portal the tunnel opens up


9 Looking Back


10 Western Portal



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