Report - GelliFelen Twin Tunnels, South Wales - November 2012

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28DL Regular User
Regular User
Apr 12, 2011
Visited with wonkycows


Gelli Felen’s original single bore tunnel opened with the first section of the Merthyr, Tredegar and Abergavenny Railway in September 1862. The line’s principal driving force was Crayshaw Bailey, a major local industrialist, whose influence was crucial in attracting investors. In 1860, it was his wife who cut the first sod to mark the start of construction but a year later, with the company’s finances looking precarious, the London & North Western Railway had to ride to the project’s rescue, taking over its management.

The Abergavenny-Brynmawr section, engineered by John Gardner, involved eight bridges, two tunnels and a climb of over 1,000 feet, placing it amongst the steepest stretches of railway in the UK with one three-mile section demanding a rising gradient of 1 in 34.

The tunnel, just 352 yards long, incorporates a curve of 90° to the north and is mostly masonry lined. Some patches of engineering brick are to be found, especially in the second southerly tunnel which appeared in 1877 when the route was doubled in an effort to maximise traffic flows. The bores are linked by two adits which are now partly flooded.

Timetabled services hit the buffers on Saturday 4th January 1958. The following day, the very last train - a special - made its way through, bringing the line’s life to an end and saving British Rail around £60,000 a year in maintenance costs.


Again, a return visit after the summer weather produced mince like photo oppertunities and also because the tunnels have been taken over by Railway Paths. The first thing they seemed to do was block the original bore with pallastine fencing even though it had always been open since Jesus was in short pants. Last tunnel visit of 2012 and only getting round to sorting it now.

1. Western portals, up on the right and down (original) on the left.

2. Heading through the down tunnel

3. Hitting the curve, down tunnel

4. Approaching eastern portal, down tunnel

5. View back the down tunnel

6. Inside western portal, up tunnel

7. Sootier, dirtier up tunnel

8. Looking back west

9. Up tunnel curve

10. Blackness

11. Up tunnel, eastern portal

12. Eastern portals

Thanks for looking.

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