Penarth Dock, South Wales - 150 years - the heritage and legacy  
Penarth Dock, South Wales - the heritage & legacy . . .

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Volume One - Into the Victorian Age - The Taff Vale Railway (TVR) . . .

The history of the Ely Tidal Harbour and the Penarth Dock is interwoven within the development of the Taff Vale Railway (TVR). The company crest carried the motto "Cymru fu a Chymru fydd" which roughly translated means "Wales hath been, and Wales shall be." The following extract is from the “The South Wales Coal Annual for 1908” [039]

Taff Vale Railway emblem
"Oldest amongst the Welsh Railways, the Taff Vale has for nearly three-quarters of a century taken a unique part in the building up and development of the great iron and coal trade of South Wales. In the dawn of the nineteenth century, the production of Welsh coal was limited to the needs of the iron works which dotted the northern outcrop of the coal basin. This trade had already reached such dimensions as to justify the construction between 1790 and 1798 of the Glamorganshire and Monmouthshire Canal connecting the furnaces of Merthyr and the harbour of Cardiff.

Rapidly the Welsh iron trade expanded and the canal became crowded with traffic. The necessarily slow and tedious process of dragging the barges down the long waterway with its numerous locks was found incapable of dealing effectively with the growing tonnage, and ironmasters and coalowners found their business injured by the delays in getting their produce to the sea.

As the century advanced, the traffic grew. With the prospect of handsome profits from increased trade, in 1835 Sir Josiah Guest, the head of the Dowlais ironworks, Walter Coffin, the coal owner, and others, called into council Isambard Brunel, the chief Railway Engineer of the day, with the view of constructing a railway from Merthyr to Cardiff, with branches to various ironworks and collieries en route.

In the sixth year of the reign of His Most Excellent Majesty William IV, or, to be more explicit, on June 4th, 1836, an Act received the Royal Assent, entitled “An Act for making a Railway from Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff, to be called the Taff Vale Railway.” Sir John Guest became chairman of the company.

It is recorded that the first train in October 1840 traveled from Cardiff to Pontypridd, a distance of twelve miles, in thirty-one minutes, some portion of the distance being performed at a rate of 40 miles an hour. . .


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