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Golden Valley Railway - Associated Railway Ventures in the 1800s

Place name:

Ewyas Lacy




In the early to mid 1800s Britain was caught up in a fever of railway construction. The Golden Valley Railway from Pontrilas to Dorstone [ later extended to Hay] was one of the later comers on the scene, and the fact that it was built at all rested in large part on the network of other railways that had previously sprung up around Ewyas Lacy and Herefordshire. Those with the closest connections were the Hereford Railway from Abergavenny to Hereford and the Hay Railway from Brecon via Hay and Eardisley to Hereford. These two lines at either end of the Hundred of Ewyas Lacy and of the Dore Valley were eventually to be linked by the Golden Valley Railway, and it was upon those links that much of the business prospectus for building the GVR was based.

The Hereford Railway to the south - later the Newport Abergavenny and Hereford Railway, then the West Midland Railway [1860] and afterwards the Great Western Railway [1863] - was itself and amalgam of three earlier companies that had operated a horse-drawn tramway from Hereford to Abergavenny. These were the Llanfihangel Railway the Grosmont Railway and the Hereford Railway, each of which is described in more detail later below.


The Herefordshire Council Historic Environment Record (entry number 19262) description of the Hay Railway to the north and east of Ewyas Lacy is as follows:

‘The Hereford, Hay-on-Wye and Brecon railway was built up the Wye Valley in stages, but was finally opened at Hereford in September 1864. The line linked up with the Mid Wales Railway and the Brecon & Merthyr Railway.

The first section of the Hereford, Hay-on-Wye & Brecon Railway was agreed by Act of Parliament on 8th August 1859. It opened between Hereford and Moorhampton to goods traffic on 24th October 1862, to Eardisley for goods and passengers on 30th June 1863 and reached Hay-on-Wye on 11th July 1864.

The line reached the Three Cocks Junction on 19th September 1864, and the remainder of the line to Brecon had been taken over by different railway companies before construction had even begun. The section from Three Cocks to Talyllyn became part of the Mid Wales Railway and the Talyllyn to Brecon section was part of the Brecon & Merthyr Railway.

At first trains entering Hereford on this line used the Moorfields Station to the west of the city but when this station closed the Brecon trains were diverted to Barrs Court Station. The line could be used to get to Swansea, a journey which took four hours to cover the 79 miles and stopped at 24 different stations on the way.

The Hereford, Hay-on-Wye & Brecon Railway later suffered difficulties and was taken over by the Midland Railway in 1874, which had been running a goods service to Hereford via Worcester since 1868. It saw the line as a convenient way to gain access to South Wales.

On 1st October 1864, the Hereford Times commented on the convenience and improved communication brought about by the Hereford, Hay-on-Wye & Brecon Railway:

"Instead of going to the coach office in Broad Street, and paying down a considerable sum even for a seat on the outside, we have only to go to the Barton Railway Station, pay a trifling sum at the little window, receive the ticket courteously rendered, take our seat in the convenient carriages, and on a twinkling we are shaking hands with our friends in Hay".

The railway came to be known as the "Egg and Bacon Railway" because of the farm produce that it used to bring into Hereford, especially on market day. (See The Limes Railway Embankment, Norton Canon. Watching Brief, Archenfield Archaeology report, 2002, copy held in the HER.)

In 1876 the line was taken over by the Midland Railway. The line eventually closed to passengers on 31st December 1962, and one of the last trains was provided by the Stephenson Locomotive Society, when almost 400 enthusiasts travelled on the line for the last time and were given photographic souvenirs. In 1964 the line was closed to goods traffic as well between Eardisley and Three Cocks Junction, and later the same year the line was closed completely.

Most of the stations along this line have disappeared entirely: Credenhill has been demolished and replaced by a social club; Moorhampton station is now a caravan site (although the platform edges and road bridge can still be seen); Kinnersley station is now used as a store; and Hay-on-Wye station has been completely demolished and the site is currently in commercial use.

[Original author: Miranda Greene, 2003]’


The internet at https://en.wikisource.org/ provides further details as follows:


51 George III. Cap. 122, Royal Assent 25th May, 1811.

52 George III. Cap. 106, Royal Assent 20th May, 1812.

THIS railway commences at the wharf of the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal, not far from the town of Brecon, and pursuing a circuitous course through a mountainous district, in some parts 670 feet or more above the level of the sea, it ends at the village of Eardisley, in the county of Hereford, where a junction of the Kington Railroad has since been made with it.

This undertaking was commenced in the latter end of the year 1811, under the authority of an act of the legislature, entitled, An Act for making and maintaining a Railway from or near the public Wharf of the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal, in the parish of St. John the Evangelist, in the county of Brecon, to or near to a certain Place called Parton Cross, in the parish of Eardisley, in the county of Hereford. But before the proprietors had advanced far in their work, they perceived the necessity of varying the line of their original design, and, consequently, went again to parliament for the purpose of obtaining a second act, which received the royal assent in 1812, and is styled, An Act for enabling the Company of Proprietors of the Hay Railway to amend, vary, and extend the Line of the said Railway, and for altering and enlarging the Powers of an Act passed in the Fifty-first Year of the Reign of his present Majesty, for making and maintaining the said Railway.

By the first act the proprietors have power to raise £50,000 in shares of £100 each, and a further sum of £15,000, if necessary, amongst themselves, or by the admission of new subscribers or by mortgage, or by promissory notes. The work commenced with a subscription, in £100 shares, of £47,500. Under the provisions of these acts the work has been completed; and the following are fixed as


For all Lime-stone, Stone for repairing Turnpike-Roads and Highways, Dung. Compost and all Sorts of Manure,except Lime, such a Sum as the Company shall direct, not exceeding

2d per Ton, per Mile.

For all Coal, Coke, Culm, Stone, Cinders, Marl, Lime, Sand, Clay, Peat, Iron.stone and other Minerals, Building-stone, Pitching and Paving-stone, Bricks, Tiles, Slates, Timber, Lead in Pigs or Sheets, Bar-iron, Waggon-tire, and all Gross and Unmanufactured Articles, a Sum not exceeding

4d per Ton, per Mile.

For all other Goods, Commodities, Wares and Merchandize whatsoever, a Sum not exceeding

6d ditto ditto.

Fractions of a Ton to be considered as Quarters of a Ton, and of a Mile as Quarters of a Mile. The Rate of Charge for small Parcels not exceeding Five Hundred Weight, to be fixed by the Company.

Owners and Occupiers of Land may pass on the said Railway free of Toll, as far as the same extends through their Lands, and may drive Cattle and Sheep along the same.

Lords of manors and owners of land, through which the road passes, may erect wharfs, &c. on the line; and if they refuse to do so, then the company are authorized. In case of lords of manors and others erecting wharfs, &c. the following rates will be allowed.


For Wharfage of all Goods mentioned as above

1d per Ton.

For Warehousing of all Parcels not weighing more than Fifty-six Pounds

1d each.

For ditto of all above Fifty-six Pounds, and not more than Five Hundred Weight

2d ditto.

For ditto of all Packages above Five Hundred Weight

6d ditto.

If they remain on a Wharf or in a Warehouse above Forty-eight Hours, then a further Charge may be made for the first Ten Days, of One Penny per Ton for Wharfage, and Three-pence per Ton for Warehousing; after the Space of Ten Days, the same Rates for every Day till removed.

The railroad was laid down by Mr. John Hodgkinson, who designed two lines of road, one twenty-six miles in length, without a tunnel, the estimate for which was £50,375, 12s.; the other twenty-four miles long, with a tunnel, and on a line which does not rise more than 7 inches in the chain, estimated at £52,743, 18s. This latter is the one adopted; and, taking the level line from the wharf of the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal, where the road commences, the rises and falls thereof, are as here stated, viz, from the wharf to the tunnel, (which latter is two furlongs five chains long,) in a distance of three miles and three quarters, arise of 169 feet 2 inches above the level; from the outlet of the tunnel, which is 184 feet 2 inches above the level line, there is a descent in eight miles of 154 feet 2 inches below the same; for the next four miles and three quarters, the road has a further fall of 95 feet; from that fall to the termination of the railroad at Eardisley village, being a distance of nearly seven miles and a half, there is a rise of 78 feet.
The advantages of this railroad to the owners of property on its line are very considerable, independent of the facilities it affords for the transit of goods, minerals, and other produce, by means of its cotmection with the Brecknock and Abergavenny Canal, the Kington Railroad, and, through it, with the Leominster Canal, and the extended line of country to which it thereby transfers the produce carried along it.



To the south of the GVR the Herefordshire Council Historic Environment Record (entry number 9413) for the Newport, Abergavenny & Hereford Railway is as follows:

‘The line had its origins in the Welsh Midland Railway scheme of the 1840s. It gained an Act of Parliament in 1846, which involved the Newport, Abergavenny & Hereford Railway buying out three companies that operated the horse-drawn tramway from Hereford to Abergavenny. The terminus of the Newport to Hereford line was to be the Barton Street Station in the east of the city.

The first train arrived in Hereford on 6th December 1853, and took part in joint celebrations with the Shrewsbury & Hereford Railway Company who had also just started running trains into the county (see The "Great Railway Fete").

Over the next 20 years the fortunes of the Newport & Hereford line were mixed and it suffered from financial insecurity. It was helped out by the opening of a Birmingham to Cardiff via Hereford route by the Great Western Railway in 1874, which increased goods and passenger traffic through Barton Street. In 1886, the opening of the Severn Tunnel improved north to west communication and routes were opened up to Penzance and Plymouth in the south-west and Glasgow and Edinburgh in the north. Passenger services now began to run overnight from this small city station.

By the end of the 19th century Barton Street Station itself was considered surplus to requirements and it was closed on 2nd January 1893, with all services now using the Barrs Court Station. In November 1913 the Barton Street Station was demolished. During World War I the north and west route became vital for providing coal for Britain's navy. In the 1960s and 1970s the Newport, Abergavenny & Hereford line suffered like many other lines, passenger services declined and intermediate stations were closed.

The stations in Herefordshire on this line were Pontrilas, St Devereux for Kilpeck and the Tram Inn. The Tram Inn Station is a reminder that this line used some of the old horse-drawn tramway, which reached Hereford in 1829. In 1964, at the time of Dr. Beeching and nationalisation, Pontrilas, St Devereux and Tram Inn Station were closed but the line continued to run to Barrs Court Station in Hereford. Pontrilas Station is now used as holiday accommodation, St Devereux as a private house and Tram Inn is now the site of a car salesroom. On 21st June 1997 Pontrilas Timber Merchants began to use the sidings at Pontrilas to bring in supplies and this caused an extension line to be built here in the same year. Today the route from Newport and Abergavenny into Hereford is one of only three railway lines in existence in Herefordshire.

[Original author: Miranda Greene, 2003]’


The internet [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railways_in_Hereford and https://en.wikisource.org/ ] provides further details of the various railways companies and their history, extracts of which are reproduced below:




The Llanvihangel tramroad was opened from Abergavenny to Blaengavenny on 12th March 1814 and extended a short distance in 1818 to Llanvihangel Crucorney. Here it joined the Grosmont tramroad which was opened through to Monmouth Cap (about a mile south of Pontrilas) in 1819. An Act was obtained in 1826 for the purpose of making a tramroad, or railway, from the end of the Grosmont Railway at Monmouth Cap in the parish of Llangua to the Wye Bridge within the Liberties of the City of Hereford. A plate railway about 11¾ miles in length, it was opened on 21st September 1829 and the traffic worked by horses. All three tramroads were purchased by the Newport, Abergavenny & Hereford Railway under its Act of Incorporation in 1846, and the route followed by the new railway was largely that of the original tramroads.

    Traces of the old way can be seen on both sides of the former G.W.R. line between Hereford and Abergavenny, and also near Govilon and Clydach on the Abergavenny Junction to Merthyr line.



52 George III. Cap. 107, Royal Assent 20th May, 1812.

THIS railway was laid down by Mr. John Hodgkinson, who estimated the cost of completing the same at £12,000. The sum of £10,900 being subscribed in £100 shares, the work commenced under the sanction of the legislature in an act, entitled, An Act for making and maintaining a Railway from the End of the Llawihangel Railway in the parish of Liawihangel Crucorney, in the county of Monmouth, to or near to the Twelfth Mile-stone, in the Road leading from the town of Abergavenny, in the county of Monmouth, to the city of Hereford. The clause for remunerating the proprietors enacts the following as


Dung, Compost, Limestone, Manure and Materials for Roads

2d per Ton, per Mile.

Lime, Chalk, Marl, Ashes, Peat, Clay, Bricks and Sand

3d ditto ditto.

Coal, Cinders, Coke, Culm, Charcoal, Tin, Copper, Lead-ore, Pig or Sheet-lead, Iron-stone or Ore, Pig and Bar-iron, Timber, Tiles, Slates, Flag-stones and other Stones

4d ditto. ditto.

All other Goods, Wares, Merchandize and Things whatsoever

6d ditto. ditto.

A Fraction of a Ton to be considered as the Quarters contained in such Fraction; and a Fraction of a Quarter as One Quarter. A Fraction of a Mile to be considered as the Quarters contained in it, and of a Quarter as One Quarter.


For every Horse, Mare, Gelding, Colt, Mule, Ass, or other Beast carrying or drawing Goods, Wares or Merchandize liable to pay Tonnage Rates, and passing through any Stop-gate or other Gate on the Railway

0s 3d each.

For all Cows and Horned or Neat Cattle, except Sheep or Swine, driven loose on the said Railway

0s 2d ditto.

For all Sheep and Swine

1s 3d per Score.

All Waggons and Carriages carrying Persons for Hire on the said Railway, for each Passenger

0s 2d per Mile.

This tramroad, which may be considered a continuation of the Llanvihangel Railway, was designed to facilitate the communication with Herefordshire, and thereby contribute to the easier transit of the various products and commodities, both of import and export, and is nearly seven miles in length, from its commencement at the Llanvihangel Railway to its termination at Llangua Bridge.

The fund to be raised for the purposes of the act is £13,000, in £100 shares, with the power of raising a further sum of £7,000, either amongst themselves, or by creating new shares, or by mortgage.

When it is stated, that by this railway a difference in the level of from 166 to 168 feet is made in the distance above specified, it is hardly necessary to add, that were it even for nothing but the saving of time and labour in the conveyance of goods, the work could not fail to be of very great utility.


7 George IV> Cap. 100, Royal Assent 26th May, 1826.

WE have, in a former page, given an account of the Grosmont Railway, to which the present may be properly considered an addition. The act for executing it was obtained in 1826, and bears for its title, An Act for making and maintaining a Tramroad or Railway from the End of the Grosmont Railway, at Monmouth Cap, in the parish of Llangua, in the county of Monmouth, to Wye Bridge, in the parish of Saint Martin, within the Liberties of the city of Hereford. Locomotive engines are allowed by the act, and the following are appointed as


For all Dung, Compost, Lime-stone, Manure and Materials for repairing Roads

2d per Ton, per Mile.

For all Lime, Chalk, Marl, Peat, Ashes, Clay, Bricks and Sand

3d ditto. ditto.

For all Coals, Cinders, Coke, Cuim, Charcoal, Tin, Copper, Lead-ore, Lead in Pigs or Sheets, Iron-stone or Ore, Iron in Pigs, Bar-iron, Timber, Tiles, Slates, Flag.stones and other Stone

4d ditto. ditto.

For all other Goods, Wares, Merchandize and Things whatsoever

6d ditto. ditto.

Fractions of a Ton to be taken as the Number of Quarters in the Fractions, and of a Quarter as a Quarter. Fractions of a Mile as Quarters, and of a Quarter as a Quarter.

For passing along the road with cattle, &c. the following are the authorized tolls.


For every Horse, Mule, Ass or other Beast, (not carrying or drawing Goods, &c. liable to the previously stated Rates), which shall pass any Stop-gate or Toll-house

0s 3d each.

For all Cows, Horned or Neat Cattle, except Sheep and Swine

0s 2d ditto.

For all Sheep and Swine

1s 3d per Score.

For all Waggons and Carriages carrying Persons for Hire on the said Railway, for each Person so carried

0s 2d per Mile.

Small Parcels under Five Hundred Weight are to be paid for according to a Rate to be fixed by the Company.

The proprietors are empowered to raise £23,200 in shares of £100 each; and if need be, an additional sum of £12,000 by mortgage.

From an inspection of the communication with various parts of the kingdom, which will appear by referring to the map, it is evident that the execution of this railroad will prove of very great convenience to the owners of property on its line; the various productions of the particular district through which it is designed to be made, will thus have a ready conveyance, while, by the same means, the staple commodities of other places will be as easily conveyed to the towns in its vicinity.

The Parliamentary Bill to set up the Hereford railway is recorded in the Journals of the House of Commons:

[Journals of the House of Commons, Volume 81; 22 February 1826]



The Grosmont Railway was sold in 1846 to the Newport, Abergavenny and Hereford Railway Company for £16,250, along with the Llanvihangel Railway for £21,750 and the Hereford Railway for £19,460. The new company replaced the combined tramroads with a standard-gauge steam railway. The replacement railway was built to the north of the old line, while the tramroad became a road (now part of the main A465 road between Abergavenny and Hereford). At Werngifford a major remnant survives in the form of a 360m length of tramroad embankment with stone sleepers in situ. It is designated a scheduled ancient monument.[3]


Additional References:

Joseph Priestley: Priestley's Navigable Rivers and Canals, 1831

Helen J Simpson: The Day the Trains Came: the Herefordshire Railways, Gracewing Publishing, 1997

Coflein: National Monuments Record of Wales database: Grosmont Railway




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