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Dyffryn Llynfi Porthcawl Railway

CEFN SIGNAL BOX 1.12x9

Cefn Junction Signal Box

In 1825 a group of local landowners and businessmen established the horse-drawn Dyffryn Llynfi and Porthcawl Railway Company. It was to run from Maesteg in the Llynfi Valley down to the sea at Porthcawl where a new harbour had been built to serve the expanding coal and iron industries in the valleys North of Bridgend. 

The 17 mile line opened in 1828 and connected the harbour with the iron works at Cefn Cribbwr, Aberkenfig and Maesteg as well as with the Dyffryn Colliery. It was a single track line with passing places and was built to a 4ft 6 inch gauge. The rails were fixed to stone blocks in order to leave a clear path through which the horses and their handlers could walk. It descended 490 feet from its starting point near Caerau in Maesteg. By 1845 over 35,000 tonnes of coal and 21,000 tons of iron had been exported from its destination port of Porthcawl.

A timetable from 1855 shows that it took 6 ¼ hours to travel from Maesteg to Porthcawl whilst the return trip, with its steeper gradient, took 2 ¼ hours longer.

Passenger traffic started on the line in 1836, and in 1861 the track was converted for steam train useage.  Porthcawl soon became a popular destination for day trips and the line from Porthcawl to Cefn Cribbwr continued to operate until the 1960s when it was closed due to the Beeching Report.

The Dyffryn Llynfi and Porthcawl Railway walking trail is a varied and fascinating walk along the original route of the DLPR, taking in important industrial monuments and rare wildlife. Starting in the heart of the Llynfi Valley at the ancient market town of Maesteg, visitors are guided to Parc Tondu, a major attraction and educational resource surrounding the remains of Tondu Ironworks, the most complete Victorian ironworks in Wales. Then comes Parc Slip Nature Park which, after a century of coal mining on the site, is now a unique environment of wetlands, woodlands and meadows managed by the Wildlife Trust since the 1980s. In 1898, industrial development created the need for wider markets than the port of Porthcawl, leading to the establishment of the Port Talbot Railway. At the junction with the Porthcawl Branch of the new railway stood the Cefn Junction Signal Box, the next stop on the DLPR Trail. The final point on the old railway route is Bedford Park, a mix of industrial archaeology and rare plants and flowers based around the former 1780s ironworks established by John Bedford. Cyclists can enjoy the Celtic Trail which runs alongside the ironworks.

Visitors can scan the QR code (in the DLPR leaflet) at points along the Trail to access video links which bring the railway to life.

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