Merthyr Tydfil Tramroads and their Locomotives

£ 14.50


Softback – ISBN 978 0 901461 52 0    h = 230mm, w = 171mm, 88pp

35 photographs, 13 line drawings, 6 maps


By 1800 an abundance of raw materials had attracted four large ironworks to Merthyr Tydfil, high in the uplands of south Wales. There was just one drawback, and that was the distance from the sea. Efficient transport was essential if the industry was to flourish. The Glamorganshire Canal of 1794 was a partial solution, but it was prone to serious delays, caused by its numerous locks, and so in 1802 the Merthyr Tramroad (sometimes known as the Penydarren Tramroad) was opened to by-pass the most heavily congested sections.

Just two years later, in February 1804, this tramroad was the scene of the epoch-making run of Richard Trevithick’s locomotive, the first known steam locomotive to run on rails. Later many more locomotives were used on the tramroad, most of them highly idiosyncratic designs from the Neath Abbey Ironworks.

In this book, published to mark the 200th anniversary of the momentous events of February 1804, two authoritative writers describe the history of the Merthyr Tramroad and the other tramroads in the district and the locomotives which ran on them. The history of the tramroads by the late Gordon Rattenbury has not previously been published. Michael Lewis’s contribution on the locomotives represents an extensively revised and expanded version of his Steam on the Penydarren of 1975.

“a painstaking piece of research which pieces together the often fragmentary history . . . a must for those interested in early rail history and especially those with a tramroad interest” – Archive

“A fine reference work from a respected source” – Railways Illustrated