Clydach Gorge

Running about three miles from Brynmawr down to Gilwern, the beautiful Clydach Gorge is a natural passage-way between the lush farmlands of the Usk Valley and the barren moors of Northern Gwent and Breconshire.  It is a site of Special Scientific Interest and has been exploited since prehistoric times as shown by the two claimed Iron Age forts that guard the entrance into the valley.  By the 17th Century the valley was becoming industrialised, the Llanelly furnace and forge had been established at Maes Gwartha and, by 1684 were producing large quantities of iron and charcoal.  By 1693 Clydach House had been built along with a number of workers’ cottages.  It was at Clydach House in 1841 that Sir Bartle Frere was born, a High Commissioner of South Africa who unwittingly helped start the Zulu wars.  The Clydach Iron Works, founded before 1795, followed the recent introduction of coke as fuel and up until the 1860’s employed over 1,350 people many being children under the age of 13.  The valley has the densest network of surviving early tram road routes anywhere in Wales, one of which was replaced by the Merthyr, Tredegar & Abergavenny Railway in 1862.  The Gorge is still an important connecting route for the A465 Heads of the Valley Road that runs on to Swansea, connecting the Midlands with the Irish Ferry system.

 

Eifion Lloyd Davies ©2015

Joby's Pitch

Joby ran a knackers yard under the road coming down into Brynmawr. The road was supported by arches and he had his business in one of them. - horses for cat food and glue.

Clydach Bridge
Clydach Bridge
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Jobys pitch 07
Jobys pitch 07
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Jobys Pitch 01
Jobys Pitch 01
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Jobys Pitch 02
Jobys Pitch 02
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Jobys Pitch 06
Jobys Pitch 06
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Jobys Pitch 04
Jobys Pitch 04
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Jobys Pitch 05
Jobys Pitch 05
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Jobys Pitch 03
Jobys Pitch 03
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Clydach Gorge from Gilwern Hill -  accessible from B4246 Blaenafon – Llanfoist Road

Viewed from Gilwern Hill looking north towards Brynmawr, this cleft into the limestone coal basin provided a natural link between Usk Valley and coalfield, and thus made the Brecon Canal commercially viable. Utilised by mule trains, tramroads, turnpike, railway and modern roads, the gorge became the most intensively-used industrial route in Wales. Small-scale charcoal-fired furnaces and forges were established here in the 17th Century. In 1841, Sir Bartle Frere – South African High Commissioner instrumental in starting the Zulu Wars- was born at Clydach House near the family’s Clydach Ironworks.

The valley’s natural beech woods are now a “Site of Special Scientific Interest”.

Pont Harry Isaac built 1793
Pont Harry Isaac built 1793
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Pont Harry Isaac
Pont Harry Isaac
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Clydach Gorge Snow
Clydach Gorge Snow
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Clydach Gorge 08
Clydach Gorge 08
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Clydach Gorge 07
Clydach Gorge 07
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Clydach Gorge 06
Clydach Gorge 06
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Clydach Gorge 05
Clydach Gorge 05
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Clydach Gorge 04
Clydach Gorge 04
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Clydach Gorge 03
Clydach Gorge 03
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Clydach Gorge 02
Clydach Gorge 02
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Clydach Gorge 01
Clydach Gorge 01
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Clydach Gorge09
Clydach Gorge09
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Clydach Gorge 10
Clydach Gorge 10
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Clydach Village

Clydach village 03
Clydach village 03
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Clydach  village 02
Clydach village 02
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Clydach  village 01
Clydach village 01
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Clydach village 1948
Clydach village 1948
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Black Rock

Until the A465 Road was completed in 1962, traffic from Brynmawr to Gilwern had to use this narrow road which had a steep gradient.

Black Rock 09
Black Rock 09
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Blackrock
Blackrock
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Black Rock 08
Black Rock 08
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Black Rock 03
Black Rock 03
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Black Rock 04
Black Rock 04
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Black Rock
Black Rock
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Blackrock 1929
Blackrock 1929
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Black Rock 2
Black Rock 2
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Lime Kilns black rock
Lime Kilns black rock
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Bus going down Black Rock
Bus going down Black Rock
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Lorries on Black Rock
Lorries on Black Rock
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The A465 Heads Of The Valleys Road

This road was a single carriageway construction, and work began in March 1960, the road was opened to traffic in 1962

HOV widening 1960
HOV widening 1960
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HOV widening 1960 02
HOV widening 1960 02
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HOV widening 1960 03
HOV widening 1960 03
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HOV widening 1960 04
HOV widening 1960 04
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HOV Road 1960,s
HOV Road 1960,s
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HOV Roundabout 1982
HOV Roundabout 1982
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Conoco Garage 1982
Conoco Garage 1982
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HOV Road 1982
HOV Road 1982
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HOV Roundabout 1982 02
HOV Roundabout 1982 02
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HOV 1999
HOV 1999
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HOV 1999 02
HOV 1999 02
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Recent year before dualling
Recent year before dualling
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Recent year before dualling 02
Recent year before dualling 02
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Dualling of the A465 Heads Of The Valleys Road

In late 2014, work commenced on widening the section of the road from Brynmawr to Gilwern to a dual-carriageway