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Front cover of Narrow Gauge News 202 May 1994 Back in 1994 when I was editor of Narrow Gauge News I reported on the front page of issue 202 of a tramway find in South Wales. I had gleaned this information from one of our local free newspapers, the Bridgend Recorder of 26th March 1994, and duly quoted the report (almost) verbatim:

Archaeologists working for Ogwr Borough Council at the Bedford Ironworks, Cefn Cribbwr, Mid Glamorgan, have made some important discoveries recently at what is arguably the best-preserved example of a late 18th – early 19th century ironworks in Britain. The casting house, where molten iron would have been made into ‘pigs’ is being investigated and signs of the pig-beds with the casting sand have been uncovered.

In its final phase, between 1836 and 1852, the works was used as a foundry. Part of the casting-house and another adjacent building were used for this. Lines of stone sleeper blocks have been found leading away from the foundry, these held the rails of a tramway for transporting finished castings and raw materials.

The tramway stone blocks at Cefn Cribwr in January 1995I didn’t get round to visiting the site until ten months later on 5th January 1995 when I took a couple of photographs and subsequently made a brief mention in the journal of my visit:

As reported in NGN 202, a row of stone sleeper blocks has recently been uncovered at Bedford Ironworks. A visit to the site in January confirmed the existence of stone sleeper blocks from an early tramway. This was presumed to be of 4ft 6in gauge and connected to the Llynfi & Porthcawl tramroad. Unfortunately it was impossible to measure accurately as some parts were less than 4ft 6in but other blocks were as much as 6ft apart. The Ironworks is still under restoration and officially not open to the public.

Well, as you’ve made it this far without boredom setting in, you might like to see the archaeological report of 1996 which I’ve discovered on the internet:

One thing you will notice is the spelling of Cefn Cribwr. Over the last decade or so much correction of previously mis-spelled Welsh place names has taken place within the county borough, the double-B which everyone seems to have used for centuries has now been replaced with a single B.

It’s been ten or more years since I last made a visit to the Ironworks and the adjacent Cefn Cribwr brickworks site, I guess a return is long overdue.

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