Brecon and Merthyr Railway

Brecon And Merthyr Railway

Brecon and Merthyr Railway

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The Brecon and Merthyr Junction Railway (B&MJR) was one of several railways that served the industrial areas of South Wales and Monmouthshire. It ranked fifth amongst them in size, although hemmed in by the Taff Vale Railway (TVR) and Great Western Railway (GWR). It notably gained the unfortunate nickname of "Breakneck and Murder Railway" owing to a certain tendency towards having accidents - which, owing to the steep gradients, were generally rather severe.


The B&MJR was once described as a "lively octopus in a tank of sharks", but despite the aggressive activities of the "sharks", it survived until the railway grouping. In the process, it absorbed several smaller companies and by negotiating running powers over the lines of other companies, it established links between Newport Docks in Newport and Brecon, and hence into Mid-Wales.

As early as 1836, Sir John Josiah Guest, of the Dowlais iron Works, had written of his proposal to construct a railway linking Dowlais to the valley of the River Usk, and possibly also running into Brecon. The line would have pretty nearly covered the same route as was eventually adopted by the B&MJR. A similar proposal suggested a line running up the Taf Fawr valley over the Brecon Beacons via Storey Arms and thence to Brecon.

The company was established by a Bill of 1858, with the directors including several prominent Brecon citizens. The Beacons tunnel (also known as Torpantau) was completed...
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