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Quakers Yard Station - Edwardsville

Quakers Yard Station - EdwardsvillePossessed as it was of immense industrial potential, the area around Merthyr Tydfil at the head of the Taff Valley, suffered economically from its isolation among the Welsh hills. Its only links to the coast were along lonely and exposed mountain ridges where ran rough and ancient trackways. Over terrain of this nature, only pannier carrying mules were suitable to transport the produce of the newly developing ironworks. Attempts were made in the 1760’s to improve some of these routes but gradients were too steep and surfaces too rough to accommodate heavily laden vehicles.

To the south of Merthyr Tydfil where the relatively soft Coal Measure rocks gave way to more resistant Pennant Sandstone, the Taff Valley becomes more confined and between Pontygwaith and Quakers’ Yard the river makes a deeply incised loop. Despite the tortuous nature of the river’s course here, late eighteenth and nineteenth century engineers succeeded in overcoming many natural obstacles and constructed a succession of lines of communication, which enable the ironworks, and later the coal mines to expand and prosper. On each bank of the river road, canal, tramway and railway were to be constructed, each in turn having to cling in places to the vertiginous slopes of the valley side.

Quakers Yard Station - EdwardsvilleIn the late 1760’s Anthony Bacon, founder of both Cyfarthfa and Plymouth Ironworks and John Guest of the Dowlais Works combined to sponsor the building of a turnpike road on the eastern side of the valley to Cardiff. This was eventually completed in 1771 and large wagons could be used to make the transport of iron to the coast easier and more efficient. This road followed the line of the modern A4054 north of Fiddler’s Elbow, and although a great improvement the hill between Quaker’s Yard and modern day Edwardsville continued to cause some difficulty. It did one cold January day in 1838 when the Cardiff mail coach failed to climb the icy gradient and the mailbags had to be sent on to Merthyr by horseback. When this road was completed the number living in and around Merthyr was only about 500 but by the Census of 1801 this number had risen to almost 8000.

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