Stretching northwards from Cardiff and the nearby south coast of Wales are a series of valleys with associated railways built by the Marquess of Bute.
In the past, the main industry of the valleys was coal mining but unfortunately it fell on hard times for a variety of reasons in recent decades and consequently with a bit of nostalgia, the people who remember that time feel robbed of their employment and heritage where successive generations carried on the trade.
(The trip I normally made to Cardiff from Bristol, as I said in the last post was usually by train and the crossing of the River Severn was by the unspectacular yet no less amazing engineering achievement of the 19th century Severn tunnel. This structure at 4 miles long was the longest standard tunnel in Britain for some time but as a major freight and passenger route, it always seemed prone to me for delays and diversions, usually caused by the failure of a freight train in the tunnel, particularly on my return from Cardiff.)
This post is a mixture of things from a drab South Wales day with the scenery, the weather and personally .... loosely entitled Buildings, bridges, beasts and birds.
The building of a bridge over the River Severn was first thought of 1824, but due to the birth and growth of the railways, it stayed as a thought for a considerable period of time. As more people wanted their own transport following the introduction of the car, traffic congestion became an issue in the towns to the west of the Severn and plans for a bridge were eventually stopped once more by the railway company. In the late 1940's & early 1950's a massive road building scheme was planned which included the construction of the Severn Bridge. The Government funded project was completed in 1966 and a toll fee would reclaim the money... still in operation today.
Big Pit at Blaenavon is now a museum that seeks to preserve the concept of coal mining in South Wales. The pit was opened in 1860, reached it's peak in the early 1900's but eventually ceased production in 1980. It only lay dormant for three years before opening as a museum three years later.
I had an opportunity to do a short walk along a rough path over mining tracks to see the Pontypool & Blaenavon railway just north of the site. I had an interest here as there was something I wanted to see. However to my surprise I saw something that I did not believe possible...
It was time to move on to the market town of Abergavenny. Although there is a lot more to the town than shops, this was essentially a Christmas shopping moment.
Abergavenny has it's roots as a town in Norman times with some later English / Welsh border war action. The most distinctive feature in Abergavenny High street is the market hall tower which dominates the skyline, something held here according to official records since the early 13th century.
|Hanging around in the market hall|
Outside there is a mural on the opposite side of the street that depicts a landscape of the town.
A walk around the shops was interspersed with a display from The Welsh Owl society who .... helped me stretch and fill out material for this post !! ...
Owls are like bloggers and followers, they are wise and sharp ...
|.. keeping an eye on what's going on ...|
|... but you have to try and keep their interest ...|
|... otherwise they might just about fall asleep !!|