Seasonal area

August 2010

Current Seasonal Area is here

For January 2010 we featured Penrhos Upper Junction (sort of) so for this month we pass along the former Barry Railway to Penrhos Lower Junction. Technically we've gone down the railway because we're closer to the coast; practically we've gone up, since the Lower Junction is slightly higher than the Upper Junction. When the Barry first came through here it was simply a double track railway in a deep cutting approaching Penrhos Upper Junction, the remains of which sit just behind the hills ahead, but the Barry's expansionist plans saw an extension diverge here to the right and pass over the Upper Junction to reach other railways further north up the Rhymney Valley.

The Lower Junction was carved out of the hills between the Taff Valley at Nantgarw and the Rhymney Valley at Caerphilly; it is a massive flat-bottomed gash in which a wide array of sidings were laid out for the diverging lines. Its career as a junction was short - the extension opened in 1906 and closed in 1926. Most of the trackwork survived for some years, but the line eventually closed in 1967, leaving a vast derelict area which for some mysterious reason was concreted over, with an access road being built along the old alignment from the Upper Junction to join a road near there.

Now nature reclaims its own. Every winter the concrete slabs are partially submerged beneath water; every summer the grass grows further along the joints between the concrete slabs and the moss spreads out a little more. The trees are swiftly breaking through and getting across the expansive site is steadily becoming more and more difficult. One day it will be a plain woodland once more, with curiously steep sides to an oddly flat valley. No doubt in due course the strange shape of the landscape will be smoothed too. A hundred more Augusts should easily obliterate the start point of the last extension for one of the world's most profitable railways, leaving just the mysterious brick towers at the Upper Junction to remember it by.


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