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Brecon railways
  A railway link with the industrial towns  

By the 1850s traders, landowners and many others from Brecon and the surrounding areas were desperate to have a railway link with the rapidly growing industrial towns of South Wales.Train of 1890
Their large populations were seen as a valuable market for farm produce, and the coalmines of the south needed timber for pit-props to support the mineshaft roofs.
The mines also used large numbers of pit-ponies and horses which needed hundreds of tons of hay and oats as animal feed every year.
Before the railway, places like Merthyr could obtain these and other goods they needed much more cheaply from south-west England and even from Ireland.

The supporters of the plan for a steam railway link with the coalfield towns of South Wales claimed that hay and other animal feed could be sold in large quantities there.
They also suggested that the manure from all their horses could be sent back cheaply by train to improve the soil of Breconshire farms !

Wagon on country roadThe transport costs also made a huge difference to the price of goods being sent to Brecon from the south.
Large amounts of coal were needed for the town and areas around, and the price went up dramatically whenever the canal froze over in a cold winter. This happened in 1860, and the coal had to be carried in carts over rough roads.
It was also hoped that a steam railway service to Brecon would bring down the price of limestone brought up from quarries north of Merthyr. When burned with coal in limekilns this produced lime for use as fertiliser or for building.
There is more about the arrival of the new steam railways at Brecon on the next page...

The railway comes to Brecon...


Sending heavy goods by
horse-drawn wagons was
slower and more expensive
than by canal, and many
roads could be very bad
in winter.
Other advantages claimed for a new railway to Brecon were that it would bring more visitors to the mineral spas at Llandrindod, Llanwrtyd and Builth Wells - and that the soldiers based at Brecon Barracks could be moved south quickly in case of emergency !
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