Brecon and
Abergavenny Canal
  The canal and the tramroads  
For more about the early horse-drawn tramroads see our pages on the Hay Tramroad in the Talgarth section of this website, or
click here.

The canal was planned jointly with the connecting tramroads which would bring bulk loads from the nearest quarries and mines to the canal banks. The tramroads were an early form of railway using horse-drawn wagons or 'trams' running on simple iron rails, so that the horses could pull much heavier loads than on the rutted roads of the time.
Canals and tramroads were so important to each other that the first work carried out by the new Brecknock & Abergavenny Canal Company in 1794 was a tramroad. This one was to bring coal from mines in the Clydach Valley to Gilwern and on to an ironworking forge at Llangrwyney.

Horse-drawn trams

The canal,
River Usk,
and the Hay
on a map

1848 map of Brecon The early tramroad or "horse-powered railway" which connected the Watton wharf on the canal at Brecon with Hay and Herefordshire is shown on this simply drawn map of 1848.
Notice of
reduced price
of coal at
Brecon wharf
March 1817
Coal price notice

Further down the canal, other tramroads were used to bring coal from Clydach and other mines to loading wharves alongside the canal, and then on by boat to Brecon.
Large stocks of coal were held at the company's wharf in the town to supply local needs, and coal was also carried on from Brecon on the tramroad to Hay and beyond.

Because transport costs are so important in the case of bulky and heavy goods, the tramroads and the canal were to make huge differences to the cost of coal.


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