The Forest of Brecon Tramroad  

Travelling up the Swansea valley the land becomes steeper and more mountainous. To travel to Sennybridge means crossing the great mountain mass called Fforest Fawr or the Great Forest of Brecon. Photo of Fforest FawrThis is not a forest in the modern sense but an open area once used for hunting.
This wild, wind-swept area was common land on which local people could graze their animals.
In 1817 this area was enclosed or divided up into fields, and large parts of it became the property of Mr John Christie, a London businessman.
In 1820 he moved to Brecon and began to put into action ambitious plans he had for the area.


He saw that the Swansea Valley to the south had iron ore, coal and limestone, and he owned a limestone quarry at Penwyllt which he had developed. He thought that he could make his own lime in kilns at Penwyllt using limestone from his own quarries. This could then be sold to the ironworks in the valley. (See the pages on the Story of iron smelting).

He also though the lime could be used in the high upland areas to turn the wild mountain pasture into productive farmland by spreading it on the fields.

To get the lime to both the upland farms and ironworks he built a tramway network called the Brecon Forest Tramroad.

Map of the Brecon Forest Tramroad
  This new tramroad network can be seen in the map above. It stretched from Sennybridge right over the mountain and down to Ystradgynlais, with several branches.
Mr Christie was a very ambitious man, and he was convinced that bringing lime up to his mountain farms would make a lot of money. He spent a large sum on building a great stone wall 44 miles long around the Great Forest. It was no wonder that he became bankrupt!

More about the Brecon Forest Tramroad...


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