About SideTracked Caches
This cache belongs to the SideTracked series. More Information can be found at the SideTracked Website. This has been placed for the 13th anniversary of the SideTracked Series on 10th August 2020
About this Geocache
The cache is a small camouflaged Tupperware box with room for small swaps and TB's. Parking for 1 car is possible reasonably near to GZ but it is far better to park at the recommended parking waypoint a short distance away and follow the footpath alongside the river. Please note the cache needs to be approached from the old road which runs parallel to Mill Road - it's not reachable along Mill Road itself.
Please note: From August to October 2020: there are currently multiple sets of roadworks/lane closures/temporary traffic lights and a reduced speed limit between Pontypridd and Ynysybwl that may cause moderate delays to car journeys. These are mostly for repairs to retaining walls and bridges along the River Taff at Pontypridd and Nant Clydach near Glyncoch following the flooding caused by Storm Dennis earlier this year.
About Old Ynysybwl Halt
The Ynysybwl branch line railway, formerly known as the Clydach Valley Branch, was opened by the Taff Vale Railway (TVR) company in 1885 to serve the collieries that were expected to open in the Clydach Valley. In fact the nearby Lady Windsor Colliery sunk in 1885 was the only one to be sunk during this time. The Mynachdy, Black Grove and Llanwonno Collieries declined rather than expanded and others were not opened. There were ambitious plans to further expand the railways in the area but difficult gradients and dubious benefits meant these never came to be built. TVR lost enthusiasm for the project when anticipated colliery development in the area did not materialise but fortunately Lady Windsor provided a great deal of activity for the branch line that was built.
The Ynysybwl branch line was one of 23 branch lines which existed off the TVR main line. The TVR main line was just 24 miles long, but the length of railway was more than 124 miles including all of its branches. This branch line was single track for all its length except for a crossing place known as 'Windsor Pass Siding' near the Lady Windsor Colliery.
A passenger service as far as Ynysybwl started from Abercynon station in 1890, but it was not until the building of a link direct to Pontypridd and the introduction of so-called "motor cars" (steam railmotor units) that could stop at low-cost that the passenger service was successful. These “motor cars” were single coach trains with a small integral steam engine, for providing a low-cost passenger service in lightly used areas and were key to ensure that passenger services were cost-effective.
This passenger station was originally named Old Ynysybwl Platform and opened on 17 October 1904. It then closed in April 1921 for several months before being reopened in September. After “the grouping” of railway companies in 1922, in keeping with Taff Vale Railways policy of renaming many of its stations, this station was renamed Old Ynysybwl Halt.
Here at Old Ynysybwl Halt, this was the northernmost passenger stop on the branch line, with only a link to Llanwonno Colliery and Black Grove Colliery (via a tramway) further up the line from here. The next two stations to the south were Ynysybwl and Robertstown Halt which saw greater passenger numbers than here, particularly Robertstown Halt as that was closest to the bulk of the local population.
Each passenger stop on the branch had platforms 40 feet in length, and only the motor cars were permitted to stop at them. There were no staff at these stops, and a fence and gate were provided, so that waiting passengers were kept away from the platform edge until the gate was released by the guard of the train. Originally there was no shelter or seating at these stations. Notwithstanding the intended low-cost service, the motor cars had a crew of three persons.
Concerns about the capacity of the line and its ability to cope with the increasing mineral traffic from the rapidly expanding Lady Windsor Colliery and the expected increase in passenger traffic led to the line being remodelled and improved by 1900 and a diversion of the main line "Clydach Court Loop" was built to enable direct running of trains to Pontypridd in addition to Abercynon.
The steam motor car service between Pontypridd and Old Ynysybwl using the Clydach Court Loop started operation on 17 October 1904. This proved a considerable success, and business grew steadily. Robertstown Platform in particular was popular, and a shelter was provided in 1908. In 1917 the volume of business was such that a substantial booking office was provided at Ynysybwl. Today the Ynysybwl booking office is a GP surgery and is still very recognisable inside and out for its original use, including some interior layout and one or two iconic railway bench seats.
A waiting shelter was also provided here at Old Ynysybwl in 1912 in anticipation of a bright future. However in 1918 after World War I, both coal traffic and passenger traffic declined significantly on the whole branch. The section of branchline north of Old Ynysybwl Halt was closed on 22 September 1949.
Eventually the loss of income led to passenger services here at Old Ynysybwl and stations south to Ynysybwl being discontinued with the last train running on 26 July 1952. Excursion trains operated occasionally from Ynysybwl until Ynysybwl itself closed completely on 2 November 1959.
Lady Windsor Colliery closed in 1988 with the last coal carrying train leaving Lady Windsor on 20 May 1988. The last revenue-earning train on the line was on 15 October 1988 when an enthusiasts' special train ran to Lady Windsor Colliery. Total closure of the branch line followed.