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THE CWM FFRWD RAIL ROAD by GORDON RATTENBURY THE land leased by Thomas Hill and his partners of the Earl of Abergavenny on which to found the Blaenavon Ironworks at the head of the Afon Llwyd valley, comprised some 12,000 acres-an area far in excess of that required for the purposes of one works. Consequently two large tracts were sub-let, one of which became the site of the Nantyglo Ironworks, and the other, a large area to the west of the valley, and south of Blaenavon, was sub-let to a partner- ship which founded the Varteg Ironworks in 1802,1 the first of several in the Abersychan district. Whilst iron-ore and coal for coking was abundant, all the works on the west of the valley suffered the same disability, namely the lack of suitable limestone. This commodity was in abundance on the eastern side, and a small quantity lay low down in the valley to the west, but to obtain it from either source was a problem that needed to be faced, and transport to overcome this difficulty had to be obtained, as, indeed had transport to export the finished product. By June 1793, the Monmouthshire Canal Company had completed the railroad authorised by its Act of 1792 from Pontnewynydd to Blaenavon,2 and in 1796 had completed the line of canal from Pont- newynydd to Newport,3 thus providing a through route for the exports of the Blaenavon Ironworks. Under its Act, the MCC was authorised to construct tramroads to any works lying within 8 miles of its canal or railroads, on application from the owners of such works; should the canal company be disinclined to make the com- munication, the powers of the Act devolved onto the applicant who might build the line for himself. One of the first actions by any newly founded iron company seems to have been to apply to the appropriate canal company for a con- nection to their works, and in this the Varteg proprietors were no exception, and the MCC general assembly of 19 October 1802 re- ceived an application from them for a railway or tramroad from some part of the Blaenavon Rail Road to the Varteg Furnace. The circumstances of a new and unproven iron company, coupled with the difficulty of construction, owing to the steep sides of the valley, was not to the liking of the MCC and they declined to make the line, but put no obstacle in the way of the iron company constructing it for themselves. It would appear that this was done, as there are the remains of an incline close to the school at Varteg, within three hundred yards of the site of the furnace at SO.264 056. Due to the building of Gladstone Terrace on the line of the tramroad it is not possible to trace the tramroad until the eastern end of the terrace is reached,