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Railways and Industry in the Western Valley (ePub)

Newport to Aberbeeg

Transport > Trains & Railways World History > UK & Ireland > Wales

By John Hodge
Imprint: Pen & Sword Transport
File Size: 11.7 MB (.epub)
Pages: 254
Illustrations: 200 black and white illustrations, maps & track diagrams
ISBN: 9781473870239
Published: 18th May 2016


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Railways and Industry in the Western Valley has been chosen as The Great Western Echo’s ‘Book Choice of the Month!’
Quote: “This edition gives an atmospheric insight into a fascinating area of the GWR”
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This is the first in a new series on the South Wales Valleys by John Hodge, author of the South Wales Main Line series and North and West series, each of four volumes. The South Wales Valleys were famous for coal mining, iron and steel, tinplate works and the railways that served both industries, between them accounting for a very high percentage of employment in the area.

This book relates the history of the early years of each industry and follows this through the railway steam and diesel age to the present day. The book traces the original Newport stations of Courtybella and Dock Street for the Valleys services and how this changed to High Street from 1880. Individual sections are presented on each main railway activity, accounts of each location along the route with sections on the railway layout, collieries and other industrial concerns, all illustrated by an abundant supply of photographs of the railway steam and diesel era, with accounts of the many collieries from the early years of the nineteenth century, to the end of coal mining in the Western Valley in 1989.

A detailed, widely illustrated series on the valleys such as this, is long overdue and this first book in the series. The book is divided into two parts, the first covering the area as far as Aberbeeg and the second continuing to the heads of the Valley at Ebbw Vale and Brynmawr, as well as an account of the Hall’s Road line.

The book is well produced, being a good-sized hardback and printed on glossy art paper which makes the photographs really stand out. I am sure that anyone who worked in the South Wales coal and steel industries or on the railways that served them will find this book both a wonderful reminder of meaningful times. This can clearly be seen in the fact that the book has received nothing but positive reviews. And those specialist readers will delight in knowing that three more books in this series are to come.

Read the complete review here.


South Wales railways had a convoluted history and carried immense traffic but received little attention outside of Wales. John Hodge details railway complexity and industry in just one valley. But what a valley, the one including Ebbw Vale steelworks. His Railways and Industry in the Wesern Valley: Newport to Aberbeeg is unlikely to be bettered.

Society of Model & Experimental Engineers

Through a good extensive selection of photographs to complement his own, Hodge describes changing track layouts, re-sitings of signal boxes and laying down of holding sidings from the GWR period through BR to the present day.

Journal of the Railway and Canal Historical Society Nov. 2016

This edition gives an atmospheric insight into a fascinating area of the GWR

Great Western Echo

Combining factual reporting with elements of social and technological history this is an intriguing account that reveals a legacy of conflicting priorities, technologies and interests. In addition to its obvious documentary value it provides a salutary lesson to those who believe that standardisation is merely an invention of mindless bureaucrats and that unfettered market forces offer the most efficient way to deliver critical infrastructure. Overall a valuable resource for local historians and steam enthusiasts in particular.

Paul Henry Stanton

All in all. this is a very welcome work on a fascinating railway.

Steam Days, October 2016 - reviewed by Kevin Tiller

Railways and Industry in the Western Valley, Newport to Aberbeeg by John Hodge, may sound specialist but the photos bring the area stunningly alive for everyone interested in social history. Ranging from the horse and cart through steam days to the modern diesel, this large format volume is well worth reading.

Evergreen, Autumn 2016

The first in an extensive and comprehensive series looking at railways serving the coal, steel and iron industries of the South Wales Valleys. Volume 1 covers Newport Docks, motive power, types of traffic on the line to Aberbeeg and much more. Lavishly illustrated and packed with inspiration and information for modellers.

British Railway Modelling Magazine, September 2016

Just received my copy, can only say what a fantastic book covering an area sadly neglected in any detail by the railway press. If you like railways and South Wales you should get this title, looking forward to the following volumes especially the Ebbw Vale and Brynmawr edition as my father was born in Abertillery and still have a cousin living in Nantyglo, the area being almost local for me despite living in the West Midlands

Ken Bridgeman

About John Hodge

The late John Hodge was a former railwayman, who started his working life on the Western Region in South Wales in 1961, later transferring to London Paddington and British Railways Board. He was brought up in Barry, a port town west of Cardiff, which has strong railway connections, once being an important port for coal traffic and later being famous for Woodham Brothers scrap yard, and which held over 200 locomotives that are now mostly preserved on heritage lines. John was a lifelong railway enthusiast and historian, with many railway histories published.

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