Members meet at the club on Tuesday 2nd August and leave for The Quays in Briton Ferry at 6.30pm.
Blast Engine House Briton Ferry Steel Works
The Industrial Revolution brought factories such as the Albion Steel Works, the English Crown Spelter Works and the Baglan Bay Tinplate Works to Briton Ferry. These were built on land close to the River Neath and the new South Wales Railway, built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
In the 1850s the Briton Ferry Floating Dock Company was incorporated, and bought land from the Earl of Jersey to build the Briton Ferry Docks. When it opened in 1861, the dock consisted of an outer tidal basin, and an inner floating dock, where the water level was maintained by a single gate, which included a buoyancy chamber. It covered an area of 23.7 acres. The gate was 56 feet wide, and the unique structure with its floating caisson was designed by Brunel’s father, Sir Marc Brunel.
Following Brunel’s death in 1859, Robert Brereton took over as engineer, and also acted as engineer for improvements made in 1872 and 1873. The company later went bankrupt and the Great Western Railway took over the docks as a going concern.
The industrial revolution brought much expansion to Briton Ferry that included iron and steel works, tinplate production and engineering. In 1951 as industry began to dwindle, portions of the estate were sold off. Although in some areas, production continued until the 1970s.
The Wern Steel Works
One of the few industrial buildings still remaining in this area, is known locally as the ‘Wern steel works’. It began life as ‘High Duty Alloys’ in the late 1940s and early 1950s. One of its claims to fame, was that exhaust parts for the Concorde aeroplane were made there. In recent years and after being used by several other companies, the premises were purchased by a local businessman with a view to future redevelopment.
Jersey Park – old railway bridge
Members meet at the club and leave for Jersey Park at 6.30pm on Tuesday 26th July. A free car park is available close to the top entrance, near Ynysmardy Cemetary. The park closes at 8:00pm so be sure to return before the gates are locked.
The incline opposite the park entrance is the route taken by the unique railway line designed and constructed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, which traveled from Glyncorrwg to Briton Ferry Docks during the last century. Much of it can be walked along and there are five bridges over the route as far as Cimla which are still intact. On the top of the hill are the industrial ruins of the old winding house.
In 1926, when the Earl of Jersey gave Jersey Park to the people of Briton Ferry, the Brunel railway became part of the local landscape – and remains so today. Jersey Park is an exceptionally well-preserved urban public park opened in 1925. Its original layout of formal and informal areas remains complete and includes sports facilities. Planting in the park is diverse and interesting, with an emphasis on evergreen trees and shrubs.
Members meet at the clubhouse on Tuesday 19th July and leave for Swansea marina’s, barrage and dock gate area at 6.30pm.
Marina Dock Gates
Swansea barrage to the left of the dock gates was built in 1992 with the aim of creating a new marina to extend the leisure facilities offered by the industrial docks. A fish ladder was also built alongside the barrage to allow fish to move freely up and down the river. Local seals soon realised that the ladder was an easy source of food as it concentrated the fish in one area. Needless to say, the seals soon took advantage of this. Perhaps we will have an opportunity to photograph them during our visit.
Members meet at the clubhouse on Tuesday 12th July 2016 and leave for Penllergare Valley Woods at 6.30 pm
At the height of its prosperity in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Penllergare estate, was one of the great gardens of Britain. Its main creator was John Dillwyn Llewelyn (1810 -82), a man as distinguished for his contribution to landscape design and horticulture, as for his scientific experiments and pioneering photography.
Inspired by Henry Fox Talbot who was first cousin to John’s wife, Emma, Llewelyn became an enthusiastic and accomplished photographer. With its lakes and waterfalls, panoramic vistas, secret places and horticultural and botanical riches, Penllergare provided a wide variety of subjects for his camera and his photographic images vividly evoke the Victorian era style. His son, Sir John Talbot Dillwyn Llewelyn, brought the gardens to their peak just before the Great War and he, like his father was a notable philanthropist and supporter of community activities. Unfortunately, during the second half of the twentieth century, those glories faded and Penllergare began its long slide into dereliction.
In recent times and after a decade of hard work and persistence with the aim of protecting, restoring and reviving Penllergare Valley Woods, the efforts of the Penllergare Trust have now paid off and it has more recently become a park for people in an increasingly urban area providing a wide range of recreation and leisure opportunities, whilst still remaining a sanctuary for wildlife.
Guided by the unique archive of John Dillwyn Llewelyn’s mid-nineteenth century photography, over the next 3 years, the upper lake will be de-silted, and steps, terraces, waterfalls and cascades will be repaired and restored to reinstate the picturesque and romantic design.
There should be some interesting photographic opportunities here.