Page first uploaded: 29 January 2014

Short-lived stopping places are a subject of interest to railway chronologers. A claimant which appears to have been somewhat overlooked warrants notice: Tonteg (Barry Railway) – a location which features neither in Clinker’s Register nor in Michael Quick’s Railway Passenger Stations in Great Britain - A Chronology.

This location (not to be confused with the Taff Vale halt of the same name and opening date) and St-y-Nyll, both being between Pontypridd (Barry) and Tynycaeau Junction, were short low platforms, provided for use by “Motor Cars” (railmotors) which the Barry introduced at short notice on weekdays only from Monday 1 May 1905 on their Pontypridd – Cardiff service. These two openings are evidenced by their notice in Western Mail of 4 May, while the start of the Car service is confirmed by Evans, their General Manager, in his report to the Traffic Committee of 1 May 1905 in which he states “... a motor service between Cardiff & Pontypridd, via St Fagans, started on this day.” The revised service was not that shown in the company’s timebills dated May (which is probably why neither of the two openings was picked by Bradshaw’s Guide or Clinker's Register until St-y-Nyll was noted in July).

However, Evans’s next report, dated 29 May 1905, highlighted the inadequacies of the Cars and stated that he “…. has taken it upon himself to put the old service back in operation from [Thursday] 1st June 1905 ….”. So the Cars were withdrawn at equally short notice! The public notice in Western Mail of 31 May also made clear that, in restoring the “train” service that had been advertised in the May timetable, “… No passengers will be picked up or set down at the Tonteg Platform after May 31st but the trains will call at St-y-Nyll when required. Passengers for this place should inform the Guard before joining the train and should travel in the carriage next to the rear Guards Van.” The Cars themselves were immediately redeployed on the Vale of Glamorgan line “and also between trains on the line to Barry Island”.

Despite Tonteg having already closed, both halts were duly inspected for the Board of Trade by Col. Druitt whose report dated 26 October 1905 (National Archives ref. MT6/1415/13), in respect of Tonteg, noted that it was “…not in use as the Motor-car traffic has been discontinued ....”. He cites the difficult access to the platforms and prohibits them from ever being used by passengers in trains (i.e. as opposed to Motor Cars).

St-y-Nyll was slightly different in that Druitt passed these platforms for use as long as
(a) they were long enough to accommodate the full length of trains stopping (presumably that would have entailed either lengthening the platforms or running separate short trains), and
(b) lighting, nameboard and ramps (but not necessarily a shelter) were provided.

The company responded to this on 7 November to the effect that it had decided to discontinue the stopping of trains at St-y-Nyll after Saturday 18 November (i.e. with effect from 20 November 1905 – which amplifies the information recorded by Clinker and Quick, which had been based on the last appearance in Bradshaw’s Guide).

Tonteg was at milepost 12m 25ch from Cadoxton (a very similar location to the halt the GWR opened on 5 May 1930 - see Tony Cooke’s Track Layout Diagrams page 46B/112), while St-y-Nyll was at 6m 17ch, between Creigiau and Tynycaeau Junction (Track Layout Diagrams page 44A/27).

Tonteg had thus survived only for a month, St-y-Nyll for just over half a year.

Thanks to Tony Miller and the late Colin Chapman for information. This provides an opportunity to mention that Colin’s original papers (22,500 of them) are in Cardiff Library. They were commercially digitised into PDFs by the Welsh Railways Research Circle and are a ready resource for anyone looking into the history of the railways of the Cardiff valleys, especially the Taff Vale.

Richard Maund

A version of this article appeared in Railway and Canal Historical Society Railway Chronology Group Co-ordinating Newsletter no. 73, January 2013.

To return to home page or to contact address.