Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taf Cllr Ann Crimmings, Mayor of Merthyr Tydfil Cllr Graham Davies, pupils of Abercynon Community School and guests
Steam engine inventor Richard Trevithick was celebrated in the County Borough today (Friday) with the unveiling of a new information board about his pioneering rail journey.
The Cornish mining engineer and inventor successfully created a steam-driven engine on wheels. He drove 70 men and the engine 16km from the Penydarren Ironworks to a loading point for the GlamorganshireCanal near Abercynon.
This journey went down in history as the first time a steam locomotive had hauled goods and passengers on rails.
Rhondda Cynon Taf Mayor Cllr Ann Crimmings welcomed Mayor of Merthyr Tydfil Cllr Graham Davies and pupils from AbercynonCommunityPrimary School to the spot where Trevithick’s famous journey finished in 1804.
To mark the 200th anniversary of the historic occasion in 2004, a Trevithick Trail information board was erected near NavigationPark and ten years later it was decided to refurbish the site and place a new board for the enjoyment of the many visitors to the area.
Mayor of Rhondda Cynon Taf Cllr Ann Crimmings told the crowd of visitors, “It is an honour to commemorate Richard Trevithick’s first rail journey, which terminated here 210 years ago today on 21 February 1804.
“This place looked very different back then as we would have seen the GlamorganCanal on its way from Merthyr Tydfil to Cardiff and the Navigation House, a building which we can still see today.
“We can only imagine the excitement there must have been in seeing a clanking, noisy steam engine arrive here when the only form of travel would have been horse drawn carts or horse drawn barges on the canal.
“It is ten years since this information board was first placed here, on the occasion of the two hundredth anniversary of Trevithick’s famous journey, and I am particularly pleased to welcome the Mayor of Merthyr Tydfil here today as we join with them in the celebration of this anniversary.
“In Rhondda Cynon Taf we are keen to work with our neighbours to promote the Trevithick story and the Trevithick Trail for the benefit of local people and to attract visitors to this area.”
In 1804 Navigation, Abercynon, was the final destination of one of the most famous and important journeys of the nineteenth century.
Born in 1771, Richard Trevithick successfully created a steam driven hammer for Samuel Homfray’s Penydarren Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, used this experience to design a steam driven engine on wheels.
Homfray impressed with Trevithick’s work bet his fellow Merthyr Ironmaster, Richard Crawshay, 500 guineas that Trevithick’s engine could haul 10 tons of iron the 16 kilometres down the tram road from Penydarren Ironworks to Navigation.
From Navigation the iron could be transferred onto barges on the GlamorganCanal before heading to Cardiff Docks and the world beyond.
To great public interest, on the 21st February, Trevithick successfully drove his engine carrying 70 men and the iron the distance in 4 hours 5 minutes at an average speed of 3.9 kilometres an hour. This journey went down in history as the first time a steam locomotive had hauled goods on rails and in the process won Homfray his bet.
Today the 15km Trevithick Trail takes you on a fascinating journey through a historic landscape that still bears the hallmarks of the industrialisation of the valleys.