Transport in the Glasbury Area
An Introduction to the Modes of Transport in the area over time


Transport in the Glasbury area

The settlements in the Glasbury area developed by the river and where there was easy access to crossings in the form of fords, boats and ferries. Glasbury, Hay and the Boughrood area fulfilled these criteria and rough roads/tracks would have been constructed to connect them locally and also to connect them to the more major settlements of Brecon to the west and Hereford to the east. In time minor roads/tracks were created in the area and pushed out on both sides of the river, these leading to homesteads and farms well above the flood plain and catering for an expanding population.
Despite the Roman occupation of Brecon and Hereford and of some evidential settlement at Aberllynfi, there is as yet no emergence of any road linking them via the Glasbury area. Thus the first indications of transport occur in the Medieval period in the form of basic roads and tracks, some of these ever deepening as carts and stock were moved up and down the steeper routes on both sides of the valley, this finally ceasing with the advent of tarmacadam.
By the late 18th century the industrial revolution was well under way and one effect of this was the necessity for the transport of goods on a large scale. To this end a successful canal system was emerging to carry supplies of raw materials such as coal , iron and limestone from the industrial centres of South Wales. Prior to this the main method of transport was by packhorse or oxen/horse-drawn carts along poorly maintained roads, many of these being no more than deeply rutted and muddy tracks in bad weather conditions.
Alongside this the mining of both stone and coal had resulted in the introduction of basic railway systems, initially in the mines, with the use of drams on rails that were pushed and pulled by men and pit-ponies. The national railway system was a later development and links were eventually built connecting this to the mining industries and the canal systems.
There were now three competing modes of transport, with the canals and railways initially being more efficient than the roads. This was despite large investments for the introduction of newer roads using turnpikes and tolls to pay for them.
At this time also the more affluent families had their own stables and coaches for local travel such as shopping, going to church and pertinent social commitments. Such was the case on the Maesllwch and Gwernyfed Estates, Glasbury House and the Woodlands. Coaching houses were becoming more utilised and both the Maesllwch Arms and the Three Cocks hotel had stabling facilities along with food and board.
It was the rise of the automobile at the start of the 19th century that precipitated a marked improvement in the building of efficient and lasting roads, aided by the use of finer roadstones, tarmacadam and improved drainage. Road haulage and an expanding rail freight system would eventually lead to the demise of the slower canals at a commercial level.
The coming of more prosperity and a removal of petrol rationing after the Second World War led to more road travel by individuals and families. This coupled with the advent of the motorway system and the Beeching report led to the demise of the Steam Rail era and road became king for both leisure and commerce.
The motor-cycle also played its part during this time for the less well off with many families owning a motor-cycle and sidecar, complete with full camping equipment at holiday times. This fashion has virtually ceased in modern times with most families owning at least one car, although the motor-cycle on its own has survived commercially and is used by young and old alike (often in clubs and largish groups)
In response to the road transport competition British Rail began investing in electrified and High Speed trains in the 1970's and on major routes nationwide.
The rail system was finally privatised from 1994 to 1997, with the Freight arm being sold outright and the rest of the system split between more than 100 companies.
The rationalisation of these companies has led to a recent boom in passenger numbers, albeit at inflated prices, and the current trend for public and commercial transport is by both rail and road.

After a long period of stagnation, significant sections of both the rail and the canal systems are currently being used for leisure activities and have enjoyed a renaissance throughout the UK. This has largely been accomplished through voluntary expertise and labour, coupled with private finance and public grants.

At an individual level the invention of the bicycle and its improving design from the early to late 19th century provided a new means of transport for work, leisure and sport ( cycle races ) and these themes continue to the present day.

At this time there is only speculation as to whether the river Wye up to Glasbury was ever utilised at a commercial level, although as far back as 1662 an act had been obtained to make some parts of the Wye navigable.

B Bowker

Sources : --

CPAT Archives - Historic Settlements Survey - Transport and Communication
Radnorshire Society Transactions Vol 18 1948 - Railways and Radnorshire by R. C. B. Oliver
British Rail archives

The road up to the Begwyns from FfynnonGynydd displaying the deep erosion prior to being tarmacadamed
B Bowker - 09 02 2015

The old Tram road running below the old Railway line
at Treble Hill
B Bowker - 09 03 2014

The GWR Bus at Talgarth
Arthur Battiscombe collection

Train at Glasbury in 1891 with Treble Hill cottages
built on the site of the old woolen mill
Arthur Battiscombe collection