Page last updated at 10:47 GMT, Wednesday, 29 April 2009 11:47 UK
Treading the tracks of Trevithick
Mosaic Mural - Trevithick Tunnel
A mosaic mural at the entrance to the Trevithick Tunnel

The Trevithick Trail in Merthyr Tydfil follows the route taken by Richard Trevithick's steam locomotive on its first journey on 21st February 1804.

The Cornish engineer was asked by Samuel Homfray, owner of the Penydarren Ironworks, to produce a steam engine to haul the iron from his works.

The route from Penydarren to Abercynon is 9 miles long.

Alongside stunning scenery, public art celebrating Merthyr Tydfil's heritage can be seen along the route.

In the nineteenth century Merthyr Tydfil was the iron capital of the world. Richard Trevithick initially built the steam engine to drive a hammer at the Penydarren Iron works in 1802. The engine was then mounted on wheels to become a locomotive.

The locomotive's first journey took place because of a bet between Homfray and the rival ironmaster at the Cyfarthfa works, Richard Crawshay.

The iron was to be taken from the Penydarren works to the Navigation at Abercynon where it then joined the Glamorgan Canal.

The nine and three quarter mile journey, hauling ten tons of iron and 70 men took over four hours. It was the first journey to haul a load by steam locomotive.

Viewing Platform - Merthyr Vale
A viewing platform at Merthyr Vale offers a chance to enjoy the scenery

Merthyr Tydfil Council launched the trail to coincide with the bi-centenary of the locomotive's first trip in 1804. From 2004 to 2008 work to complete phase two of the trail was undertaken. This included implementing a variety of landscaping improvements along the trail and the installation of public art and trail markers along the way. The trail was officially opened in June 2008.

The Glamorgan Gates project has coordinated the production of artwork along the trail. A joint venture between University of Glamorgan and Communities First, the artwork has been produced with the involvement of numerous local community groups.

The trail runs down the Taff Vale, alongside the River Taff offering the chance to see plentiful wildlife, flora and fauna.

It follows the line of the tramroad and walkers and cyclists following the trail will pass by several sites of historical interest including the sites of former ironworks, the Trevithick tunnel and the Taff Vale viaduct.

For more information on the trail visit the Trevithick Trail website

In pictures: Trevithick Trail
29 Apr 09 |  History
Trevithick the railway pioneer
29 Apr 09 |  History
In pictures: Merthyr Tydfil
24 Mar 09 |  People & Places



Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific