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Taff Vale Viaduct – Quakers Yard Continued

The haulier and another person were hurt very much, and others escaped slightly bruised”. As a consequence of this accident the Dowlais Works were forced to send its iron to the wharf at Merthyr for loading onto boats there. From the bridge, the course of the tramroad is followed south towards Quakers’ Yard where the Taff is fed from the east by the Bargoed-Taff , a tributary which has its source in the moorland area south of Dowlais.

Before its association with the Quaker faith this ancient crossing was called Rhyd y grug meaning the ‘Ford of the Rustling Waters’. On the banks of the Taff-Bargoed, several hundred yards upstream from its confluence with the Taff stood Melin Caiach, a corn mill and woollen factory. This little complex would have been a focal point for the early farming community where wheat and barley would have been ground and woollen cloth manufactured.

The mills survived until the latter part of the nineteenth century, when the sinking of Harris’ Navigation Pits radically changed the whole neighbourhood. The early history of the Quaker faith locally is somewhat obscure but it seems that the group leased a small area of ground to be used for burial purposes from Pantanas Farm in the 1660’s. One source states that William Howe, a Bristol Quaker, opened the graveyard in June 1665, although a cast iron plaque affixed to the wall of the ground gave 1667.

These people were probably a breakaway group of Nonconformists, some of whom had worshipped at Blaencanaid and Berthlwyd Farms. George Fox, a noted Quaker visited the area in 1666 and returned a year later in the company of William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania. The last known meeting was held here in June 1797 but this was unfortunately severely disrupted by a crowd of ‘irreligious people who frequented the place breaking the Sabbath and drinking’.

South from here the tramroad, after a brief stay on the western bank of the Taff, crosses the river by a bridge of similar pedigree to the one already mentioned but later acquiring the name of Victoria. Now, on the final part of its route to the Basin at Navigation, the tramroad is confined by the steep valley sides, which force it in places perilously close to the waters of the river.

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