Engineered by S W Yockney, Rhondda is the longest disused tunnel in Wales at 3,443 yards. Today its portals are buried. Though single line through it, the Rhondda and Swansea Bay Railway became double track as it emerged into daylight. The Rhondda Tunnel, an amazing feat of engineering for its time has now sadly been closed for more than forty years, with its portals covered over. This was a major artery in the years of steam. It is time, time to start the ball rolling, it is time for it to be recognised for what it is, what it stands for, and how this tunnel can help bring much needed tourists to these parts of the Valleys. The councils of these days need to help in getting us back on the map. They used us for our coal and led to many losing lives. We want something back, we are not asking a lot. Blaencwm and the Afan Valley are of great beauty these days, the walks are spectacular. Let’s keep it that way and even get it better.
Construction was carried out from both ends, taking five years to bore from June 1885 to 2nd July 1890. It features a single 58-foot ventilation shaft around 105 yards from its western end. It’s almost 1,000 feet below ground at its deepest point.
Underground springs ensured that Rhondda was very wet in places; this was channelled away via a drainage system. Coal working caused the lining to bulge and a series of reinforcement ribs was erected in 1938. Eleven years later, an inspection found the tunnel to be in excellent condition except for two sections where distortion was severe. More ribs were installed.
The tunnel was closed in 1968 temporarily while funds were being found to repair it, but instead the British Railways board decided to close the whole line.
Underground springs ensured that the Rhondda Tunnel was very wet in places; this was channelled away via a drainage system. Coal working caused the lining to bulge and a series of reinforcement ribs were erected in 1938. Eleven years later, an inspection found the tunnel to be in excellent condition except for two sections where distortion was severe. More ribs were installed. Further deterioration resulted in the tunnel being closed ‘temporarily’ on safety grounds in 1968, though it never reopened – the cost of repairs being prohibitive.
Following years of disuse, both of the Rhondda Tunnel’s portals were finally covered over and landscaped.