A travel guide by Window Seater
About this trip
The Merthyr line is no humble commuter line. In this Window Seater guide, we’ll ride with you to explain how the River Taff shaped the valley which shaped the world.
The route tells a truly Welsh story – one of survival and courage in the face of exploitation and devastation. It tells a story of sound – of iron works and collieries, of the world’s first steam rail journey and railway service, of the Welsh National Anthem and Tom Jones himself, and of an ever flowing and changing river and the environment it supports.
Get yourself on board, make yourself comfortable (preferably by a window – both sides have merit), put on your mask if you haven’t already (this was recorded during the pandemic, after all), and we’ll notify you when there’s a story to tell.
For now, this Window Seater journey is just a trial, and is only offered in English. If you’d like to hear it in Welsh, or if you have any comments or feedback, please contact us.
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In this trip
All roads, rivers, and railways lead to Cardiff in South Wales, mainly due to geology. So the engineers of the industrial time went to great lengths to make Cardiff Central a grand statement.
The River Taff is the river that shaped the valleys that shaped the world. Water hasn't been the only substance flowing down it.
Both the weir at Radyr and Castle Coch shortly after hints at the pre-industrial layers of South Wales' economic and architectural history.
Despite having a rather troublesome bridge, Ponty found itself in the right place when the industrial era came to South Wales. It remains a great place.
Sleepy Abercynon was once the place where an important wager was won, which pertained to a breakthrough in a technology you're no doubt using today.
Goitre Coed (Quaker's Yard) Viaduct is a picturesque 6-arch bridge spanning the Taff, which was built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Aberfan once endured a horror so dreadfully outsized for a small town, when a colliery spoil tip collapsed and engulfed the town's school.
Few cities in history have undergone the sort of extreme transformations that Merthyr Tydfil has over the centuries.