The New Road – Abertillery to Crumlin.
A new road from Abertillery to Crumlin was first mentioned as early as 1878 but not officially stated as a priority.
The featured image (above) shows the new road being constructed from Cwm Street, Abertillery down through the fields of Six Bells. This section was later called Alexandra Road.
On Tuesday 2nd December 1890 Abertillery Local Board on behalf of the Owners and Rate Payers of Llanhilleth held a public meeting in the Jubilee Hall at Crumlin to discuss the annexing of Llanhilleth. Mr C. J. Parkes J.P., was the Chairman and other gentlemen included – Mr J. Stanfield; Mr W. Thomas; Mr J. A. Shepard (Clerk of the Abertillery Local Board); Mr Edward Jones of (Partridge Jones & Co); Dr Williams and Mr Hammond (Chairman of the Abertillery Local Board): It was at this meeting that a new road from Abertillery to Six Bells and onto Llanhilleth and futher to Crumlin was first officially proposed.
In January 1891 the Abertillery Local Board heard how the council had acquired loans to pay for the new roads. It was mentioned that Powell’s Tillery Co were opening their new pits, the Messrs J. Lancaster Co was establishing new collieries in Six Bells and the Ebbw Vale Company was in the middle of sinking operations at Cwm. The new workings would considerably increase the population and put pressure on the old road networks.
A new road from Abertillery to Crumlin was reported as being a huge project in respect to the many landowners, a great amount of surveying, planning, the length of the roadway and all the legal work which it would encounter. Over the next few years the Abertillery Local Board proceeded with the planning and legal work and communicated with all parties involved.
In March 1894 the Abertillery Local Board met and asked Messrs Webb Bros of Aberbeeg (Brewers and Landowners) to attend the next meetings to discuss the sale of their land at Abertillery upon which the new road would pass through.
In August 1894 Mr James McBean, Surveyor had drawn up plans for the new road and he presented them to Messrs Graham, Hitchcox & Co of Newport.
In February 1895 Mr McBean’s plans presented to Messrs Graham, Hitchcox & Co of Newport were approved.
In June 1895 it was announced that the work on the new road was to go ahead. I don’t know if work actually started on the road at this time though there was no more reports on it other than land requisition.
On Monday 1st July 1895 at a District Council Meeting held at Abertillery, Mr Joseph Wallace (Chairman); Mr W. Thomas; Mr J. E. Webb; Mr G. Gregory; Mr G. C. Dancey; Mr J. T. Baker; Mr D. Lewis; Mr J. T. Williams (Vice Chairman); Mr W. Evans; Mr J. Alex Shepard (Clerk); Mr W. E. Evans (Medical Officer); Mr J. McBean (Surveyor); Mr J. Williams (Inspector) and Mr D. Edwards (Collector): Mr Thomas reported that the committee had settled with Mr Rees for £45. for land at Six Bells required by the council for the new road to Crumlin. Again I am not sure if there were any problems with land requisition but after a period of three years the council set up a committee to deal with further land requisition.
On Monday 2nd May 1898 at a District Council Meeting held at Abertillery, Mr W. Stewart (Chairman); Mr W. Davies (Vice Chairman); Mr T. J. Buckley; Mr G. Gregory; Mr W. P. Thomas; Mr W. Jones; Mr C. W. Carpenter; Mr E. J. Williams; Mr J. T. Williams; Mr A. Tilney; Mr W. Jones; Mr W. Thomas; Mr J. Wallace; Mr A. Lewis; Mr D. Lewis; Mr J. Alex Shepard (Clerk) and Mr J. McBean (Surveyor): The clerk was instructed to deal with the land owners in relation to the new road and Messrs W. Davies, W. Stewart, W. Thomas, J. T. Williams and J. Wallace were constituted a committee in this connection. It was also resolved to pay the men employed 3s. per day and the council resolved itself into a Labour Committee to deal with applications for work.
A few days later communications between the clerk and the Local Government Board in connection with the new road from Abertillery to Crumlin, Sir William Harcourt M.P., had communicated with Mr Chaplin and Mr McKenna M.P., with a loan being obtained in order to carry out the necessary work and a recent enquiry into the matter. Mr A Tilney gave thanks to the gentlemen for the interest they had taken in the matter. The surveyor submitted his estimate of the work with plans and it was decided to make an application to the Local Government Board for the necessary loan amounting to £16,000.
On Monday 16th May 1898 at the Abertillery District Council Offices King Street, the council having made an application to the Local Government Board for sanction to borrow money for the construction of the new road from Abertillery to Aberbeeg and for the widening of the highway from Aberbeeg to Crumlin, Col A. G. Durnford R.E., one of the inspectors of the Local Government Board, conducted a public enquiry. Members of the council present were as follows – Mr W. Stewart (Chairman); Mr W. Davies (Vice Chairman); Mr A. Tilney; Mr E. J. Williams; Mr W. Jones; Mr J. T. Williams; Mr D. Lewis; Mr C. B. Cook; Mr W. Thomas; Mr W. P. Thomas; Mr T. J. Buckley; Mr G. Gregory and Mr J. Wallace: Also present were County Councillors Mr S. N. Jones J.P.; Mr J. Monks; Mr Samuel; Dr W. E. Williams; Mr J. Alex Shepard (Clerk); Mr Gough (Deputy Clerk) and Mr McBean (Surveyor):
At the meeting Mr Shepard explained that the council was to apply for a loan amounting to £16,000 repayment to be extended over a period of 40 years. The council had decided to apply for a loan as it was necessary to have a new road on the eastern side of the valley, the landowners had been approached and the colliery owners were given particulars of the effects the new road would have on collieries that were on land along its route.
Mr W. Stewart (Chairman) in supporting its application stated “The old road was very circuitous and there were some very steep gradients on it. The new road would be such that step gradients would be avoided and it would become a main road for the whole valley”. He went on to say “Along the new road there were four collieries, all of which were in process of development and there were building site for the men employed at these collieries”. “The old road at Six Bells was very poor and badly approached though the new road would go through the centre of the village”. “The new road would also be laid with pipes required for future gas and water use”. Mr Stewart also said “It would also open out the village for building purposes, house accommodation was very scarce at the present time”.
Figures were issued in connection with the village population and housing before the construction of the new road, they were as follows – Six Bells, 158 houses with a population of 869. Aberbeeg, 135 houses with a population of 752. Llanhilleth, 476 houses with a population of 1,618. Crumlin (portion affected) 60 houses with a population of 350. It was at this very meeting that Mr Samuel pointed out that the new road was seen as a necessity as early as 1878. Mr J. Monks also supported the application and examined the plans and the enquiry was officially closed.
In June 1898 at a District Council meeting members of the council present were as follows – Mr W. Stewart (Chairman); Mr W. Davies (Vice Chairman); Mr A. Tilney; Mr E. J. Williams; Mr W. Jones; Mr J. T. Williams; Mr D. Lewis; Mr C. B. Cook; Mr W. Thomas; Mr Moses Adams; Mr T. Evans; Mr W. P. Thomas; Mr T. J. Buckley; Mr G. Gregory and Mr J. Wallace; Mr J. Alex Shepard (Clerk) and Mr McBean (Surveyor): It was reported that the council was in communication with Messrs Webb Bros for permission to enter the land of their tenant Mr J. Phillips at Cwm Farm for the purpose of making the new road from Abertillery to Six Bells and they also asked the clerk to write to Messrs Davies & Lloyd to ascertain the true position of their client Mrs Nurse with regard to the land sold by her to the council and then being claimed by the Great Western Railway Company.
In August 1898 it was reported that the Chairman of the new road Committee was Mr Alderman Parfitt.
On Friday 2nd September 1898 at special meeting was held at the Abertillery District Council Offices at King Street, Abertillery, a letter was read from the Local Government Board sanctioning the loan of £14,000 for the purpose of making the new road from Abertillery to Crumlin. The tender for the loan of £14,000., for making the new road from Abertillery to Aberbeeg and for widening the existing road from Aberbeeg to Crumlin was received from the Public Works Loans Board at a rate of two and three quarter percent was accepted on the motion of Mr Baker and Mr Evans.
In October 1898 it was announced that the council had received the first half of the loan for the new road and Mr McBean had the authority to go ahead with the work. It was stated that Mr T. P. Price had kindly given his land between Six Bells and Abertillery, being more generous in this respect than other land owners. It was also stated the new road would be laid with footpaths.
In November 1898 the council were receiving tenders from local contractors for the making of the new road.
On Wednesday 23rd November 1898 at a special meeting of the Abertillery District Council held at King Street, Abertillery, the council under the presidency of Mr W. Stewart, ten tenders were received from contractors for the construction of the new road from Abertillery to Six Bells then to Aberbeeg then widening the existing road on to Crumlin.
The Contractor and Architect.
The tenders received were as follows – Messrs Monks & Parfitt of Newport for £12,313. 19s. 10d.; Messrs Preece of Hereford £18,349.; Messrs W. Brown of Merthyr £17,467.; Messrs Meredith of Gloucester £16,158.; Messrs Mainwaring & Davies £15,687.; Messrs Willis of Ystrad £15,438.; Mr Noel Bagley of Abertillery £14,347.; Messrs Howells of Caerphilly £14,275. and Mr Lewis of Llanhilleth £13,713.: The lowest tender was that of the Contractors Messrs Monks & Parfitt of Newport for £12,313. 19s. 10d., (as seen left) which includes the whole of the work mentioned.
In December 1898 the council on the motion of Mr C. W. Carpenter stated that they had approved of and affixed the “seal of the council” to the conveyances and assignments in connection with the new road from Abertillery to Aberbeeg and the widening of the road from Aberbeeg to Crumlin.
On the 20th December 1898 the council issued notices for tenders for the post of clerk of works in connection with the new road and widening of the existing road to Crumlin. The person appointed must have knowledge of plans and laying-out and measuring up of earth works, walling and other works in connection with road building. The person must be able to commence his duties upon receiving an order from the surveyor. Tenders must be sent in before Saturday 7th January 1899. Signed J. Alex Shepard, Clerk to the Council, No1 King Street, Abertillery.
In January 1899 in connection with the tenders for the post of clerk of works for the new road, the council received the following applications – Mr Albert Macey of Gellygroes, Cardiff; Mr James Reardon of Commecrcial Road, Cardiff; Mr T. Davies C.E., of Canton, Cardiff; Mr J. Bevan of Maindee, Newport; Mr W. T. Morgan of Oriental, Crumlin; Mr John Speak of Beaufort; Mr William Theo Oliver Jones of Brynteg, Abertillery; Mr F. J. Withers of Maindee, Newport; Mr Thomas Oakley of Aberdare; Mr George Glover of Rosebery Street, Abertillery and Mr T. Lawrence of Newbridge: Each applicant had to include the wage that he was willing to accept as a salary, the average salary at this time was £2. The tenders of Mr Glover of Rosebery Street, Abertillery and Mr Thomas Oakley of Aberdare was accepted and they were elected to the post of Clerk of Works with a salary of £2.10s. 0d.
The building of the New Road went ahead though was hit by a series of set-backs and made slow progress.
In late 1899 Messrs Webb Bros Brewers of Aberbeeg saw an opportunity to have a new hotel built on the new road from Abertillery to Six Bells on a plot of land on the Cwm Estate, close to the junction of Queen Street and Cwm Street. This hotel was to be called the Cwm Hotel. The Cwm Hotel was planned to be built on on the Cwm Estate adjacent to the new road and bounded to the north and east by land owned by Reverend Daniel Griffiths of Llangranog Rectory, Llandyssil, Cardiganshire and Mr Robert Thomas Martin of Caederwen, Clytha Park, Newport.
The Licensing Committee initially refused the Webb Bros a licence as they brought their attention to the fact the Webb Bros already had two pubs (The Forge Hammer on King Street and The Ivorites Inn on Castle Street) within close proximity to the proposed new hotel and that the new hotel. To compromise the Webb Bros decided to close their other two pubs, The Forge Hammer and The Ivorites Inn and the construction of the Cwm Hotel went ahead on Alexandra Road, it later closed and became the Council Offices and is now an Housing Complex.
The Opening of the New Road.
In January 1902 it was reported that the new road was open to heavy carts etc, though not officially taken over by the council. Mr Carpenter (Councillor) voiced his concerns over the fact that if the council hadn’t taken over the new road and yet it was being used, who would be held responsible if any accidents occurred? He wanted to know what the situation was regarding Insurance.
In November 1905 the council put in oil lamps down the new road pending the installation of gas lamps.
It was planned to have a Railless Trolley Bus system installed along the new road prior to the first World War.
The Later Years.
The road was being used as such until the mid to late 1980’s when the new A467 was laid up through the district on the opposite side of the valley.