Roads and Bridges and the M4

The crossing of the Loughor was obviously of both strategic and economic importance for the people of “Gwlad Nini.”   The first crossing points of the River Loughor were the ford at Loughor or the supposed bridge at Llandeilo Talybont.

The medieval bridge at Pontarddulais was built around 1300 and stayed in place until the late 1940s.

 

 

 

A new bridge to accommodate the increasing level of traffic was built in the 1930s. The old bridge was damaged by floods and had to be removed.

 

The bridge at Pontarddulais is not within the “Gwlad Nini” area but until the construction of the M4, it carried the main road from Swansea to west Wales and was therefore very important to the economy of “Gwlad Nini”.

 

The M4 motorway J46 to 49 (Pontarddulais Bypass) was opened to traffic on 29 April 1977 and necessitated the building of the bridge across the Loughor.  This was a complex operation as access to the site was poor and the bridge foundations required a considerable amount of filling.

 

 

The Brynlliw Colliery  on the east and the Morales on the west were the designated sources of the filling, although a considerable amount was sourced from the digging of the Penderi Cut adjacent to Llys Nini.

 

The Motorway bypassed Pontarddulais, which not only made the journey from West Wales much quicker, it considerably reduced the traffic going through the centre of Pontarddulais.

However, the motorway had a significant effect on Llys Nini Farm, other local residents and the A48 road immediately in front of the farm.

 

 

The old road from Swansea to West Wales, came, through Penllergaer, Pontlliw and crossed the Loughor at Pontarddulais. 

 

 

The road at Penllergaer passed Parc Mawr Farm, the Old Inn and passed Llys Nini. Sections of the road have been altered in the Penllergaer /Pontlliw area.  It is no longer possible to take the road from Penllergaer Cross, past the Old Inn and into Swansea. The road was closed off and a housing development built just south of the pub.

 

When the Motorway was built, they had to build a bridge for the A48 to cross it, which they did at Penderi Cottages. At the time they took the opportunity to straighten a half mile section of the road just south of Penderi Cottages. The effect was to make the small part of the road outside the Cottages a dead end and to insolate the section of the old road on the north of where Llys Nini’s old farm track would have joined it.

 

Mair Mosford, who lived in no 3 Penderi Cottages, remembers the straightening of the road and the M4 construction. “The road (M4) changed everything. When it came it was a nuisance but also an improvement to the 3 houses. You used to be able to look into the upper deck of a double decker from the front bedroom and they could see into the house. The new road stopped that happening.” (144)

 

 

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It can be seen from the 1945 Google Earth map that the M4 cut through Llys Nini.”The farm spanned what is now the motorway and included the bottom meadows, across the stream, which now belong to Bach Y Gwreiddyn Farm.” Sion Alun (143)

 

The picture from 1945 shows the Llys Nini boundaries in yellow and the original tracks in red.

 

The motorway resulted in the loss of some Llys Nini land; that under the road and the small portion cut off to the north. It also cut through the farm lane to the A48 road. Therefore the Farm had to be given a new lane, which opened on to the road just south of the Penderi Garage and Cottages. This meant that the farm entrance was moved from Pontlliw to Penllergaer.

 

” In those days Llys Nini’s entrance was exactly half way between Pontlliw and Penllergaer, so we went to Pontlliw, I knew far more people there than in Penllergaer as our chapel revolved around Pontlliw. “  (143)   

 

Llys Nini’s new lane now opens on the road by the Penderi Cottages and much nearer to Penllergaer than it did originally. The then Welsh Office” who were responsible for building the Motorway, had to buy sections of land, not only for the construction of the M4 but in order to replace farm lanes such as Llys Nini.

 

 The plans show the drawings to straighten the A48 and the position of Llys Nini’s lane.

 

Llys Nini was a milk producing farm. It used to take the milk in churns down the lane to the stand on the main road.  Dennis Foley, who worked at Llys Nini in the 1960s, remembers the lane and how it was often used by courting couples in cars in the evenings.

 

Sion Alun recalls that building the motorway posed a few unexpected problems for the engineers as there were some uncharted mine workings in the woods.  “One day my Dad took a tractor into the wood and suddenly a huge hole appeared under the tractor, which was terrifying. My Dad dropped stones into the hole but didn’t hear them landing, it was really deep. This happened 2 or 3 times when I was a child.”

 

Although Vic Thomas complained to the Coal Board about the mine, they said that they had no record of it and so it was not their responsibility.

 

“ When the people came to do the survey for the M4, my father warned them about the mines but they said that they had all the old surveys and there was no record of any mine workings.  But the mines must have been older than the NCB and were not recorded.

 

“Before starting to build the motorway they had to move the electricity pylons.  I remember they drove their bull dozer on to site, into the wood and through the trees – I remember it as it was so upsetting. They drove the bull dozer into the trees and it went straight down.   

                                                      

“When they realised what was happening they brought in specialists. They dug around the hole and opened it up.  It was fascinating; to think that human beings could work in those conditions, some of the tunnels were no more than 3’ high.  Some of the tunnels went over to Bachygwreiddyn Farm. They spent a long time filling in the runs underneath the motorway.”

 

Sion explained that as the Coal Board had previously stated that the mine was not their responsibility, the Thomases were able to claim the coal from it. “We had all the coal they dug up, we gave it to all the family and it lasted 2 years at least. “

 

The Engineers’ plans for the section directly in front of the house shows the mine workings, but it is unclear whether these plans were drawn up prior to finding the mine or after.

  M4 coal

 

Hugh Jones, a Welsh speaker, was one of the Engineers employed to liaise with the local farmers. He confirms the story of the mine and also how they had to relocate a colony of badgers that were living in the woods.

 

 

 

       

 The old road from Swansea to West Wales, came, through Penllergaer, Pontlliw and crossed the Loughor at Pontarddulais.

 

1930S MAP OF A48 THROUGH PENLLERGAER

 

 

 

It can be seen from the 1945 Google Earth map that the M4 cut through Llys Nini.”The farm spanned what is now the motorway and included the bottom meadows, across the stream, which now belong to Bach Y Gwreiddyn Farm.” Sion Alun(143).

 

The motorway resulted in the loss of some Llys Nini land; that under the road and the small portion cut off to the north. It also cut through the farm lane to the A48 road. Therefore the Farm had to be given a new lane, which opened on to the road just south of the Penderi Garage and Cottages. This meant that the farm entrance was moved from Pontlliw to Penllergaer.

” In those days Llys Nini’s entrance was exactly half way between Pontlliw and Penllergaer, so we went to Pontlliw, I knew far more people there than in Penllergaer as our chapel revolved around Pontlliw. “ (143)

 

Llys Nini’s new lane now opens on the road by the Penderi Cottages and much nearer to Penllergaer than it did originally. The then Welsh Office” who were responsible for building the Motorway, had to buy sections of land, not only for the construction of the M4 but in order to replace farm lanes such as Llys Nini.

 

 

 

Llys Nini was a milk producing farm. It used to take the milk in churns down the lane to the stand on the main road. Dennis Foley, who worked at Llys Nini in the 1960s, remembers the lane and how it was often used by courting couples in cars in the evenings.

 

.

 

Hugh Jones and Frazer Gardiner, enginners working on the construction of the motorway shared their memories. See Memories of building the M4

Hugh Jones, a Welsh speaker, was one of the Engineers employed to liaise with the local farmers. He confirms the story of the mine and also how they had to relocate a colony of badgers that were living in the woods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2023 by RISING DRAGON. All rights reserved.

This site was designed with the
.com
website builder. Create your website today.
Start Now