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Photographs by Chris Jennings (Part 2). On this page, Chris continues his explorations of the LNWR's Heads of the Valleys line, but finishes off with a couple of interesting photographs from Birkenhead, near where he lives. It will be noted that these visits enjoyed rather better weather than attended his April 2008 visit to south Wales!

Above: This rudimentary structure is the passenger shelter at Gelli Felin, the first station on the Heads of the Valleys Line east of Brynmawr, and it proves that mean looking station facilities are not entirely a product of the 1960s and 1970s. A contributor on the 'flickr' website commented: 'Sited in such a strange location, seemingly serving just one house, this station is clearly a later addition to the route'. It was actually opened in LMS days, probably for the benefit of local workmen. 5th April 2013. (Chris Jennings)

 
Above: Just east of Gelli Felin halt, the line plunged into the darkness of the twin bore Gelli Felin Tunnels; that there are two of these reflects the line's original single track construction, and its later doubling. The white material to the left of the eastbound portal is a large sheet of ice. 5th April 2013. (Chris Jennings)
 

Left: Just inside the eastbound tunnel was an impressive display of icicles, as can be seen here – the first icicles to appear on this website. The first bore was opened in 1862, with the second following in 1877. The tunnels are only 352 yards long but are pitch black inside because they incorporate a curve of 90 degrees. 5th April 2013. (Chris Jennings)

 
Above: A view of the Gelli Felin area from above the tunnel portals, looking west. Tiny Gelli Felin halt is situated in the distance where the line curves away to the left. When this line was closed in January 1958, its removal from the network saved British Railways an estimated £60,000 a year – a vast sum in those days. 28th March 2009. (Chris Jennings)
 
Above: West of Gelli Felin, the engineering drama continued. The trackbed can be seen clearly in the foreground, with several blind arches below. These were constructed when the line was doubled; it was cheaper and quicker for the railway to widen the track over the edge of the mountainside than cut away yet more stone. 28th March 2009. (Chris Jennings)
 
Above: This study of the cutting wall seen in the photograph above gives a very clear impression of how much stone the railway had to remove from this location. Between Brynmawr and Abergavenny, eight bridges and two tunnels were required, plus a climb of over 1,000 feet, which made this one of the steepest stretches of railway in the UK; one three-mile section had a rising gradient of 1 in 34. In the 21st century, this must be one of the most heavily engineered cycle trails anywhere in the country. 28th March 2009. (Chris Jennings)
 

Above: This structure, which Chris describes as 'Clydach No. 2 Viaduct', must be near invisible when the trees are in leaf; it is situated east of the village's station and main 8-arch viaduct (see Photo Gallery 124) at grid reference SO 226125, on the far side of an abandoned quarry. In an attempt to find the official name – given that, sometimes, the railways can make it difficult to find the correct names for structures – Chris looked through some posts on a Facebook group and came across one which appeared to have local knowledge and referred to it as 'Sychant Viaduct', although we're not sure where the name comes from. If you can clarify, please get in touch via our Contact page. 28th March 2009. (Chris Jennings)

 
Above: To finish this page, how about some blue sky in Birkenhead? This is the Central Hydraulic Tower and Engine House, which once provided power for lock gates and lifting bridges at Birkenhead Docks. For further details, visit the web page here. Note the abandoned buffer stop in the foreground. 3rd July 2016. (Chris Jennings)
 
Above: Near the Central Hydraulic Tower will be found Birkenhead Bascule Bridge, with its lifting span to the left. This distinctive structure is due to be replaced after Wirral Council successfully bid for millions of pounds of government cash. The intention is to improve traffic flows and provide better facilities for walkers and cyclists, but will the new bridge look as impressive as this? 3rd July 2016. (Chris Jennings)