Oct 2022 – Gelli Tunnel, Cymmer, Glamorgan.

Nation.Cymru has reported that Gelli Houses Tunnel (usually known simply as ‘Gelli’) has been closed off for the forseeable future, following an inspection. The 166-yard horseshoe-shaped tunnel is located on the section of Rhondda & Swansea Bay Railway which closed in 1960 when a new connection opened allowing traffic to be diverted on to the parallel GWR line between Cymmer and Blaengwynfi. In February 2021, Neath Port Talbot Councill received a request for filming in the tunnel and it came to light that it had no records regarding the site. The inevitable ‘safety’ issues then surfaced. The inspection claimed that ‘sections of it had collapsed.’ However, the Club Editor visited the site last year and saw no sign of this. While the brickwork section to the northern end of the tunnel was said to be in good condition, the masonry span which accounts for the majority of the tunnel was in a poor condition and would have required substantial work. As a result of the findings, the application for filming was declined and an emergency closure was put in place to prevent access for public safety. A number of options were considered with regards to the future of the site, including the astonishing proposal to collapse the tunnel, or (better) to refurbish it for re-opening to the public. Following recommendations though, they went for the tried and trusted – and depressingly anti-environmental – palisade fencing at each end. The tunnel is not a listed structure but was, until this latest development, a pleasantly accessible ‘find’ just off the NCN route. (Nation.Cymru; Chris Parker; RR)