Arriva Trains Wales
This is an extract from the page on Arriva Trains Wales. To
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and Chepstow-Swansea section, the Heart of Wales, Swansea and
West Wales section, or the full version which combines the
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Chepstow 37 minutes
is located on the River Wye which forms the historic border between England and the old county of Monmouthshire (Gwent). Rising spectacularly out of the river atop high cliffs is the Norman castle, parts of which date from around 1070. From the same period is the Benedictine Abbey Church of St Mary. The old town walls are largely intact, and include the West Gate which straddles the High Street. Crossing the Wye are the iron road bridge which dates from 1816, and Brunel's tubular structure (1852), though the impact of the latter has been diminished by the removal of the tubes during reconstruction in the early 1960s, and its proximity to the more-recent addition of the motorway bridge which parallels it.
The town's racecourse is in Piercefield Park in the north of Chepstow, while three miles to the south is the first Severn Bridge which opened in 1966, joined thirty years later by the second Severn Crossing, further down stream.
Newport 12 minutes
Straddling the River Usk, Newport was the principal port of the old county of Monmouthshire. The central area contains the shopping centre, library and museum, cinemas and theatres; and is surrounded by steep hills. The town was at the centre of the Chartist rebellion of 1839, and there are many reminders of the uprising. John Frost Square is dedicated to the leader of the rebellion, and was dominated by Andy Plant's massive sculptural clock called "In the Nick of Time." On the hour, the 31-ft tall, stainless steel construction emitted smoke before splitting asunder with alarming clanks and groans while devils and skeletons appeared at various windows. Unfortunately, the town centre regeneration has meant that the unique clock has been dismantled and placed in storage. It will be placed on display again, though where and when is undecided.
One of Newport's more famous literary figures is the tramp-poet W. H. Davies, and there is a sculpture in the Square based on one of his most famous lines: 'What is this life if full of care....'
At the top of Stow Hill is St Woolos Cathedral, while down river is one of the unique features of the town: the recently restored Transporter Bridge (pictured right). One of only three in the world, cars and passengers are taken across the river in a gondola suspended by cables from a motorised overhead trolley.
During the week of July 31 2004, Newport hosted the National Eisteddfod in Tredegar Park on the western outskirts of the town. Tredegar House, a 17th century manor house was occupied for 500 years by the powerful Morgan family, but is now open to the public.
The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff staged eleven Olympics 2012 football matches between July 25th and August 10th. Four of the opening matches involved teams in the Women's Tournament, and the last game was the play-off for the bronze medal in the Men's event won 2 - 0 by Japan.
...is the gateway to the coast and Valley areas of south east Wales.
A city since 1905, and the capital of Wales since 1955, Cardiff stands at the mouth of the River Taff (part of which was diverted in the mid-nineteenth century to clear a site for what is now Cardiff Central railway station). Noted for its Victorian arcades and pedestrianised shopping areas, it also offers top class facilities for sport, theatre and the cinema.
Cardiff Castle (left) has Roman and Norman connections, but, apart from Roman remains at the base of the south east walls, the Norman Keep and the 15th century Western Apartments, what you see is mostly a Victorian reconstruction.
Nearby, the civic centre is considered among the finest in Europe, and incorporates the museum, law courts, the former Welsh Office (now the secretariat of the Welsh Assembly), university buildings and the City Hall. With a referendum in September 1997 narrowly voting for the establishment of a Welsh Assembly to govern Wales, the City Hall was one of the venues under consideration to house the body, but the Assembly - which first sat on June 1 1999 - was first housed in Crickhowell House in Cardiff Bay but has moved into the adjacent Senedd (Welsh for Senate) Building (see below).
Behind City Hall is Alexandra Gardens with its imposing War Memorial commemorating two World Wars and more recent conflicts.
In the city centre, the other building of great antiquity is St John's Church, parts of which date from the thirteenth century.
There are several malls off the pedestrianised shopping area, which also has St David's Hall - renowned for concerts by top-class orchestras and entertainers - and the Motorpoint International Arena, the venue for conferences, pop concerts, ice shows, and the like.
St David's Phase Two, a new shopping mall on the southern side of the city centre, opened on October 22 2009.
The New Theatre celebrated its centenary in 2006, and stages plays and other productions, including those by the internationally-celebrated Welsh National Opera until the WNO moved into its new home: the Wales Millennium Centre for the Performing Arts (see below) which opened in November 2004 with a spectacular Gala concert attended by Her Majesty The Queen.
Close to the city centre, on the banks of the river, the Millennium Stadium (right) is the home of Welsh Rugby. Opened for a Wales v South Africa friendly in June 1999, it took on international importance when it staged early rounds of the Rugby World Cup that October, and the Final on 6 November of the same year. It is now used to stage Wales' home games in the Six Nations Rugby Tournament, international football matches, concerts and other high-profile events. While Wembley Stadium was being developed it was also the venue of prestigious football matches, including the Worthington and FA Cup Finals. A very versatile building, it also stages speedway, monster truck and religious conventions.
In 2012 Olympic Women's football, and men's finals were staged in the Stadium.
A mile to the south, the Cardiff Bay development has transformed the derelict docklands area into a leisure, residential and light-industrial complex, while the barrage which dams the mouths of the Taff and Ely rivers was brought into operation on November 4 1999 to create a 500-acre freshwater lake. It is now possible to walk over the barrage from Cardiff Bay to Penarth. In June 2012, the Dr Who Experience opened, dedicated, as the name suggests, to all things Dr Who, which is filmed in the Porth Teigr studios a short distance away, as well as locations around the city and farther afield.
To the north of the city, is Llandaff Cathedral, which has been a place of worship for more than 1,400 years. Partly destroyed by bombs during World War II, the cathedral was rebuilt and rededicated in 1958, its nave overarched by the sculpture of Christ in Majesty by Jacob Epstein.
On the city's western boundary is the Museum of Welsh Life at St Fagan's, which recreates the Welsh way of life in authentic buildings from all over Wales. Dismantled brick-by-brick from their original locations and reassembled at St Fagan's - itself a manor house dating from the Civil War era - they provide a base for many practitioners of old crafts such as pottery and woodcarving, and also includes a blacksmith's forge.
The Cardiff Bay area has been developed as a waterfront park with leisure, residential
and light-industrial complexes on reclaimed derelict dockland, and is the start of the
Taff Trail which can be followed as far as Brecon, 57 miles away.
The major feature is the Barrage which can be reached by road train from its stop outside the car park in Stuart Street. You can also walk across the barrage as far as Penarth, passing en route the new Dr Who Experience which opened on July 20 2012, close to the new BBC studio complex at Roath Lock where Dr Who, Casualty, Sherlock and other prestigious productions are made.
The Welsh assembly meets in the Senedd (Welsh for Senate), the new debating chamber which has been built alongside the Pierhead Building (pictured left, a striking terracotta edifice that was once the headquarters of the Bute Dock and Railway Company, which opened the first of the docks in 1839, and was the prime influence behind the Taff Vale Railway. It is now used as the Visitor Centre for the National Assembly.
The Wales Millennium Centre for the Performing Arts opened in November 2004 with a spectacular Gala Concert attended by Her Majesty the Queen. It is the home of Welsh National Opera and seven other performing arts groups including the Urdd, the Welsh organisation for the youth of Wales. Adjoining is Alun Hoddinot Hall, named after the late Welsh composer, which is a base for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales.
Outside the Millennium Centre is Roald Dahl Place - named after the children's writer who was born in the Cardiff suburb of Llandaff - built on the site of the basin of the Bute West Dock, now used for street theatre and open-air concerts. The steel column with water cascading down it (at extreme right in the photograph alongside) will be recognised by fans of Torchwood - the spin-off from the successful BBC Wales television series Dr Who, filmed largely in Cardiff and the surrounding area - as supposedly the entrance to Torchwood. The latest series of Torchwood has emigrated to the United States, though.
A coffee bar and art gallery has been established in the Norwegian Seamen's Church where Roald Dahl was baptised as a child. A short distance away was 'The Tube' - a cigar-shaped structure which housed the Cardiff Bay visitors' centre. It was the base for the Spirit of Cardiff, a powerboat which attempted the fastest circumnavigation of the world in 2002. The target was almost 25,000 miles in 50 days, calling at 26 different countries, but a series of misadventures, culminating in a heart attack suffered by one of the crew, led to the attempt being abandoned, though not before a number of records were broken,
Tied up permanently at the quay alongside the site of The Tube is the Helwick Lightship, which was stationed off the Gower Peninsular guarding a treacherous sandbank 50 miles northwest of Cardiff, but is now used as a Christian Fellowship centre.
A short distance along the quay is a sculpture recognising the role of miners and the mining industry in creating the wealth which made Cardiff the foremost coal exporting port in Britain; the foundation of the capital city we see today.
A little farther away, Techniquest is a unique hands-on science centre which demonstrates scientific principles and phenomena in colourful and surprising ways.
The St David's Hotel was one of the first Five-Star rated establishments in the city. Mermaid Quay a is modern eating and shopping complex which also overlooks Plas Roald Dahl (Roald Dahl Place).
Boats and water taxis (pictured left) ply their trade around the bay and up-river as far as the Castle near the city centre. They will also land you on the Barrage itself - also reached on foot from near the Norwegian Church - where you can see the massive sluice gates in operation.
Continuing along the South Wales Main Line, the next station is:
Pontyclun 12 minutes
A town at the boundary of the former coal field, and the rural Vale of Glamorgan. Nearby is Llantrisant, which has a charter dating from 1346, but is more famed, perhaps, for the part played by one of its former inhabitants in legislating for the disposal of bodies by cremation. Nineteenth-century druid and mystic Dr William Price settled in Llantrisant and, in 1884, scandalised the town by burning the remains of his son named Iesu Grist (the Welsh form of Jesus Christ), who had died in infancy. Brought to trial, he was acquitted on payment of one-farthing costs. The Doctor himself was cremated in a field near the town on January 31 1893, and a statue in his memory has been erected in the town square.
The latest station on the South Wales mainline opened on December 9 2007. Llanharan is mainly residential. St Julian and St Aaron Church dates from the mid-19th century with colourful stained glass east window. Llanharan House, northeast of the station is about a hundred years older, and has a massive cantilevered circular stone staircase. About 3km southwest is Llanhilid where the short-lived film and television studio complex - dubbed Valleywood - was built. Also at Llanhilid, St Illid and St Curig church is of indeterminate age, but the nearby castle ringwork is 12th century.
Pencoed 26 minutes
A mainly residential town on the River Ewenny, it is surrounded by green fields and rolling countryside. In June 1998, it hosted the annual Welsh National Eisteddfod.
Bridgend 29 minutes
A market town, Bridgend gives access to the Vale of Glamorgan, and has a number of medieval castle ruins in the area. Among these are Coity and Ogmore, the latter close to stepping stones across the River Ogmore which also gives access to the Glamorgan Coastal Path. Two miles from Bridgend is the village of Ewenny, with its pottery and Norman Priory. North of the town are the formerly industrialised valleys of Llynfi, Garw and Ogmore, while to the west is the traditional seaside resort of Porthcawl. Arriva Trains Wales run services into the Llynfi Valley serving stations to Maesteg. There are also connection with the Vale of Glamorgan line to Barry and Cardiff.
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This is an extract from the Valley Lines pages. To access the main site select either the Taff Valleys and Cardiff section, the Rhymney Valley, Cardiff and coast section, or the full version which combines the two.
Select this link to return to the Gazetteer of Stations or Route Sections page.
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1996/7/8/9/2000/1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8/9/10/11 /12/13/14 by Deryck Lewis. All rights reserved.
Page created March 17 2005; Last updated May 18 2014
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