The Rhondda Tunnel Pens
These beautiful hand-turned pens where made with the teak rail track keys salvaged from inside the Rhondda tunnel. The tunnel which runs between Blaencwm in the Rhondda Valley and Blaengwynfi in the Afan Valley is 3,443 yards long (almost 2 miles!) and was completed in 1890. Sadly, seven men lost their lives during the construction of the tunnel and as a tribute to these brave souls the pens in this collection have been named in their memory. Joseph Darby, John Harris, George Lever, George Smitherham, William Shod and Isaac Watson. The name of the seventh man is unfortunately unknown.
The tunnel was closed in 1968 temporarily on safety grounds for repair work by the British Railway Board, but alas it was never reopened due to costs. The railway track was salvaged for use on another line, however, the wooden track keys that these pens are made from had been left inside the tunnel since it's closure. In 1980, both portals were eventually buried and the area landscaped to prevent unauthorized entry.
In 2014 The Rhondda Tunnel Society was formed with the vision and determination to re-open the tunnel for cyclists and walkers and provide a much needed link between the two valleys and their communities.
With new visitor attractions in the valleys there is now even more enthusiasm to get the tunnel open, and when it is open it will be the longest cycle tunnel in Europe and the second longest in the world. A tourist attraction in it's own right!