Caerwent Cannonball II
A DMU railtour run by the Monmouthshire Railway Society covering rare track around South Wales on Saturday 12th May 1990. Highlights were: Newport Dock Street, Newport Docks, Oakdale, Uskmouth, Caerwent and Tidenham.
The tour stands at the Stop Board at Newport Dock Street, at the end of the branch from Alexandra Dock Junction. At this time, the line only served a coal depot - but the area to the left was once sidings serving wharves on the west bank of the River Usk and Cashmore's scrapyard, and from 1852 to 1880 it had been the passenger terminus for the Western Valley lines. To the left can be seen the Newport Transporter Bridge.
Looking in the opposite direction, the George Street bridge is visible in the distance. The track at Dock Street terminated under that bridge in a small engine shed for the Coal Depot's shunting loco. Octopus Bridge which once crossed this site had recently been demolished. Its name survives in the name of the roundabout which now covers this site.
Returning towards the main line, the train waits for the Commercial Road level crossing to be opened. The Dock Street line was the last of several branches that ran across, alongside and sometimes along the streets of the Pillgwenlly district of Newport. This railtour may have been the last passenger train to reach Dock Street as the branch closed in 1991, although a stub survives up to the site of Courtabella Crossing.
The train then ran in a large loop to reach the more modern Newport Docks. The transporter bridge is seen again - we are now further downstream on the west bank of the Usk. One line of the former double track docks branch is now out of use.
The major highlight of the tour was the chance to travel over the Oakdale Colliery branch for the final time. The colliery had closed in August 1989 (making it the last deep mine to work in Gwent), and demolition had begun.
The tour was only able to reach Rhiw-Syr-Dafydd crossing as track lifting had started just beyond there. On the branch from Lime Kiln Jn, many of the automatic level crossings were out of use, with BR providing flagmen to control traffic.
A couple of excellent YouTube videos are available showing this tour. Firstly from Ray Viney showing the tour starting at Newport, then at various places in Newport, and a number of locations on the Oakdale Branch.
Secondly, from Happierfeet Risca, showing the tour on the Oakdale branch.
For more details on this tour and the route taken visit Six Bells Junction