The Barry Railway Company was built to release the stranglehold of the Taff Vale Railway (from Merthyr Tydfil) and Cardiff Docks on the export of south Wales’ coal. Work commenced in1885. Building with great efficiency Barry docks soon overtook Cardiff in exporting coal. This impressive achievement, in no small part, was due to the rapid completion of Wenvoe tunnel build. It formed part of a substantial rail network including several branches and an 18½-mile main line from Trehafod to Barry docks. Included in this was a double-track line 1,868 yards at

Trehafod to Barry Dock

Within four years, the company ran the first scheduled train through Wenvoe tunnel in1889.

Access via Culverhouse Cross

A dated stone – 1888 – above the north portal is covered in moss enclosed in a concrete building at Culverhouse Cross Retail Park – just short of Tescos – so beware when pushing a full trolley! Access is reached from Marks and Spencer car park.

Just over one mile long

The tunnel is brick lined except for a short section at its southern end where a change in geology occurs Towards its centre is a single ventilation shaft, also brick lined, almost the full width of the structure. The top of the ventilation shaft is close to the loading bay of the PC World retail park. The height of the original shaft was reduced during the construction of the retail park. The tunnel ends near The Alps on Creigiau Lane. It is a shade over a mile is one of the longest in south Wales.

The map below shows the tunnel line


Inevitably for early industrial times, there were many accidents and fatalities. One such fatality was reported in Barry Dock News, March 4, 1892. The news item reported ‘The shocking railway fatality at Wenvoe’

End of the line

Sadly trains through the tunnel ceased when it came to a premature closer on 31st March 1963 due to a fire north of the tunnel. Since then, it has become home to a large water main supplying Barry. Junk rests on the tunnel’s floor, not helped by flooding, with waters reaching a depth of four feet after heavy rain.

Royal Train

To end with a little known story: it is recorded that Royalty used the tunnel during the Second World War. If the King and Queen were on a visit to the area the Royal train remained in the tunnel to keep them safe from night-time air raids (rogernewberry.com).

Brenig Davies