ABOUT 10 years after this picture, in the 1830s, R J Blewitt, Liberal MP for Monmouthshire and proprietor of the Monmouthshire Merlin newspaper, rebuilt Llantarnam Abbey as his family mansion at a cost of £60,000 and, at the same time, leased land for a colliery at Upper Cwmbrân.

Blewitt built Upper Cwmbrân Square to house his workers and opened a tramroad (Porthmawr) down the valley. This tramroad dropped over 600 feet in about 1.5 miles and had three inclines.

He also built the Caerleon Tramroad through his own estate at Llantarnam to join the Porthmawr tramroad to a wharf on the River Usk at Caerleon.

He also established an ironworks and tinplate works.

Although Blewitt fled abroad in 1852, after the collapse of the Monmouthshire & Glamorganshire Bank (of which he was a director), he was the catalyst in the growth of Cwmbrân from a small rural hamlet to an industrial centre.

Nostalgia is provided by Torfaen Museum.