Gunpowder Works

On sunday I took a trip up the valley to the edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park to Pontneddfechan(1) for a walk along the river in what's colloquially referred to as Waterfall Country, an area with many beautiful accessible waterfalls, with one, Sgwd yr Eira, that you can actually walk behind.

Alongside the river Mellte is the remains of a Gunpowder Works, founded in 1857 and eventually abandoned in 1931. Along the route are little wind up audio tour guides, which sounds amazing but they're just rusty boxes on a pole with a handle - wind clockwise for Welsh language, anti-clockwise for English language - dotted about near points of interest.

The audio trails are in some cases quite amusing/horrifying so may be worth you listening to online(2). One story describes what joining the workforce must have been like, paraphrasing:

"You'll notice all of the buildings you'll be working in have 3 stone walls and wooden fourth wall and roof. This is for when there is an explosion you see."


"Yes, when there is an explosion the roof and wall will blow out thus protecting the integrity of the other walls and the expensive machinery. But don't fret, there is an automated system that in the event of said explosion the other buildings automatically flood with water from a clever system of aqueducts and leats. And should you find yourself on fire there is a convenient tank into which you can jump."


"Also, you can grow a small garden on the extensive grounds if you wish, isn't that nice?"

"Garden? Did you say if I'm on fire?"

Reference Information

- (1) Pontneddfechan means "bridge over the Little Neath" in Welsh.
- Pontneddfechen Gunpowder Works - Brecon Beacons National Parks Website
- Waterfall Country - Wikipedia
- (2) The Powder Trail audio trail, Pontneddfechan, Waterfall Country - Brecon Beacons National Parks Website