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"Ye speak of independence
There is no such thing on earth;
We depend on one another
Still, for all that life is worth.”
A VERY great change has taken place in Wales-in England-everywheresince the steam-horse first made the earth ring with its iron hoof. The introduction of railways formed a new era in the history of civilisation. There was, of course, a railway mania. People went mad about the iron roads, and everybody held scrip, and was in some way or other connected with a line between Everywhere and Somewhere, or a branch line to Nothing and Nowhere. The mania subsided. The Stags of Capel Court disappeared. The extent to which railway enterprise has employed the industry of the country, may be judged from the results of the reports:-It appears that in 1848 a quarter of a million of persons were employed in the railways of the United Kingdom; and if it be considered that each of these must have contributed to the support on an average of one or more persons, it will follow that this vast enterprise must have, at that epoch, supplied means of living to at least two per cent. of the entire population of these counties. It further appears, that on the 30th June, 1852, there were employed on the railways open for traffic 67,601; on the railways in progress of construction, 35,935; total, 103,536. It follows, therefore, that from 1848 to June 1852, 150,000 persons had been dismissed from the direct employment of the Railway Companies. But the railway system, tested by as sharp a reverse as ever yet fell on any human invention, righted and made progress; the predictions of failure were unfulfilled; jests on railways lost their point: things went on better than they had done before.
Railways in Wales are especially important, not only for passenger trafic, but for connecting mineral fields and particular mines and groups of mines with navigation. Great lines of railway cannot easily be multiplied in so mountainous a country as Wales. One of the most important of these is the Taff Railway, from Cardiff to Myrthyr Tydvil. It was begun in October 1836, and completed in less than five years. On the 8th October, 1840, it was opened from Cardiff to Llanwynns, a distance of about sixteen miles. On the 21st of April the line was opened from Navigation House, Llanwynns, to the northern termines at Myrthyr Tydvil, a further distance of eight miles. The
southern terminus may be said to be at Cardiff, though the line has been prolonged-for the conveyance of goods only we believe-to the Bule Docks. The stations are Cardiff, Llandaff, Pentyrch, Taff Well, Treforest, Newbridge, Navigation House, and Myrthyr Tydvil. The line has a very tortuous course: it rises the whole way from Cardiff to Myrthyr Tydvil. Not far from the latter station is an elegant viaduct thrown over the river, six hundred feet in length, and at an elevation of one hundred feet.
The objects of interest on the line are not very numerous, but they possess sufficient attraction to engage the attention of the visitor. The Red Castle, Glyn Taff Church, the Pont-y-Prydd, the Garth Hill Colliery, and especially the lofty range of the Brecon Beacons, are likely to excite interest.
The Red Castle, or as it is usually called Castle Coch, is a ruin of no considerable extent but singularly picturesque in its appearance. It stands on the brow of a hill, five miles from Cardiff, and has been the scene of many a battle and many a romantic incident.