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Latitude: 51.7773 / 51°46'38"N
Longitude: -3.0885 / 3°5'18"W
OS Eastings: 324997
OS Northings: 209295
OS Grid: SO249092
Mapcode National: GBR F2.ZBHJ
Mapcode Global: VH79C.FL2D
Entry Name: Balance Tower
Listing Date: 9 February 1995
Last Amended: 9 February 1995
Source ID: 15292
Building Class: Industrial
Location: Situated at the northern end of the Blaenavon Ironworks site and dominating the complex.
Community: Blaenavon (Blaenafon)
Locality: Blaenavon Ironworks
Built-Up Area: Blaenavon
Traditional County: Monmouthshire
The water balance was used to lift iron and raw materials in trams between the furnace tops and the yard area. The tower was built in 1839, as part of a modernisation programme by James Ashworth, managing director of the Blaenavon Iron and Coal Company. Originally linked to the high ground behind by wooden bridge; later replaced by the surviving stone bridge. The tower housed a hydraulic lift comprising iron frame with wheel and chain over, linking a pair of lift cages. The cages each incorporated an iron water tank; by piping water in or out, trams could be lifted or lowered as required. Known locally as the 'guillotine' due to the action of the cages falling past the oval openings in the tower. Very few such towers survive.
Built adjacent to high ground, on a T-shaped plan, the facade of this monumental stone construction tapers towards its ruined top. Remains of the iron hoist also survive. The rusticated ashlar facade has three large openings running vertically through its centre, each with three centred arches top and bottom. These are flanked by two huge pilasters. The lowest opening contains an arched entrance way for the trams, with a pit behind to accommodate the water tanks. Dressed stone to quoins and openings. The north-west corner of the tower incorporates a ruined structure. To the south-east the tower adjoins a retaining wall. The top of the tower and the bank to the rear are linked by a large, single span, stone bridge with dressed voussoirs.
Part of Scheduled Ancient Monument Mm 200.
Listed at grade I as the most complete example of a balance tower in Wales.
Group value with other listed items at the internationally important Blaenavon Ironworks.
Other nearby listed buildings