In the small town of Ammanford in Carmarthenshire, a few miles north of Swansea, a turn to the east from the A483 will take you onto the A474 and, if you so choose, on to Briton Ferry via Pontardawe and Neath. This is another classic example of where it would be quicker to take the A483 and M4 but hey – why not give this road a try?
Level crossing in Ammanford
From Ammanford, the route heads east along a single-carriageway alignment, following the River Amman towards Glynaman, then onto Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen (GCG), where we gradually turn southwards. After entering Glamorgan we meet the A4069, a road that will take you to Brynaman and into the Black Mountain, the western mountain of the Brecon Beacons National Park.
We continue south through former coal-mining territory, reaching Pontardawe, on the A4067 Swansea Valley road. As the A4067 now bypasses Pontardawe town centre, we negotiate a series of roundabouts to reach the southern side of the valley, eventually climbing over the top of the A4067 as we continue our way towards Neath.
Very precise signpost on the A474 at Rhos, near Pontardawe
The road climbs climb quickly in a north-easterly direction to leave the valley before turning south once again and passing through Rhos and close to Bryncoch (bypassed in the late 20s or early 30s) before descending into the Neath Valley.
Furnace Terrace in Neath
Having reached the north bank of the River Neath, the road turns right and passes under the main South Wales railway line and then a footbridge which – crossing a minor freight railway line, the A465 dual carriageway, the Tennant Canal, and the river – gives access to Neath town centre. At the next roundabout, just before Neath Abbey, the A474 turns left onto a dual-carriageway link road which meets the A465 at a grade-separated junction.
Beyond the A465 we cross over the River Neath, the Neath Canal, and the mainline railway on a causeway-like raised road which delivers us to a roundabout at the south end of Neath town centre. Here we turn right and pick up the old route of the A48 towards Briton Ferry. Running parallel to the railway, we eventually reach the modern route of the A48 at a roundabout at the east end of the first Briton Ferry bridge (completed in 1953), where our route terminates.
Originally the A474 ran from the A40 in Llandeilo to the A48 in Neath. Extension of the A483 in 1935 cut the A474 back to Ammanford but the road was extended at the other end in the 1950s when the A48 was rerouted over the Briton Ferry bridge and the A474 took on its original route. Sizeable sections of the A474 have since been bypassed.