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This is a series of substantial extracts from "The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921". By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea ; Pamphlet 4.  1940.
After the initial general introduction I will generally confine extracts to factual data and will try not to duplicate subjects existing already on Swansea, its Port and Trade and their Development.

There is a list of Contents of this  book here


"The economic development of the Swansea District reflects the interplay of a number of factors; there are periods of slow and gradual progress, of stagnation and retardation, and times of remarkable industrial acceleration and progressive expansion. In the following account, an attempt has been  made to trace the stages in the economic history of Swansea and its geographic hinterland, to recognise and assess the contribution of complex factors --natural resources and human effort, native and external to the region--and to furnish evidence and documentation in so far as the prescribed limits of this publication would allow.

There is a lack of suitable material for the period before AD 1400. Progress was gradual and intermittent during the C15 and C16 when, although coal-mining , the smelting of mineral ores, and some amount of maritime trade had been established, the region must have remained largely self sufficing and agricultural in character. The foundations of metallurgical industries were well and truly laid in the C18, and were accompanied by extensive exploitation of the coal reserves of the entire region. Maritime trade expanded. Adjustments were necessary to cope with the industrial revolution rapidly taking place ; harbour improvements, new modes of transport by road, canal, and rail resulted ; suitable locations were found for new works ; factories were reconstructed to deal with changing industries, copper, lead, zinc, iron, steel, and tinplates ; the influx of capital and labour had far reaching effects upon settlement, housing, social and cultural amenities etc.

The author regrets that he has not been able to deal more fully with the lives of those "big men" of industry and inventive skill to whose initial efforts and courage, sometimes unrewarded financially, a great deal of the industrial prosperity of the region during the past 150 years is due. Economic conditions are not static but, given a favourable geographical location, a wealth of natural resources, and a virile and adaptable people, the adjustments and readjustments, which have to be made to meet changing conditions, are always possible.

The lessons and experiences of the past enlighten the present ; even wars reveal errors and maladjustments, and may teach the urgent need for decentralization and redistribution of industries unfavourably located under modern state and world conditions.............."

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940 Gareth]

Pre C19 Developments

The military conquests of South Wales from the close of the C11 onwards had resulted in the creation of several lordships-marcher directly related to the many strategic castles. Swansea became the chief borough town in the lordship of Gower whose limits were, broadly the rivers Loughor and Tawe on west and east, the Bristol Channel on the south, and the Cathan, Twrch and Amman rivers on the north. East of the lower Tawe was the lordship of Kilvey.

Swansea became a regional frontier town. It commanded the most vulnerable approach from the east and north into the peninsula of Gower ; it controlled the ferry route across the Tawe; and was situated upon the boundary of two distinct and contrasting regions both agriculturally and humanly at this period.

Early shipping ;

During the years 1709-12 the following Swansea ships are recorded in the port books

  • Mary and Susannah-40 tons
  • John and Mary-72 tons
  • Mary and Ann-56 tons
  • Philip and Mary-56 tons
  • John and Sarah-60 tons
  • William-84 tons
  • Peace of Swansea-87 tons

Their captains bore the familiar Welsh names of Harry, Bevan, Maddocks, and Vaughan.
The total tonnage of coasting vessels belonging to the port of Swansea in 1709 was 2148 tons.

The colliers trading in the Bristol Channel ports generally carried additional cargoes of pastoral products including live animals, wool, stockings, hats, gloves, bacon, butter, oatmeal etc.

Some extracts from the Bridgwater [SOM] port book illustrates this;

  • 11 June 1682, landed from a Swansea boat;- 40 chaldrons coal London measure, 20 gallons butter, 2 bags nails, 60 Welsh pigs, and 40 sheep.
  • 29th June 1682, in the Thomas and Elizabeth from Neath, Thomas Morgan master, 36 chaldrons coal London measure, 4 dickers leather, 34 1/2 gallons butter in pots, 200 bags oatmeal, 1 bag wool, 5 flitches bacon, thousand[?] eggs, 1 piece gray flannel, 1piece blanket, 2 dozen stockings, 2 gross Welsh gartering.
  • Other ships mentioned ; the Speedwell of Bridgwater ; the Richard and Jane of Swansea, master Morgan Harrison.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  Gareth 8 Dec 2000 G]


The history of the smelting industries in this general locality takes us back to 1584 when Ulricke Frosse, representing the Mines Royal Society,  was on the local scene in Neath.

The copper ore imported from Cornwall was mined in the region from St Just to St Ives and was sent to Neath from the port of St Ives and in Neath boats, some owned by the Mines Royal Company. Timber from Neath formed the return cargo of at least one vessel.

The Neath Abbey area , where the remains of first copper furnace in the Swansea District was located, had the advantages over Cornwall itself, for smelting purposes, of sea coals and local forests for wood for charcoal, both of which were lacking in Cornwall.Plus the accessibility of the Neath River to the furnaces.

It is also in Neath that the nest recorded smelting works was erected, this time on the eastern bank of the river at Melincrythan, about a mile from the town on the Briton Ferry road. This works was started by Sir Humphrey Mackworth in 1695, eventually being owned by the Mine Adventurers Company.

Snippets re this works;

  • c 1695 fuel was the biggest cost item, 18 tons of coal being needed to produce 1 ton of copper
  • New furnaces for smelting of lead ore were built in 1703 on Gnoll Hill by men sent from Cardiganshire.
  • Labour for the mines may have been difficult to obtain for, on one occasion, criminals from Aylesbury and Bedford jails were sent by boat from London to Neath.
  • It seems the extraction of lead and silver were the main activities here at this time, the lead ores coming from the Cardiganshire mines of Cwmsymlog, Goginan, and Cwmystwyth by sea from the Dovey estuary. Copper ores for Neath came from both Cardiganshire and Cornwall.
  • At Bristol in 1703, 1200 tons of lead from Neath were sold at £8 a ton.
  • The Company paid one William Williams the annual sum of £30 for the education of the poor workmen's children of Neath.

Two other Neath locality  copper works are mentioned during this century[C17];

  • The copper battery mill at Cwm-y-Felin [1694-1790], became an iron mill in 1792.
  • Roe & Company's Copper Works [the Cheadle Works] erected some time in the 1790s but abandoned in 1821.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940. Gareth.  8 Dec 2000 G]

In Swansea itself, the recorded copper /lead smelting works were those at;

  • Landore, in Llangyfelach parish, built by Dr Lane of Bristol in 1717 and taken over by Morris Lockwood & Co in 1726. The ore was brought up the River Tawe in 60 ton boats to the quay at Landore.
  • The Old Copper Works [ at the Burlaisbrook junction with the Tawe], built by James Griffiths ' and some other Quakers' in 1720. Griffiths & Co c1728 bought a half share in an Irish copper mine at Ballymurtagh,Wicklow  to secure a new source of copper ore. But by 1764 it seems to have become a 'stone ware manufactory'.
  • White Rock Copper Works in 1720, built by Percival of Bristol.
  • Forest, pre 1747, built by Morris Lockwood & Co
  • Middle Bank, in 1755, by Alderman Chansey Townsend of London
  • Upper Bank, in 1777, previously a lead works
  • Birmingham, in 1791, by Birmingham Mining and Copper Co
  • Rose, in 1795, by a Birmingham Company
  • There was also the Taibach Copper works in Port Talbot, built 1727, by 'The Governor and Company of the Copper Mines in England'[ who also rented the Melincrythan Works in 1720]
  • Penclawdd Copper Works, pre 1798, which brought the Vivian family to South Wales

These smelters came to Swansea and Neath from Cornwall, Bristol, London, Shropshire, the Midlands and other older established smelting areas. A great debt is owed to such men as Sir Humphrey Mackworth, Robert Morris of Shropshire, Dr Lane and Percival of Bristol, Alderman Chansey Townsend of London, the Vivians of Cornwall, and the various Quaker families that came to the Swansea area.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  Gareth 9 Dec 2000 G]

Towards the end of the C18 the Welsh process of copper smelting in reverberatory furnaces of two kinds--calciners and melting furnaces-- had been evolved. It consisted of at least six operations, generally more, towards the extraction by the joint agency of air and heat of copper from cupriferous ores in a quartz gangue. The process is described in detail in the book.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  Gareth ]

Coal-mining and coal trade in the C18;

It was the coastal location and  supplies of easily mined suitable coal that attracted ore miners and smelters to the Swansea/Neath area.The general use of coal in the C18 supplanted the earlier use of charcoal as a fuel. 18 tons of coal were needed to smelt about 4 tons of rich copper ore to produce 1 ton of copper.

Coal for smelting and export was obtained locally, there were mines at Clyne, Cwmbwrla, Cwmbach, Penvilia and Trewyddfa west of the Tawe, and at Llansamlet and Kilvey to the east. Exploitation towards Mynyddbach, Waunarlwydd, and Loughor had taken place by 1728-30, probably much  earlier.

It was from the Cwmbach and Penvilia pits of Mr Popkin, the Trewyddfa [copper bank] pit of Mr Thomas Price, and the Trewyddfa [Treboeth] pit of Mr Mackworth that the earlier copper works on the west side of the river [Swansea, Landore, Forest] obtained their coal. Those on the eastern side were supplied by the Llansamlet  [South, Little, Middle, Pydew and Keven]  and Kilvey pits.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  10 Dec 2000G Gareth ]

Conflict between coal-owners and ore-smelters frequently took place forcing the latter to develop their own mines, such as, for example, Morris, Lockwood & Co at Landore, where they took over Mr Mackworth's colliery at Trewyddfa in 1728 [ Mackworth retaining half profits].

In addition to opening new pits, vast improvements took place in facilitating deeper mining and haulage underground.  The heavy consumption of coal by the copper smelters is indicated by the monthly payment of about £111 by Morris, Lockwood & Co in 1728 to the two coal proprietors, Popkin & Mackworth.

At the Pentre Pit, Landore in 1788 there were 240 tons of cast iron tram plates underground and before the close of the C18 a Boulton and Watt steam-engine had been installed at a cost of £5000, which was described in the following terms in 1802;

"This machine throws up from a vast depth 100 gallons of water each stroke, which is repeated twelve times a minute, making 78,000 galls of water per hour."

Vertical shafts linked up the several adits or levels, and along the tramways low wagons, each of a chaldron capacity, brought the coal to the surface. An iron tramway, with horse drawn wagons, linked the colliery with the quay at Landore.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  

Foreign shipments of coal continued throughout the C18. Boats took in cargoes upstream, alongside the quay at Landore[ Trewyddfa collieries], at White Rock and Middle Banks [Llansamlet collieries], and along the several corporation banks downstream.

The port books of the Swansea area giving coastal shipments are not extant but these entries from other British ports which maintained reciprocal trade with Swansea, Neath and Llanelly are indicative of an expanding trade;

Bridgewater imported during the 12 months to June 1731, 3,889 tons of coal and culm from Neath, 1472 tons from Swansea, and 141 tons from Llanelly.

At Exeter, south Wales coal entered into competition with Newcastle and Sunderland coal but managed to get a fair proportion of the market, and at the close of the century Neath sent 1584 tons and Swansea 1100 tons into the port of Exeter in the first 6 months of 1800 ; compared with only 205 tons from Swansea and 624 tons from Llanelly in the 12 months to June 1734.

In this century[C18], the inter-trade of Swansea and Bristol became important, indeed in the year 1734/5 one in twelve of the coastal steamers leaving Bristol was bound for Swansea[40 out of 477 cargoes].

The extant port books [pre 1719] give full details of the shipment of cargoes to Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the continent from central south wales ports. Swansea's export of coal to south Irish ports increased from 2532 tons [66 cargoes] in 1709 to 7528 tons[208 cargoes] in 1719, but it was ships of  north Devon and Ireland which practically monopolised this coal trade from Swansea. The Breton and west coast ports of France also sent ships for Welsh coal, numbering 26 ships with total cargoes of 833 tons of coal in 1719.The coal market also  extended into Spain and Portugal during this decade and Swansea ships took an active interest.

Besides coal, the Swansea vessels also carried fair quantities of additional cargo, much of which was derived from the immediate hinterland of Swansea and Neath--grain from the arable area, woollen goods, herrings cured at the ports, and lead from the Neath smelting works.

The import trade of the two ports from foreign countries was quite small; normally from 3 to 6 ships per quarter brought inward cargoes liable to taxation.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  

One can envisage the rapid expansion of coal exportation following the improved navigation of the river and harbour by the statement that , in 1799, 139,486 chaldrons [each chaldron of 2000 lb] of bituminous and 13,319 chaldrons of stone coal were exported  as compared with an annual export of 12,000 chaldrons [chaldron of 28 cwt] during the first decade of the C18.

The growth of shipping, [only partly due to the coal trade for we must allow for copper, lead and iron and their ores] may be expressed in another way; in 1800, 2590 vessels of 154,264 total tonnage entered Swansea. In 1768, 690 vessels of 30,631 tons had entered the port.

Navigational problems were however beginning to become serious deterrents to the future development of the port unless constructively tackled by the Corporation who were undecided whether Swansea should develop as a tourist and health resort or a commercial and industrial port.

The first Harbour Act became law in 1791, titled "An Act for repairing, enlarging and preserving the Harbour of Swansea...".

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  

Canals in the C18

Until almost the end of the C18 the growth of industry in Swansea district was related mainly to the ease of maritime communications and transport, road transport playing only a minor part.

Associated with the rapid expansion of the smelting industry in the Llanelly-Swansea-Neath-Aberavon zone towards the close of the C18 is the linkage of the coastal towns with the interior by canal waterways as the demand for coal, lime and iron ore increased. The expanding industries could no longer be adequately supplied from the immediate hinterlands of the ports.

New collieries further inland were developed, quantities of limestone, fireclay, and iron ore from the northern rim of the coal basin supplemented the insufficient supplies of the south crop. Transport of heavy raw materials was much cheaper than either road or rail.

Although, in 1780, William Padley had proposed a canal from Swansea to Ynyscedwyn, it was from Neath that the first canal in the area was constructed. Indeed a navigable cut, dating from 1740-51, had linked Ynys-y-gerwn Rolling and Tin Mills to the old ironworks at Aberdulais. Then in 1790, the Crymlyn Canal of Edward Elton transported the rich bituminous coals of Glan-y-wern Colliery, on the eastern flank of Kilvey Hill across the marsh and bog to the wharves and quays at Trowman's Hole on the Neath River[ just over 3 miles].

A few years later a shorter canal [ just over a mile long] joined Raby's Iron Furnace to the river at Giant's Grave[Briton Ferry] and this formed part of the extension of the Vale of Neath Canal to Briton Ferry in 1798.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  

These earlier minor efforts were overshadowed by the Vale of Neath Canal which received royal assent in 1791 and construction started the same year. According to this Act the canal was to extend from the Brickfield, Neath to Abernant, Glyn-neath. The southern section between Neath and Briton Ferry was sanctioned by Parliament in 1798. The entire 13 miles length was finished in 1799.

Its purpose was dominantly industrial although passengers were carried on the barges. It served the works en route i.e Melincrythan, Aberdulais, Ynys-y-gerwn, and Melincwrt, but its repercussions were felt over a much wider area.

New collieries were opened in the valley and tramways brought more distant areas within reach of the canal head at Glyn-neath. The Penderyn Limestone Quarries had been linked by tram-road with the ironworks at Hirwaun since 1780; about 1808-10 this trackway was extended along an incline plain to the head of the Neath Canal. Competition soon resulted between the Neath Canal and the Aberdare branch of the Glamorganshire Canal from Cardiff which opened in 1811, and which served the Abernant-Aberdare ironworks and the collieries of the Cynon Valley.

This tram-road brought in one direction the finished wrought iron of the Hirwaun and Aberdare works, which was sent down the canal to Giant's Grave for export. In the reverse direction, the ironstone, scoured from the Penrhiw-Cwm Gwrelych area of the Upper Neath valley, was taken to Hirwaun and Aberdare.

Another tram-road, in 1806/7, linked the canal head at Glyn-neath with Dinas Rock, rich in limestone, fire and pottery clays, marble, iron, and lead ores. A year later estimates were required for the transport of 30,000 tons of limestone and 5,000 tons of fireclay along this tram-road. The success of the canal may be gauged by the fact that the £100 shares of the canal company were valued in 1845 at £345. In 1856/60 the annual quantity of coal brought by the canal to Giant's Grave for export in 80-200 ton vessels was 200,000 tons.

In 1812 a court case decreed that the working of iron-mines by scouring to be illegal, the practice was creating an accumulation of silt at the head waters of the canal, brought by the feeder of the Neath River.

The town of Neath feared that the southward extension to Giant's Grave at Briton Ferry would detract from its own prosperity. The 1798 Act therefore had a clause which prohibited the building of dwelling houses on the east side of the river on the lands of Lord Vernon ......  "........within half a mile of the termination of the Canal, and if so built shall be deemed to be a common nuisance and be persecuted as such."

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  

Similar controversies followed the proposal to build a canal along the Swansea Valley. Eventually, the canal bill passed in 1794 stipultaed that the canal was to be " from a certain place called the Brewery Bank with the Borough of Swansea to Hen Noyadd in the Parish of Ystradgynlais in the county of Brecon".

It was to be built beyond the reach of the floods of the Tawe River and 30ft wide and 5ft deep, narrower where impracticable. Barges of 20 tons, 70ft long by 7-7 1/2 ft wide were to navigate the waterway. The Duke of Beaufort was empowered to construct that part passing through his fee of Trewyddfa [between Nantfelin Brook and Nantrhydyvilast] and this section he contolled until 1872, the year the entire canal became the property of the Great Western Railway. The terminus of the canal , completed 1798, enabled the cargoes of the barges to be unloaded along the embankment, whence tramways ran down the slope to the wharves between the Pottery and Hafod Isha Copperworks and their loads were tipped direct into the holds of the vessels in the river.

There were branch canals at Clydach to Ynyspenllwch, at Pontardawe to Gilbertson's Works, and to the Primrose Colliery and Ynyscedwyn Tinplate Works. The main cargoes comprised coal, ironstone, limestone and castings.

The Swansea Canal's success can be gauged by the fact that the £11 shares of the company were priced at £250 in 1824.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  

Two other canals remain to be mentioned ;

Smith's Canal, from Foxhole to Llansamlet dates from 1790-1803 ; it followed the line of an old wagon-way and was designed to transport coal from the Llansamlet collieries to the shipping tips bordering the east side of the Tawe at Foxhole.

The purpose of the Tennant Canal , completed in 1824, was to link the port of Swansea with the Vale of Neath Canal. Its route from Port Tennant, St Thomas followed the lowland along the foot of Kilvey Hill, crossed the Crymlyn Marsh, and by a difficult feat of engineering, reached Neath Abbey, and surmounted the Neath River by an aqueduct to join the Neath Canal. The canal made Swansea the most important outlet of the rich Vale of Neath. Raw materials, particularly coal, castings and metals from the Neath valley and Neath Abbey districts were brought Swansea for export.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  

Evolution 1800+

The economic evolution of the Swansea region during the C19 and C20 will be analysed as follows;

  • Coal mining, 1800-1921 [extraction complete]
  • The Smelting Industries [extraction complete]
  • Port developments [not extracted]
  • Population changes [not extracted]

Coal-Mining, 1800-1921

The tremendous expansion in coal-mining activities must of course be correlated with the concomitant developments in matallurgical industries in the region, the new transport facilities, and the new requirements of  coal for domestic, factory and steam raising purposes, as well as the ever increasing demands from home and foreign markets for the coal of the South Wales Coalfield.

Within the half circle with its centre at Swansea and a radius of 15 miles, there were to be found the bituminous and highly incandescent coals of the Llynfi-Garw-Ogwr valleys, and , along the perimeter of the semi-circle from the Gwendraeth Valley to the Amman and upper Tawe and upper Neath valleys, the valuable and restricted supplies [as far as the coalfields of Great Britain are concerned] of anthracite.

The extraction of coal gave employment to thousands of workmen attracted to this  flourishing industrial area.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  

In 1815 , c108, 000 tons of coal and c114,000 tons of culm were shipped coastwise from Swansea, plus 38,000 tons of coal and 9,000 tons of culm which were exported, total c269,000 tons.

Nine years later , the total exported was much the same, more than 3000 vessels cleared the port annually with coal. The major coal market was the ports of Cornwall, the colliers returning with cargoes of copper ore and tin. There was also reciprocal trade with the Baltic ports and the New England ports of North America, from both these timber and ores were obtained.

It is possible to depict fairly accurately the extent of coal-mining in the region mid-way in the C19 from published statistics  contained in Hunt's Mineral Statistics of the UK. There were 41 anthracite collieries recorded in 1854, and 76 bituminous and free-burning collieries in the Swansea  region.

In the anthracite region the chief colliery proprietors at this date were;

  • J Strick [Twrch Valley]
  • Thomas Walters [Abercrave and Ystalyfera]
  • Charles Morgan [Amman Valley]
  • Penrose and Starbuck [Neath Valley]
  • Llewllyn & Sons [Onllwyn]
  • Petto & betts [Pontyclerc]
  • Watney & Co[Gwendraeth Valley]
  • The various ironworks all had their own collieries
    • Ystalyfera
    • Ynysgeinon
    • Ynyscedwyn
    • Cwmamman

Coal-owners in the coastal belt included;

  • Richard & Glassbrook
  • W F Brown
  • Major Phillips
  • Struve
  • Gregor
  • Smith
  • Swansea area
    • Padley & Williams
  • Neath area
    • Penrose
    • Parsons
    • Lyons
  • Llanelly area
    • Sims
    • Willyams
    • Nevill & Co
    • J Stanley & Co
    • Wm Clement & Co
    • Loder & Arthur
    • Llangennech Coal Co
  • Mason & Elkington at Pembrey
  • Starling Benson at Penclawdd
  • Neath Abbey Coal Co at Bryncoch and Neath Abbey
  • Governor & Company of Copper Mines at Cwmavon and Bryn
  • Vivian & Sons at Margam

The association of copper-smelting and coal-mining is most marked in the above list of names.

The mines in the neighbourhood of Swansea were owned as follows;

  • Swansea Coal Company ; Cwm, Mynydd Newydd , Pentrefelin, and Tyrcenol
  • Richard & Glassbrook ; Weeg, Gorse, and Landore
  • Davey & Pegg ; Birchgrove
  • Jones & Davis ; Clase
  • C H Smith ; Llansamlet
  • Major C Phillips ; Millwood
  • Padley & Williams ; Gorwydd
  • W P Struve ; Mynydd-bach-y-glo
  • D H Rees ; Townhill
  • William Jones ; Trewyddfa
  • William Gregor ; Tregwyn
  • Gregor & Co ; Weegfach

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  

An approximate assessment for the production of anthracite in 1854 is 750,000 tons, and bituminous c 3 million tons. Of this output c 900,000 tons was shipped coastwise and foreign from the ports of Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot, Porthcawl, and Llanelly.

The Great Western Railway carried 5350 tons of Llanegennech coal and 12,951 of anthracite to London  from the Swansea district , out of a total of 84,592 tons of Welsh coal brought by rail to the capital.

Coastwise shipping took to the Thames ; 3151 tons of anthracite, 7318 tons of Birchgrove Graigola, 4927 tons Resolven, 3079 tons Llangenenech, 1467 tons Nevill's Llanelly steam and 1326 tons Neath Abbey coal[out of a total of 86,144 tons of Welsh coal sent coastwise to London in 1854].

Swansea more than doubled its exports of coal over the next 2 years, exporting to foreign destinations in 1856 a total of  184,967 tons compared with 88,410 tons in 1854.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  

Here are figures for coal production figures within the area  in 1865;

  • Llanelly ; part used at Copper and Iron Works and shipped at Llanelly and Pembrey--463,123 tons
  • Neath ; part used at Copper and Iron Works and shipped at Neath, Briton Ferry and Swansea--641,179 tons
  • Swansea ; part used at Copper and Iron Works and shipped at Briton Ferry and Swansea--671,862 tons
  • Briton Ferry ; part used at Copper and Iron Works  and shipped at Briton Ferry and Swansea--115,000 tons
  • Bridgend ; a little shipped at Port Talbot; remainder for Iron Works--997,711 tons

The output of the anthracite field[excluding Pembrokeshire] was given as 363,475 tons, two thirds of which was exported.

It is interesting to note the importance of rail transport in coal distribution , the Swansea Vale Railway carried 375,477 tons, Vale of Neath Railway 384,876  tons for export and 316,076  tons inland, the Llanelly Railway 478,131 tons [of which 186,900 was exported].

Exploitation of coal reserves continued unabated throughout the C19. The actual production figures for the region we have called Swansea District are unavailable but here are county based figures for anthracite alone which are indicative of the growth seen over the turn of the century ;


County         1895   190019051913








Glamorgan748,520909, 3201,186,3941,995,730


It is fairly obvious that the exploitation of the anthracite zone of the north crop  really began in the last quarter of the  C19. Output increased by 461% in the 30 years 1865-1895 and by 285% in the following 18 years to a total of 4.7million tons. Serious attempts to exploit the continental market were not made until c1883 when the total exported was 509 tons reaching 1,999,687 tons by 1907 of which 1,761,687 was shipped from the port of Swansea alone.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  

Unlike the bituminous fields of the coastal districts of central South Wales, the anthracite area has shown a steady increase since 1913 reaching 5.5 million tons by 1930.

In 1940 the Canadian market was an important one for Welsh anthracite taking about 1 million tons annually compared with only c 48,000 in 1913.

Also in 1940 about two thirds of anthracite production is exported,  to Europe, Argentina and USA[with the greater part through Swansea]

The continued importance of Port Talbot as a coal exporting port is due to the fact that , in place of steam and bituminous coals of the Afan-Ogwr-Llynfi valleys, it has substituted the anthracite of the upper Neath.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.  

The use of anthracite is somewhat restricted; it is a coal that burns with tremendous heat, does not coke, and requires a powerful blast of air for combustion.  The difference between the anthracite region of the north crop and the good coking coals along the eastern section of the north crop from Hirwaun and Aberdare to Merthyr Tydfil, Rhymney, Tredegar, Ebbw Vale, Blaina, and Pontypool is well shown in the contrasting economic developments of the two areas during the C19.

In the eastern zone, a prosperous iron-smelting industry arose, whereas in the west, iron-smelting based upon the use of anthracite never really reached large dimensions.

The iron industry of Ystalyfera, Ynyscedwyn and Cwmamman was based upon charcoal or neighbouring bituminous coals.The introduction of the "Hot blast", first utilised in the upper Tawe Valley about 1838, did allow the use of anthracite in the smelting furnaces, but it was then too late as the district could not compete against the eastern ironworks and the coastal metallurgical centres arising at Llanelly, Swansea, Briton Ferry and Port Talbot.

It is clear that the prosperity of the northern section of the Swansea area depends upon the maintenance of overseas markets, and therein lies the grave danger of the dependence of a large area/population on one solitary and highly fluctuating industry.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.

The article has two maps  for 1906 and 1914 which bring out the pre WW1 importance of coal-mining within the Swansea district.

Three clearly defined zones of exploitation and production are evident, namely;

  • 1.The anthracite belt of the north, separated by the hilly, somewhat barren, Pennant sandstone country of the centre from;
  • 2.The coastal, bituminous region of the Llanelly syncline and of the south crop from Penclawdd to Killay and Clyne Valley ; and
  • 3.The steam and house coal districts of Afan, Llynfi, Garw, and Ogwr Valleys and of the south crop between Margam, Pyle and Aberkenfig.

During the first decade of the C20 all three zones were in the hey day of their mining prosperity. New and larger pits were being opened.

The anthracite area exported most of its coal to the Continent and the Americas.

The coastal region produced for its own matallurgical, factory, and domestic needs.

The south east region[Region 3] participated in the , then,  seemingly insatiable demand for Welsh steam coal in foreign markets, on railways at home and abroad, and , above all, as bunker coals in the merchant and naval fleets of the World.

The changes of the post-WW1 era were, at the time, forseen by few ; the age of oil--the diesel engine and the petrol driven car--was in its infancy, and a political world dominated by economic nationalism and self-sufficiency in place of World free trade had not been envisaged.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.

The Smelting Industries


The beginnings of the copper industry in the Swansea district have already been outlined. The factors favourable to its location included;

  • the ease of importation of ores from the mines of Cornwall
  • the availability of abundant and suitable supplies of coal for smelting.

The financial benefits arising were fully recognised by local  landlords who retained their mineral rights when selling any property. For instance, the lease of the Middle Bank granted to Chansey Townsend in 1755 by the Hon. Louis Barbara Mansell for the establishment of a works for the smelting and refining of copper contained a clause to the effect that the said copper works........

"....shall burn and use such coals as shall be raised under the lands of the said Louisa Barbara Mansell only, and no other coals, so long as such coals can be raised from the said Louisa Mansell's lands, in the parish of Llansamlet..."

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.

The accessibility of fuel undoubtedly contributed to the building of most of the copper works in the coastal belt between Pembrey and Margam during the C19, it partly explains the siting of works along canals and waterways , for example, the following where coal could easily be conveyed and discharged at the works;

  • Neath Canal [Crown copperworks at Giant's Grave]
  • Tennant Canal [Red Jacket and Briton Ferry copper works]
  • Smith Canal [ Upper and Middle Bank, White Rock etc]
  • Swansea Canal and Tawe River [Hafod, Morfa, Landore, Rose, Birmingham, Forest copper works]

Many works were located virtually alongside the coal-pits, for example

  • Neath Abbey[ the earlier works and the Cheadle Copperworks]
  • Margam
  • Penclawdd
  • Loughor[Spitty]
  • Llanelly
  • Pembrey

The miners and producers of ores believed that the smelters were making vast profits at their expense which may   explain the frequent participation of ore producers in the erection of copper works in this area, we find the following examples of this;

  • The Vivians, from Cornwall, entering the smelting trade at Penclawdd and at the Hafod
  • Thomas Williams MP, and son Owen, from Anglesey, at Upper Bank
  • Charles Lambert, an extensive mine owner in Chile, at Port Tennant[1852]
  • Messrs Roe & Co, importers of Irish Wicklow ores, at Neath Abbey
  • The Cape Copper Company from South Africa, at Briton Ferry

Then there were, at different times, copper manufacturing firms from;

  • Bristol [ Messrs Daniel or John Freeman], at White Rock
  • Birmingham, at the Rose and Birmingham copper works
  • Swansea, at the Crown Copperworks,Giants's Grave and at Pembrey Copperworks[Messrs Mason & Elkington]
  • Firms from Liverpool at Roe and Cheadle works, Neath Abbey
  • Firms from London, at Middle Bank etc.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.

The article has a map showing the location of the various copper works during the C19, their distribution falls into four major groups;

  • A. The Burry estuary
    • Penclawdd Copperworks, pre 1797
    • Llanelly Copperworks, 1805. Messrs Daniel, Nevill & Co., and Sims, Willyams, Nevill & Co
    • Spitty, 1809. Bought by Williams and Vivians in 1858 and dismantled
    • Cambrian, Llanelly, 1830. Messrs Mary Glascott & Sons, English Copper Company. Works did not prosper and were taken over by Messrs Nevill & Co, and converted by them to lead and silver refining in 1847.
    • Pembrey, 1846-7. Mason & Elkington of Birmingham and London
  • B. The Neath River
    • Mines Royal Works, Neath Abbey. Working until 1860, if not later than this.
    • Roe & Co. [1793-1809], later Cheadle Copperworks[1809-21], at Neath Abbey. Dismantled and parts sold to Messrs Vivians, 1821.
    • Crown, c 1797, Giant's Grave. Birmingham firm. Made copper ore purchases in 1856 and still producing copper c 1870[?]. Part of these works converted into a spelter-works in 1866-7 [Laxey Neath Co].
    • Red Jacket, Jersey Marine, 1849. Messrs Bankart & Sons. Firm purchasing copper ore in 1870
    • Briton Ferry, 1853. Sweetland, Tuttle & Co. Sold later to Cape Copper Mining Company[in the 1870s]
  • C. Port Talbot and Afan Valley
    • Taibach, 1727. Owned by the English Copper Company early in the C19 and sold to Messrs Vivians c 1839.
    • Cwmavon, 1837. Messrs Vigors & Co. Acquired by Governor and Company of Copper Miners in England in 1840. Transferred and new works built at Port talbot-Rio Tinto[1906].
  • D. Swansea
    • White Rock, 1720. Passed into ownership of the Bristol firm, Messrs Daniel or John Freeman Copper Company.Purchased by Williams and Vivians, and the Vivians later concerted part of the works into a silver-lead works.
    • Forest, pre 1747. Messrs Morris, Lockwood & Co, who transferred their Llangyfelach Works at Landore to Morriston. Passed through different ownerships [e.g owned by Messrs Harford & Co in 1811] and ceased production in 1845 when they came into the ownership of English Copper Company. Absorbed later into the Morriston Spelter-works of Messrs Vivians.
    • Middle Bank, 1755. Alderman Chansey Townsend of London
    • Upper Bank, 1777. Previous to this date a lead works. Late in the C18 owned by Thomas Williams, MP, Anglesey; 1803, in joint ownership of his son Owen Williams and Pascoe Grenfell. In 1825-6 this works and the adjoining Middle Bank works were in the single ownership of the Grenfell family. It was in the Grenfell works that George F Muntz, MP, for  Birmingham, carried out his important invention of yellow metal[ or Muntz metal], used in the manufacture of brass sheathing, bolts, ships' brass etc. Best yellow metal was an alloy of 60 parts best selected copper and 40 parts zinc.
    • Birmingham, 1791. Birmingham Mining & Copper Co. Purchased by Williams and Vivians and ultimately owned entirely by the latter and became a spelter works.
    • Rose, 1795. Birmingham firm. In 1820s were owned by Grenfell, Williams & Fox; later, firm became Williams, Foster & Co., whose first introduction into copper smelting occurred at the Rose works.
    • Landore, pre 1811. In 1811 owned by the British Copper Company [a title used by Messrs Williams, Foster & Co in 1869]; 1825-6, owned by Messrs Henry Bath and RJ Nevill [ Henry Bath & Co] and later, post 1834, purchased by Messrs Williams, Foster & Co.
    • Hafod, 1810. Messrs Richard Hussey and John Henry Vivian, sons of John Vivian of Truro, who first entered the copper smelting industry at Penclawdd Copperworks. J H Vivian had been trained in the mining schools of Germany, and to these works, throughout their existence, came many brilliant German chemists. The works were possibly the most up to date and largest undertaking of their time ; the furnaces and methods of smelting and working were continually being improved. It was at these works that the first serious and practical efforts [ in which Sir Humphrey Davy took a keen personal interest] were made to abate the sulphur nuisance and to diminish its deleterious effects upon the landscape and agriculture of the neighbourhood. At the Hafod Works, the Gerstenhofer furnaces, which converted the sulphur 'smoke' into sulphuric acid, were installed, replacing all but four of the thirty five old calciner furnaces. The magnitude of these works, with their adjoining alkali and phosphate plants in the same ownership, may easily be imagined.
    • Nant-rhyd-y-vilais, Landore, 1814. Founded by Messrs Bevan, of Morriston, to extract copper and iron from the slag of the pre-existing works. The company failed, for it was found that the iron obtained by the re-smelting would not weld. Efforts of other companies to obtain metal from the incompletely smelted slag of the older works have met with a similar unsuccessful result.
    • Morfa, 1834, of Messrs Williams, Foster & Co, adjoining the Hafod Works of Messrs Vivians. A silver works was added in 1840, and the Company also absorbed the Old Landore Copperworks. Messrs Williams [John, Michael, and William] were merchants from Cornwall.  Other Cornish gentlemen-Rodd, Stephens, and Harry-were original partners in the firm, as well as a Devon gentleman, John Sampson, of Plymouth.The Fosters came from Middlesex.
    • Port Tennant, 1852. Built by Charles Lambert, who had important interests in Chilean mines and smelting works. Works destroyed when the east side docks were constructed.
    • Black Vale, 1852, at Cwmbwrla, owned by James Stephens. A small works for the reduction of copper dross and old metal, to which were added later some furnaces for the smelting of copper ores.
    • Danygraig, 1860. Primarily a works for the extraction of arsenic and sulphur. Ores rich in arsenic and sulphur were smelted and copper was a secondary consideration. Built by Mr Jennings, who transferred from the Clyne Wood Arsenic and Chemical Works. Later owned and managed by Hadland, who purchased the works when its sale to Messrs Williams, Foster & Co was cancelled.
    • Little Landore Copperworks, 1862, owned by the Landore Arsenic and Copper Company and adjacent to the much larger and more famous Landore works of Messrs Williams, Foster & Co.
    • Llansamlet, 186-7. Alongside the Smith Canal and smelted ores rich in arsenic and sulphur, with copper as a secondary product only. Built by Jennings of Clyne and Danygraig works.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.

The growth of Swansea as a metallurgical centre was founded on copper. The multiplicity of smelting industries of various kinds--lead, silver, zinc, tin, gold, arsenic, sulphur etc- is a natural outcome from the basic smelting of copper ores.

Although individual and independent works continued to be built throughout the C19 , it is apparent from the above summary that the larger units tended to buy out, or absorb, the smaller undertakings, and indeed the policy of amalgamation ultimately combined the two powerful firms of Messrs Williams, Foster & Co and Messrs Vivians.

Not only did Swansea become the centre of the actual smelting operations but it also attracted a large proportion of the commercial transactions relating to the buying and selling of the ores. Copper ores were sold at the Cornish and Swansea Ticketings and by private sales. The article has figures for these sales which illustrate the tremendous importance of copper in the industrial prosperity of the Swansea District during the C19.

At the middle of the century practically all Cornish Ticketings were bought by the Swansea smelters and imported coastwise to Swansea and Llanelly. At this period, Cornwall was still the major World producer of copper ores.

In 1865, at the Swansea Ticketings, in addition to Irish ores, the chief foreign ores came from the West Indies, the Cobre and other Cuba mines, and from the Cape of South Africa. In time increased private sales made the Swansea Ticketings unnecessary.

Apart from Cornwall and Devon as. the major source of supply, other areas within the British Isles which sent their ores in fair quantities to the Swansea District for smelting were;

  • Angelsey [ Parys Mountain near Amwlch]
  • Caernarvon [Abersoch and Llandudno]
  • Cardiganshire[ Taliesin, Talybont and Gogigan ]
  • Berehaven [Co. Cork]
  • Knockmahon [Co. Waterford]
  • Ballymurtagh [Co. Wicklow]
  • Holyford [Co. Tipperary]

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.

The most prosperous period of the copper industry in the Swansea District lasted until about 1880-90, and then the decadence of the industry really set in. In 1880, Swansea smelted more than two thirds of the copper ores imported into the British Isles from abroad, from that date Swansea's predominance declined.  

The actual stamping and manufacturing was allowed to gravitate towards Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and London, the centres of machinery construction for marine engineering, armaments, textiles, factory, dyeing, printing, and electrical ware.  These large towns imported their copper in bars and pigs direct from the producing fields and established their own rolling and sheet works for their manufacturing requirements.

The very monopoly held by Swansea smelters worked against them, their attempts to maintain low prices for the raw material led the mine owners to decide to do their own smelting at or near the mines, exporting metal instead of ore. So, with the disappearance of actual smelting and refining, the copper trade in the Swansea District became restricted to two or three works in which sheet and wire production took the place of smelting and in which brass and yellow metal continued to be manufactured. several works were closed down, others combined, and ssme converted to smelting of other metallic ores.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.

Non-Ferrous Industries other than copper

I will extract  pertinent comments/facts  under this heading as they relate to particular sites;

Melincrythan Works

  • Owned by Sir Humphrey Mackworth, the smelting of lead ores was probably far more important here than copper in c 1700. Cardiganshire ores were smelted for lead, silver, litharge, and red lead.

Neath Abbey

  • The Mines Royal Company works here are described as zinc smelters in 1870 although they ceased smelting operations here before the year end.


  • Tin smelting was carried on at the Midlands and Bower St Works, Neath of T S Sutton & Sons, c 1900


  • Tin smelting was carried on at the Pontycoron Works, Skewen  of T S Sutton & Sons, c 1900

Cambrian Copper Works, Llanelly

  • Was converted into a lead and silver works by Nevill & Co in 1847.
  • Still operational in 1890 under Nevill, Druce & Co


  • Messrs Stock & Co were lead smelters here in 1870.


  • The Burry Port Smelting Company were treating lead ores here in the 1870s.
  • Messrs Elliotts attempted to revive the lead smelting industry here c1905 but it only lasted a few years.

Landore-Llangyfelach Works

  • In the early C18 smelted both copper and lead ores.

Landore Works of Dr Lane of Bristol

  • Attempts at zinc smelting appear to have been made here between 1717 and 1726.

Landore works of Messrs Dillwyn Richards

  • Spelter manufacture flourished here before it became the Siemens Steelworks in 1867.

Landore, Cuba Rd Works

  • New spelter works built here 1870-1913 by John Down & Co

White Rock Works, Swansea

  • In 1890, Messrs Vivian were using these works for lead extraction

Black Vale Works[Cwmbwrla]

  • Owned by Messrs James Stephens, were smelting lead, as well as tin and copper, c 1900 and up to WW1.
  • Arsenic was a by product of the copper ores smelted here.
  • Tin smelting was carried out at the Black Vale works c 1900-WW1

Middle Bank

  • Swansea's first spelter works in 1777, managed by Mr Brazel.

Upper Bank Works

  • Was a lead smelting works before becoming a copperworks in 1777.

Upper Bank

  • In the smelting of zinc ores, suitable refractory material and good fire clays are required for the making of the retorts in which the reduction and distillation of the ores are effected.  Catherall, a Flintshire gentleman, who became the owner of the Upper Bank works, manufactured fire-bricks at the works in addition to spelter.

Upper Bank works of Grenfell & Sons

  • In the 1860s converted from copper to spelter

Old Forest, Morriston, Messrs Vivian

  • In the 1860s converted from copper to spelter

Port Tennant

  • Swansea Zinc Company built new spelter works here in 1869.
  • The Crown Works here, [ successively owned by Messrs Shackleford & Ford, Messrs Richardson & Co, and the English Crown Spelter Co Ltd], saw a new spelter works  built between 1870-1913.
  • William Bevan manufactured arsenic at Port Tennant from 1895 until WW1 at least.

Llansamlet district

  • New spelter works built between 1870-1913, the Villiers Spelter Works; and also the Swansea Vale .
  • In 1940, the modern methods of smelting zinc employed at the reorganised Swansea Vale works supplied all the local needs , and all the other spelter works still operating in 1913 have since closed down.

Llansamlet Smelting Works[Six Pits Junction]

  • In 1890 being used for treating lead ores

Clyne Wood Chemical Works

  • Arsenic was manufactured here in the early C19, also and naptha wasextracted from timber

Danygraig Copperworks

  • The arsenic industry continued here and ores rich in arsenic and sulphur were smelted. Messrs Hadland were described as arsenic refiners in 1890, Hadland had become the owner of the Danygraig Works and transferred them to Landore.


  • Three miles from the heart of Swansea is the village of Clydach where, in 1940, was the largest Nickel Works in the World, the Mond Nickel Co Ltd. This was built in 1902 to put into operation the process evolved by Dr Ludwig Mond FRS and Dr Carl Langer in 1889, and which has been perfected at Clydach. It was only the refining process carried out in Clydach, the actual smelting of the ores was done at the mines in Ontario, Canada. Mond chose this location because of the traditional smelting skills in the area, anthracite fuel availability, abundant water, low transport costs swansea/Canada, the local supply of sulphuric acid, and finally the proximity to British and European markets by rail and sea. 

General comments/data

  • In 1913 a list of of lead smelting establishments in the Swansea District gave three works only ; James Stephens ; Vivians at White Rock; and John R Down & Co at Cuba Rd, Swansea[site of former Landore Steelworks]
  • At its peak in 1890, Swansea [port]imported 11,400 tons of lead ores plus 2149 tons of sheet and pig lead, but only 5921 tons by 1913. In 1890, Algeiria and Chile were significant sources.
  • At Llanelly[port], 6001 tons of lead ore were discharged in 1870, but only 604 tons in 1890.
  • Spelter, or zinc, featured far more prominently in the district than lead, at least after the coppper declined.
  • There seems to have been a continuous prosperity in the zinc trade right up to WW1 when there were seven zinc smelting works in active production. The location of four of the smelting works along side the old Smith Canal is instructive as it was from this canal that the necessary supply of water to the works was first obtained ; and a similar type of location applies to the other three works.
  • In the spelter works of the C18/19 there were technical difficulties in preventing the formation of sulphates in place of oxides and skilled and experienced workmen were needed whose skill was almost hereditary.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.

Iron[ including Steel and Tinplate]

After a general introduction I will extract  pertinent comments/facts  under this heading as they relate to particular sites;

The Swansea area did not possess advantages in mineral reserves, fuel supplies, and transport facilities superior to those in the eastern part of the coalfield and the latter established both its iron and tinplate industries earlier than the west.

There are three main aspects to the historical sequence, namely;

  • The production of charcoal and coke iron
  • The production of steel by the Siemens-Martin process, using pig-iron and scrap in the furnaces, and
  • The production of tin-plates together with terneplates and galvanised sheets by coating rolled iron and steel sheets, or backplates, with tin, or zinc, respectively

Iron, as distinct from steel, formed the basis of the tinplate sheet in West Wales until 1880-90, and in some works, until the close of the century.

Three stages  in the manufacture of the iron-bar in operation in the iron works of west Wales during the C18 can be distinguished ;

  • The actual smelting of the iron ore in the blast furnace, to produce pig-iron
  • The conversion of this pig-iron in a "finery" furnace into malleable wrought iron, and in a "chafery", or reheating furnace, into a long rod by hammering under a tilt hammer in the forge
  • The rolling of the malleable rod of iron in a mill into plates and sheets suitable for tinning and coating.

Most frequently they were carried out in distinct and separate works, the products being taken from one to the other in the process of manufacture.

The two main requisites, besides  labour and capital, were iron ore and fuel. 

  • Along the north of the coal basin outcropped thin bands and nodules of iron ore in fair quantities, whilst elsewhere in the coalfield similar deposits of iron ore  were found, especially in the lower coal measures.
  • Charcoal was used throughout the manufacturing process. It was used in the hearth of the blast furnace together with iron-ore and limestone; in the remelting in the finery the blast of air operated upon the heated charcoal; it was used also in the chafery to give the required welding heat in the repeated hammerings.
  • Another important need was a flow of water to drive the wheels that worked the bellows supplying the air draught to the various furnaces.

So, blast furnaces were located nearer the supply of ores and timber for charcoal and forges and rolling mills along river valleys where water power, charcoal, and , if necessary, imported pig-iron could more easily be obtained. Actually , in west Wales, blast furnaces were few and smelting  of iron-ore never reached the dimensions characteristic of the ore areas and bituminous coalfields of the eastern region.

The development  in second half  of the C18 of the use of coke instead of charcoal in blast furnace smelting had the effect of iron smelting migrating to suitable coalfields , such as the iron fields of the north and eastern rims of the South Wales Coalfields, where excellent coking coals were in situ. The prosperity of Aberdare, Merthyr Tydfil, Ebbw Vale and Blaenavon etc dates from the 1760-1800 period. Similar developments did not occur in the west , where the anthracite coals of the north crop were not suitable for coking and indeed such coals were only to be found in the south crop in Gower and east of Port Talbot.

Thus the Swansea District lagged behind the eastern districts of South Wales in iron smelting. The advancement in tinplate production  during the 100 years 1750-1850 took place east of Port Talbot. Indeed the forges and rolling mills of the west had to import increasing supplies of pig-iron from outside to supplement the totally inadequate supplies of the local blast furnaces and to satisfy the demands for suitable iron bars made by the tin plate works of the locality.

The west was saved from total eclipse in the ferrous metal industry by three important factors;

  • Firstly, the introduction of the puddling-furnace[Henry Cort & Peter Onions] in the early C19 which allowed the substitution of bituminous coal for charcoal.
  • Secondly, the successful experiments at Ynyscedwyn and Ystalyfera Ironworks [1836-8] in the efficacy of the "hot-blast" -pre heated air- passing into the blast furnace in which the mixture of anthracite coal and coke replaced charcoal in the smelting furnace. Attributed to Crane of Ynyscedwyn and J P Budd and Thomas of Ystalyfera.
  • Thirdly, there took place at Landore Steelworks the first successful commercial manufacture of steel in the Siemens open-hearth furnace [1868-75]. The Bessemer Converter [1856] for making steel bars never found favour in West Wales.


The next section consists of groups of  types of works to which any relevant data from the text has been added ;
See also the chronological list of works in Appendix A .


Around 1720, there were just five blast furnaces in South Wales, three of these were probably at ;

  • Ynyscedwyn, near Ystradgynlais, in the upper Tawe Valley.
    • Roger Thomas of Cwmtwrch wrote in 1857 ," the best iron ore is obtained in Mynydd Bach and Gelly......brought to the works on horse back....at first only wood[charcoal] was used for smelting...obtained from from any place...such as Trecastle, Llandovery, Llandilo....all on horseback....before Mr Parsons built his new forge at Clydach the pig iron of Ynyscedwyn was sent 6 mls across the Black Mountains to the forge at Llandyfan but this costly transport has ceased for  at least 70 years[i.e since 1787].
    • Might have been still working intermittently in 1800.
  • Neath Abbey[with Bryncoch furnace]. Two blast furnaces still working here in 1800.
  • Kidwelly, CMN. Might have been still working intermittently in 1800.

Twenty years later, [c 1740] a blast furnace  had appeared at

  • Melincwrt, opposite Abergarwed, remained in blast until 1808.
    • Described by Rev Richard Warner in his Second Walk through Wales 1798 as ,"another large works of Mr Miers's, consisting of a blast furnace, a finery, and a foundry ; the whole apparatus of which is upon an improved and stupendous plan".

There were forges during the C18 at ;

  • Neath Abbey. In 1854 there were 3 furnaces, only one in blast.In 1870 there were 2, none in blast.
  • Ynyspenllwch [ near Clydach], dating from the mid C17 and recorded again in 1753.
    • Had a rolling mill as well as tinplates, see below
  • Clydach Forge , 1785
  • Forest Landore, pre 1728
    • Described as "old and unprofitable" in 1728
  • Ynys-y-gerwn, 1753
  • Dulais New Forge, 1785
    • Dulais forge was producing tinplate bars from 1768
  • Aberavon

Rolling mills are mentioned at ;

  • Ynys-y-gerwn, from c 1768. see also tinplates below

There were engineering works and foundries at ;

  • Neath Abbey
  • Wern, Llanelli, 1784

A few tin-plate works were built in the western area during  the C18, such were ;

  • Kidwelly, CMN, 1719
  • Carmarthen, CMN , 1748
  • Ynyspenllwch, 1740-50
  • Ynys-y-gerwn, c 1768

These tin-plate works came into being within the anthracite zone ;

  • Ystalyfera, 1851
  • Amman, 1872
  • Pheonix, Cwmtwrch, 1879
  • Resolven, 1879?
  • Dynevor, Pantyffynnon, 1880
  • Gurnos, Cwmtwrch, 1880
  • Raven, Glanamman, 1881
  • Garnant, 1882
  • Aberlash, Tirydail, 1889
  • Glynbeudy, Brynamman, 1890
  • Ynyscedwyn, Ystradgynlais, 1905

Other works  of all types  randomly mentioned in text [see also Appendix A below] ;

  • Pontardawe.
    • A new tinplate works started here in 1835.
    • Gilbertsons's Works, Pontardawe. In 1880 it had 12 puddling furnaces and 6 rolling mills.
    • One of several ironworks that were renovated and became a steelworks, erecting Siemens-Martin open hearth furnaces
  • Ystalyfera Ironworks, 1838. Eleven furnaces built, variable number in blast 1854-1890, no record in 1895
    • In 1860 a contemporary description states that the Ystalyfera Forge and Tinworks[associated with the blast furnaces] obtained their supplies of bituminous coals by canal from Pontardawe ' and the blast furnaces cannot remain long without it in the shape of coke'.
    • Ystalyfera , between 1860-1880 was one of only two works in the anthracite belt with puddling furnaces and rolling mills
  • Ynyscedwyn and Ystalyfera Ironworks , see also general notes above.
    • With reference to Ynyscedwyn only ; seven furnaces built, variable number in blast 1854-1865, none in blast 1870, no record after that
  • Neath, Penrhiwtyn. Mentioned in 1798 by Rev Richard Warner in his Second Walk through Wales as " a blast furnace and foundry owned by Raby & Co but it was standing idle at the time of his visit[Aug 1798]. Elsewhere it is noted that "Alexander Raby attempted to establish ironworks at Neath and Llanelly during the period 1795-1810 but, in both efforts, he met with disaster".
  • Neath. Tinplate works started here in 1864 [ is this same place as melyn below ?]
  • Neath Steel, Sheet and Galvanising works. New works in 1896, embodying steel, sheet and tinplate.
  • Melyn Works, Melincrythan, Neath. Tinplate works started here in 1864
    • Possessed a charcoal forge which was dismantled in 1883 when two steel furnaces were added that year, these in turn being dismantled twenty years later.
  • Landore, see general notes above.
    • There might have been a blast furnace  working intermittently at Landore in 1800
    • Tinplate works started at Landore in 1851, closed down 1892.
    • The Siemens open-hearth furnace introduced here [1868-75] re-smelted pig-iron into steel suitable for the rolling of sheets which could be tinned in the tinworks and did away with the use of coke, coal and charcoal in the re-smelting. Gas, together with an air blast, provided the heat and flame in the open-hearth furnace.
    • The Landore Siemens Steel Works, 1874, situated at Landore, covered about 100 acres of land, on both sides of the navigable River Tawe.The Great Western and Swansea Vale[Midland] railways ran through the company's land, and a system of railways connected this to all parts of the works. In 1874 the works contained ; 2 blast furnaces with Cowper's patent stoves ; 24 Siemens regenerative steel smelting furnaces ; 6 steam hammers ; 2 rail mills ; tyre mill complete ; bar mill ; wire-mill, ; 33 Siemen's gas heated furnaces ; 100 coke ovens ; brickworks . Has a total of 64 steam engines on site. The company have purchased several coal properties in the immediate neighbourhood, comprising steam coal, coking coal and anthracite. When in full work the steel works employ over 2000 men, independent of colliers etc.
    • In 1880, Landore was one of only 3 works in the Swansea District turning out steel in open-hearth furnaces, with 24 furnaces.
    • The success of the Siemens-Martin process here led to a specialisation of steel production in the coastal sub-division and to the supremacy of West Wales in the manufacture of backplates, tinplates, terneplates and galvanised sheets.
    • Landore steelworks was closed down in 1888.
  • Millwood and Landore. Two furnaces built, variable number in blast 1854-1913, but no furnaces shown in the 1860-1880 statistics. Smelting  at Landore continued until c 1914.
  • Amman Ironworks at Brynamman, 1848. Three furnaces built, all in blast 1854-1870, variable 1880-1890, no record in 1895.
    • Probably needed bituminous coal as well as anthracite for smelting [1865-1890]
    • Between 1860-1880 was one of only two works in the anthracite belt with puddling furnaces and rolling mills
  • Banwen . Joined by tramway to Swansea Canal.
    • Two furnaces built, none in blast 1854-1870, no record after that.
    • When sold in 1850 were capable of producing 90 tons pig-iron a week
    • There were 2 blast furnaces but intermittant production and no record of it after 1880
  • Onllwyn Ironworks. Joined by tramway to Swansea Canal.Two furnaces built, variable number in blast 1854-1865, none in blast 1870, no record after that
    • Probably needed bituminous coal as well as anthracite for smelting[1855-60]
  • Abernant Ironworks, located at head of the Neath Valley. Three furnaces built, variable number in blast 1854-1860, none in blast 1865, no record after that
  • Trimsaron works, two blast furnaces built, not in blast 1855-60, no record after that
  • Aberdulais. A new tinplate works started here in 1830, it was in close proximity to blast furnaces and forges from which they could obtain their bars and sheets.
  • Abercrave, one furnace built, in blast 1854-1860, not in blast 1865 and no record after that
  • Glynneath, one furnace built but not in blast 1855, no further record after that
  • Port Talbot. Tinplate works started here in 1866
  • Avon Vale, Aberavon/Port Talbot. Tinplate works started here in 1866, closed down 1899
  • Taibach, Cwmavon. Known to be ironworks here as early as 1750
    • Coal for these works was conveyed on a wooden tramway from Cwmbychan, a little valley branching off from Cwmavon. Further supplies of both coal and iron-stone were brought on the backs of mules from Wernlaes Level, near Merthyr.
  • Cwmavon. Suitable coal existed here  and iron ore was found associated with some of the coal seams  worked in the C19.
    • A new blast furnace was built here in 1811, and although changing hands fairly frequently, continued smelting for several decades. Five furnaces built, variable number in blast 1854-1865, none in blast 1900, no record after that. These figures were combined with Oakwood [where there were 2 blast furnaces built] from 1865. Smelting ceased at Cwmavon in about 1895
    • A new tinplate works started in Cwmavon in 1825 , it was in close proximity to blast furnaces and forges from which they could obtain their bars and sheets.
    • In 1860, the Cwmavon & Oakwood works had 36 puddling furnaces and 3 rolling mills, in 1865 it had increased to  42 and 5.
    • In 1880, Cwmavon smelting works stood idle.
  • Baldwins, Margam.New steel works here in 1915, with blast furnaces , steel, rolling mills and coke ovens.
  • Margam.
    • A new tinplate works started here in 1822.
    • Margam Works of Robt. Byass & Co. In 1870 it possessed 6 rolling mills
    • In 1880, Margam smelting works stood idle.
  • Beaufort, Morriston. New tinplate works started here in1860
  • Dyffryn, Morriston.New works in 1874, embodying steel , sheet and tinplate.
  • Birchgrove, Llansamlet. New steel works here in 1880, closed down in 1895
  • Worcester Works, Morriston.Opened in 1868 in association with the Llansamlet Tinworks.
    • Here they transferred pig-iron in puddling furnaces and forges into bars, had no blast furnaces for smelting iron ore.
    • It is probable that the Worcester Works used puddled iron even in 1880-they had 10 puddling furnaces, 4 balling furnaces, and a steam hammer, plus 10 tinmills.
    • One of several ironworks that were renovated and became a steelworks, erecting Siemens-Martin open hearth furnaces
  • Upper Forest, Morriston,  tinplate works started in 1845, added its own puddling furnaces and balling furnaces.
    • One of several ironworks that were renovated and became a steelworks, erecting Siemens-Martin open hearth furnaces
  • Cwmbwrla Tinplate Works, Swansea . New tinplate works started here in 1863
    • New works in 1882, embodying steel , sheet and tinplate, built two open-hearth furnaces when they became the property of Messrs e Morewood & Co. Closed steel department in 1898?
  • Cwmfelin, Swansea. Tinplate works started here in 1858
    • Became a steel and tinplate works in 1905
  • Bryngwyn, Gorseinon. New steel works here in 1899, six sheet mills and galvanising plant added in 1908.
  • Pontardulias[Glynhir]. Tinplate and sheet works, started 1910.
  • Grovesend Steel. New works in 1900, embodying steel sheet and tinplate, in association with a tinworks erected in 1886.
  • Elba Steel, Gowerton, started 1878.
    • In 1880, this works was one of only 3 works in the Swansea District turning out steel in open-hearth furnaces, with 4 furnaces. No tinplate works.
  • Hendy. Tinplate works started here in 1866
    • An independent works which entered into working arrangements with Grovesend Steel in 1909
  • Gwendraeth Kidwelly Ironworks, CMN, rebuilt 1801. Three furnaces built, variable number in blast 1854-1860, none in blast 1865/1870, no record after that
  • Llangennech. Tinplate works started here in 1867, closed down 1908
  • St David's,Ysbitty Tinworks, started 1869.
    • An independent works which entered into working arrangements with Bynea Steel in 1912.
  • Bynea, Llanelly. New steel works built 1912, to supply bars for the neighbouring St David's Tinworks, and the more distant tinworks at Dafen and Pontardulias[Glynhir], and the galvanising works also at Dafen.
  • Morewood's Works, Llanelly
    • In 1880, this works was one of only 3 works in the Swansea District turning out steel in open-hearth furnaces, with 2 furnaces.
    • One of several ironworks that were renovated and became a steelworks, erecting Siemens-Martin open hearth furnaces. [South Wales Steel]
  • Llanelly. Elsewhere it is noted that "Alexander Raby attempted to establish ironworks at Neath and Llanelly during the period 1795-1810 but, in both efforts, he met with disaster".
  • Dafen Tinplate works , Llanelly, started in 1846, added its own puddling furnaces and balling furnaces.
  • Llanelly Steel. New works in 1898, embodying steel, sheet and tinplate, in close association with adjoining Old Castle Iron and Tinplate works and the Western Tinplate Works, Llanelly.
  • Old Lodge Ironworks, Llanelly.Started in 1852
    • These Llanelly works transferred pig-iron in their puddling furnaces and forges into bars, they had no blast furnaces for smelting iron ore.
  • Tregoning's Forge, Llanelly. Started in 1857
    • These Llanelly works transferred pig-iron in their puddling furnaces and forges into bars, they had no blast furnaces for smelting iron ore.
    • It is probable that Tregoning's used puddled iron even in 1880--they had 2 charcoal forges
    • One of several ironworks that were renovated and became a steelworks, erecting Siemens-Martin open hearth furnaces
    • Tregoning's Works, at Morfa, Llanelly. Tinplate works started at in 1851with 2 mills and a tinning plant
      • A charcoal forge was built in 1857 and another forge, with two additional tinplate mills, in 1872.
      • In 1885, 2 open-hearth furnaces were built but steel production ceased in 1895.
      • They became associated with the Bynea Steelworks in 1913 when 3 members of the Tregonning family joined the board of directors of the latter works
  • Marshfield Ironworks, Llanelly, for backplate. Started in 1863
    • These Llanelly works transferred pig-iron in their puddling furnaces and forges into bars, they had no blast furnaces for smelting iron ore.
  • Old Castle works, Llanelly, started in 1866.
    • These Llanelly works transferred pig-iron in their puddling furnaces and forges into bars, they had no blast furnaces for smelting iron ore.
    • It is probable that Old Castle works used puddled iron even in 1880 - at least until they erected steel furnaces in c 1885
    • One of several ironworks that were renovated and became a steelworks, erecting Siemens-Martin open hearth furnaces
    • Tinplate works started here in 1867
  • Briton Ferry.
    • In the 1840s blast furnaces were built here.Two furnaces built, variable number in blast 1856-1913, smelting continuing until c 1914.
    • In 1860, the Briton Ferry Ironworks had 27 puddling furnaces and 3 rolling mills, in 1865 it had increased to  40 and 3.
    • In 1880, Briton Ferry maintained 43 puddling furnaces and 4 rolling mills working.
    • One of several ironworks that were renovated and became a steelworks, erecting Siemens-Martin open hearth furnaces, had its own tinworks in situ.
  • Albion, Briton Ferry.New steel works here in 1893, acquired by Briton Ferry Steel Co Ltd in 1914.
  • Ferry. Tinplate works started here in 1860
    • An independent works which entered into working arrangements with Briton Ferry Steel in 1921

There is a section of the book which deals with the Maesteg-Bridgend area which is covered in more detail in Appendix A, see below.
This area is defined as consisting of the valleys of the Llynfi, Garw, Ogwr Fawr, and Ogwr Fach which unite at Tondu-Aberkenfig and cut through the Cefn Cribbwr-Cefn Hirgoed ridge in a narrow vale to Bridgend, and thence to the sea  in a silted estuary at Merthyr Mawr some three miles east of Porthcawl.

  • Cefn Cwsc Ironworks. Had none of its 2/3 blast furnaces in operation during 1854-6 and 1860.
  • Maesteg Ironworks Company. Formed in 1826 by William Jones, followed a year later by the construction of a tramway to link up Maesteg with its first port, Porthcawl.
    • Became the Cambrian Iron Company a few years later, but not until 1839 did iron smelting on a large scale start. It was associated with large scale coal exploitation.
    • The Maesteg furnaces were in full blast in 1855[3], 1856 [3] and 1860 [4].
    • The Maesteg blast furnaces produced pig-iron for their own puddling furnaces and rolling mills
  • Llynfi works. Had 4 blast furnaces , 2 of which were in blast in 1854, 3 in 1855/6 and 1860. After that date the statistics are for the combined Llynfi and Maesteg ironworks, 4 furnaces being in blast in 1865 and 1870, only 1 1/2 in 1880.
    • The combined Maesteg/Llynfi ironworks had 31 puddling furnaces, and 5 rolling mills in 1860 ; 53 and 7 in 1865 ; 36 and 4 in 1870 ; and 33 and 4 in 1880
    • They continued until 1880 and then gave way to the steelworks of the coastal belt.
  • Tondu works. Had its 2 furnaces in blast between 1855 and 1870 but only 1 in 1880 and 1890, and 1 in 1895. No furnaces shown in blast in 1900, 1905, 1913.
    • First owned by Sir Robert Price, but the Brogden family from Manchester acquired a controlling interest in c 1850/60
    • Their blast furnaces produced pig-iron for their own puddling furnaces and rolling mills.
    • In 1860 they had 15 puddling furnaces and 2 rolling mills ; 20 and 3 in 1865; 23 and 3 in 1870 and 1880
    • Continued for about 15 years after 1880, they possessed up to date coke ovens and were associated with engineering works[rails etc] and large collieries.
  • Pyle. Had 2 furnaces , 1 in blast in 1890, none in 1900
    • The attempt to re-establish iron smelting here and Cefn Cribbwr between 1890 and 1900 failed.
  • Cefn Cribbwr. One furnace in blast in 1900. See Pyle above.
  • Porthcawl Iron and Coal Company. Started in 1839.
    • Had 6 furnaces in blast at one time.
  • Llwydarth Tinplate works. Started in 1868 as the Garth Sheet Iron Company, closed in 1889.


Appendix A
 a chronological list of works under type groupings;

1. Iron and Steel Works

[based mainly on Brooks, Monograph on the Tinplate Works of Gt Britain and omitting Maesteg-Pyle region]

  • 1800-19
    • Cwmavon Blast Furnaces, 1810
  • 1830-9
    • Ystalyfera, 1838
  • 1840-9
    • Upper Forest, Morriston, 1845
    • Dafen-puddling and ball furnaces, and hammer, 1846
    • Brynamman, 1848
  • 1850-9
    • Old Lodge Ironworks, Llanelly, 1852
    • Tregoning's Forge, Llanelly - charcoal iron manufacture-1857
  • 1860-9
    • Marshfield Ironworks, Llanelly, 1863
    • Old Castle, Llanelly, 1866
    • Ynyspenllwch, Clydach, restarted 1867
    • Landore Siemens Steel, 1868
    • Worcester Ironworks, Morriston, 1868 -puddling furnaces - eight Siemens open-hearth furnaces erected in 1886 and new furnaces in 1924
  • 1870-9
    • South Wales Steel, Llanelly, 1872
    • Dyffryn Steel and Tinplate, Morriston, 1874 or 1880
    • Elba Steel, Gowerton, 1878
  • 1880-9
    • Birchgrove Steel. Llansamlet, 1880
    • Cwmbwrla Steel, Swansea, 1882
    • Melyn, Neath, 1883 - two steel furnaces
    • Tregoning's, Llanelly, 1885 - two steel furnaces
    • Briton Ferry Steel, 1889
  • 1890-9
    • Gilbertsons, Pontardawe, 1890
    • Albion, Briton Ferry, 1893
    • Neath Steel, 1896
    • Llanelly Steel, 1898
    • Bryngwyn Steel, Gorseinon, 1899
  • 1900-9
    • Grovesend Steel, 1900
  • 1910-19
    • Bynea Steel, 1912
    • Baldwins, Margam, 1915 - blast furnaces, steel, rolling mills, and coke ovens

2. Tinplate and Sheet Works

  • pre 1800
    • Kidwelly, 1719
    • Carmarthen, 1748
    • Ynyspenllwch, 1740-50
    • Ynys-y-gerwn, Aberdulais, 1753-72
  • 1820-9
    • Margam, 1822
    • Cwmavon, 1825
  • 1830-9
    • Aberdulais, 1830
    • Gilbertsons, Pontardawe - formerly Parsons- 1835
  • 1840-9
    • Upper Forest, Morriston, 1845
    • Dafen, Llanelly, 1846
  • 1850-9
    • Landore, 1851
    • Tregoning, Llanelly, 1851
    • Ystalyfera, 1851
    • Cwmfelin, Swansea, 1858
  • 1860-9
    • Briton Ferry, 1860
    • Beaufort, Morriston, 1860
    • Cwmbwrla, Swansea, 1863
    • Melyn, Neath, 1864
    • Hendy, 1866
    • Avon Vale, Port Talbot, 1866
    • Old Castle, Llanelly, 1867
    • Llangennech, 1867
    • Llwydarth, Maesteg, 1868
    • Worcester, Morriston, 1868
    • Ysbitty, Loughor, 1869
  • 1870-9
    • Morriston, 1872
    • South Wales, Llanelly, 1872
    • Glamorgan, Pontardulais, 1872
    • Penclawdd, 1872
    • Amman, 1872
    • Morlais, Llangennech, 1873
    • Players, Clydach, 1874
    • Cambria, Pontadulais, 1874
    • Dyffryn, Morriston, 1874
    • Burry, Llanelly, 1875
    • Clayton, Pontardulais, 1875
    • Boro, Aberavon, 1875
    • Cilfrew, 1878
    • Glanrhyd, Pontardawe, 1879
    • Midland, Morriston, 1879
    • Park, Clydach, 1879
    • Phoenix, Cwmtrwch, 1879
    • Resolven, 1879
    • Western, Llanelly, 1879
  • 1880-9
    • Aber, Llansamlet- formerly Foxhole, 1880
    • Ynysmeudwy, 1880
    • D R David & Son, Port Talbot, 1880
    • Dynevor, Pantyffynnon, 1880
    • Gurnos, Cwmtwrch, 1880
    • Old Lodge, Llanelly, 1880
    • Teilo, Pontardulais, 1880
    • Ffrwdwyllt, Port Talbot, 1881
    • Gorseinon, 1881
    • Raven, Glanamman, 1881
    • Amman, Garnant, 1882
    • Fairwood, Gowerton, 1886
    • Grovesend, 1886
    • Villiers, Briton Ferry, 1888
    • Aberlash, Tirydail, 1889
  • 1890-9
    • Ashburnham, Burry Port, 1890
    • Glynbeudy, Brynamman, 1890
    • Baglan Bay, Briton Ferry, 1891
    • Eagle, Neath, 1891
    • Cardonnel, Skewen, 1891
    • Wern, Briton Ferry - formerly Jersey, 1891
    • Gwynne & Co, Briton Ferry, 1892
    • Neath, 1896
    • Aberavon Tinplate and Stamping, 1899 ?
  • 1900-9
    • Ynyscedwyn, Ystradgynlais, 1905
    • Wellfield Galvanising, Llanelly, 1908
    • Bryngwyn Sheet and Galvanising, 1908
    • Whitford, Briton Ferry, sheet mills, 1909
    • King's Dock, Swansea, 1909
    • Worcester, Morriston, sheet and galvanising plant, 1909
  • 1910-19
    • Dulais, Pontardulais, 1910
    • Glynhir, Pontardulais, 1910
    • Mardy, Gorseinon, 1910
    • Pemberton, Llanelly, 1911
    • Gorse Galvanising, Dafen, Llanelly, 1911
  • 1920-9
    • Elba, Swansea, 1925
    • Vivians Sheet and Blackplate - old Margam copperworks, 1926
    • Llanelly Steel, new sheet and galvanising plant, 1928
    • Pencoed, Bynea, 1928

There is a  separate section in Appendix A covering ;

  • The Ironworks of the Maesteg-Pyle Sub-district ; and this  is essentially based on James Borrow "The Llynfi Valley Mineral District", Transactions South Wales Inst of Engineers, vol xiii, 1872-3  ; and T C Evans " History of Llangynwyd Parish, 1887

Works mentioned in text ;

  • Cefn Cribbwr Mineral property, near Pyle,worked  in1770 by Mr John Bedford of Birmingham
    • He erected a blast furnace worked by water power. Also  a brickworks and colliery which were abandoned in 1824.
    • Bought by Mr Bryant of Merthyr Tydfil who repaired the works, erected a blast engine and made a small quantity of iron. His son followed him, shipped Cribbwr coal and pig-iron at Porthcawl using the tramroad from the Llynfi Valley .
  • Maesteg, 1826. Two blast furnaces .
    • In 1833/4 occurred a series of disastrous strikes
    • In 1836, the Maesteg Ironworks made the iron pillars used in the building of the Bridgend Market Place.
    • Third blast furnace built in 1844
    • In 1846, a foundry was added to make railway chairs
    • Some years later produced large quantities of pig-iron for the Margam Tinplate works.
    • In 1856, they had in full operation 3 blast furnaces, 15 levels and 81 coke ovens, employing 5-600 men
    • Trading conditions worsened and  after some years of idleness the Maesteg Ironworksit went into liquidation before being bought out by Llynfi, Tondu and Ogmore Coal and Iron Company.
  • Coegnant Estate [Maesteg].  Leased by J H Allen, Neath, in 1830, who erected a smelter works consisting of  4 furnaces and a calciner, and opened a colliery.
    • Became the Cambrian Iron Co in 1837, which began the erection of 4 blast furnaces [ first blown in 1839] on the  west side of the valley above Maesteg with a forge [1845/6] and rolling, slit, and rail mills [1846/55]
    • Large colliery sunk, valuable seams of blackband ironstone were discovered and extensively worked.
    • Became known as the Llynfi Vale Iron Company, period 1855/68 most successful in its history, 4 blast furnaces in full work with about 30 puddling furnaces, 2 squeezers, 2 pairs of muck rolls, and 4 mills, the whole works supplied with motive power by 10 engines. About 110 coke ovens provided fuel, over 100 horses employed together with about 1500 men between the works and the collieries.
    • Changed its name to Llynfi Vale Coal and Iron Company, but in 1872 became the Llynfi, Tondu and Ogmore Coal and Iron Co Ltd [ see below] to run the Maesteg[Cambrian]Ironworks and those at Tondu and the Ogmore Valley. Soon went into liquidation and succeeded by Llynfi and Tondu Coal and iron Company which caried on the Cambrian works for some time. In 1886 the company's ironworks at Maesteg came to a total  stop.[the year T C Evans the author of the source book wrote it].
  • Tondu. About 1836 the Glamorgan Iron and Coal Company erected 2 blast furnaces here, with forges and mills being added sometime afterwards by Sir Robert Price, M.P. The company exploited the blackband iron ore at Bryndefaid which was carried on mules to the tramway, 3 miles away, and on to Tondu.
    • They also made a tram-road to serve their collieries at Bettws .
    • The iron trade about this time became very depressed and they ceased production for several years.
    • In 1853/4, Messrs John Brogden & Son bought the Tondu Iron Works and Collieries and greatly developed the neighbourhood. It was this company which eventually absorbed  most of the iron works of the Maesteg district.
    • The mineral property of the Llynfi, Tondu and Ogmore Coal and Iron Co Ltd in 1872 consisted of some 14,000 acres and included 2 blast furnaces, forges and mills at Tondu ; 3 blast furnaces at Maesteg ; and 4 blast furnaces , forges , and mills at Llynfi ; and the Ogmore collieries.
  • Bryndu, near Pyle. In 1834, a Mr O'Neil formed a company to work a colliery on Mr Talbot's property at Bryndu, upon which were erected 2  blast furnaces [cupolas].
    • The company failed and the works were purchased by a London solicitor called Ford who, with his two sons, carried on the colliery and coke works on an extensive scale.
    • In 1872 the works reverted to Mr Talbot who was then working them.
  • Cefncws. Messrs Malins & Rawlinson [Porthcawl Iron and Coal Company] bought the old grist mill from Mr Bryant, at Cefncws in 1839.
    • A colliery was started and they erected 3 blast furnaces there and 3 at Garth between Llangynwyd Station and Maesteg, which they carried on under the title 'The Patent Galvanised Iron Company'[formed 1844].
    • The company took a lease in the following year of 650 acres in Llangynwyd parish for the construction of Garth furnaces but in 1846 several trustees were operating for the company which now traded under the name of Malins and Rawlinson.
    • They were leases of the Park, or Park Tyrgunter, mineral property, from which they worked the Cribbwr Fawr seam of coal.  The company was wound up in 1850.

There is a  separate section in Appendix A covering ;

  • The Landore Siemens Steel Works, 1874 [ see Transactions South Wales Inst of Engineers, vol ix, 1874/5]. See above for some extracts from this section.

[Based on The Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921. By D Trevor Williams. University College of Swansea Pamphlet 4.  1940.