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Swansea and its hinterland ...  [4]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Economic Development of Swansea and of the Swansea District to 1921

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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 on Gareth's Help Page

Preface;

"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

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;

[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]


Smelting;

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;

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

[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;

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

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;

Coal-owners in the coastal belt included;

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;

[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;

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    1900 1905 1913
Brecon tons

258,747

tons

402,351

tons

406,836

tons

706,629

Glamorgan 748,520 909, 320 1,186,394 1,995,730
Carmarthen 668,861 843,657 1,143,590 2,075,755

 

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;

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

Copper

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

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;

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

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;

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

[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;

[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;

[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

Neath Abbey

Neath

Skewen

Cambrian Copper Works, Llanelly

Penclawdd

Pembrey

Landore-Llangyfelach Works

Landore Works of Dr Lane of Bristol

Landore works of Messrs Dillwyn Richards

Landore, Cuba Rd Works

White Rock Works, Swansea

Black Vale Works[Cwmbwrla]

Middle Bank

Upper Bank Works

Upper Bank

Upper Bank works of Grenfell & Sons

Old Forest, Morriston, Messrs Vivian

Port Tennant

Llansamlet district

Llansamlet Smelting Works[Six Pits Junction]

Clyne Wood Chemical Works

Danygraig Copperworks

Clydach

General comments/data

[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;

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 ;

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. 

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;

 

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 ;

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

There were forges during the C18 at ;

Rolling mills are mentioned at ;

There were engineering works and foundries at ;

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

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

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

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.

 

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]

2. Tinplate and Sheet Works

There is a  separate section in Appendix A covering ;

Works mentioned in text ;

There is a  separate section in Appendix A covering ;

[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.

 

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