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1884 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Visits to Works

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1884. Visits to Works.
1884. Visits to Works.
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Note: This is a sub-section of 1884 Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Visits to Works (Excursions) in the Cardiff area

Bute Shipbuilding and Engineering Works

Bute Shipbuilding and Engineering Works

Situated between the River Taff and the Glamorganshire Canal. The forge is adapted for the heaviest work required in shipbuilding and repairing; adjacent are fitters', smiths', boilermakers', plumbers', and pattern-makers' shops, and foundry. In the centre of the yard is a boat-building shop and store, with carpenters' and joiners' shops overhead. A locomotive steam-crane is employed, capable of lifting 7½ tons. Two hopper-barges, each of 300 tons dead-weight capacity, were recently launched from the yard, for use in connection with the dredgers that keep the channel open to the entrances of the Bute Docks. At the time of the Members' visit, a screw steamer built entirely of Landore steel was on the stocks, nearly completed, 240 ft. long by 33 ft. broad and 18 ft. deep, with a dead-weight capacity of 2000 tons. There was also just commenced the caisson of 87 ft. length, 16 ft. width, and 29 ft. depth, which will be used for subdividing into two lengths the new Bute dry dock belonging to this company, now in course of construction at the southern corner of the Roath Basin, as described in Mr. McConnochie's paper (page 238). The iron gates for this new dock were also built at these works.

Wallsend Slipway and Engineering Works

Wallsend Slipway and Engineering Works

These works were opened on 1st July 1884, and cover about an acre of ground between the public graving dock (page 233) and the new Roath dock now in course of construction (page 227). The lofty main building, 150 ft. long and 67 ft. wide, constitutes the erecting and machine shop, containing several fine new tools, which are driven by Kirkstall cold-rolled shafting. A 25-ton overhead travelling crane, driven by a square shaft, commands the shop, and runs over the railway siding which passes across at one end. There is no steam engine on the premises, the motive power being obtained from one of Crossley's 16-H.P. gas engines, supplied by Dowson's gas apparatus using anthracite coal. A gallery over the smaller machine-tools is occupied for pattern-making and wood-working. The plant for boiler-making and for repairing iron ships is temporarily in the main building, pending the erection of a similar building adjoining. In the yard are a plate-heating furnace and a beam-bending machine. Another building, 113 ft. long and 45 ft. wide, forms the foundry, containing plant specially designed for casting large propellers; part of this shop is at present used as a smithy.

Tyneside Engine Works

Tyneside Engine Works

These works, which were opened in January 1884, are situated near the public graving dock (page 233), and have an area of about an acre. They employ some 250 workmen, who are mostly occupied outside the works, executing repairs on board of steamers in the docks.

The buildings are lofty, light, and substantial, and the tools new and of recent design. A railway siding runs through the premises. The erecting shop has a 10-ton overhead travelling crane. In the machine shop are the usual tools for ship-repairing, the fitters' benches and light machines being in a gallery. Adjoining are the coppersmiths' shop and the brass foundry. The pattern shop and carpenters' shop, with the usual wood-working machinery, are on the upper floors of a boat-building shop. The smiths' shop with steam hammer is near the boiler shop, which contains an overhead travelling crane to lift 35 tons, steam and hydraulic boiler-making machinery, and a large sunken fire for welding up stern-frames and similar heavy work. In the yard are heating furnaces for plates and angle-iron frames, with plate-levelling blocks.

Hill's Dry Docks and Engineering Works

Hills Dry Docks and Engineering Co

These works were established in 1857 for the building, and more especially the repairing, of iron or wood vessels. There is a graving dock at the head of the Bute West Dock, 230 ft. long by 40 ft. wide, with 12½ ft. of water over the sill, and so arranged as to be capable of taking in at the same time two vessels of 150 ft. and 135 ft. length. But the chief premises are at the north-west side of the Bute East Dock, opposite the masting shears, near the ballast wharf, adjoining the coal tips, and comprising about four acres. Here there are two graving docks side by side, one being 408 ft. long and 48 ft. wide at the entrance; the other, recently constructed, is 400 ft. long and 40 ft. wide at entrance; each has 18½ ft. of water over the sill. Between the two docks are laid rails, on which is a travelling crane capable of lifting 10 tons from either dock. The pumping apparatus, by Messrs. W. H. Allen and Co. of London, is very effectively arranged, so as to be available for either dock, and able to dry a ship in 1½ hours (page 236). The iron caissons are also of original construction. As tides have not to be considered, vessels can be docked and undocked with rapidity and perfect safety at all hours, without risk or loss of time. Here also is the engineering establishment, with foundry and fitting shop, supplied with the most modern machinery; and ranges of sheds with all appliances for iron ship building. The whole establishment is conveniently arranged, and is in immediate connection with the general railway system.

Mountstuart Shipbuilding, Docks and Works

Mountstuart Works

No. 1 dock is 324 ft. long by 70 ft. wide, with entrance. gates 45 ft. wide, and 20 ft. depth of water on the sill and keel-blocks at ordinary spring tides. No. 2 dock is 420 ft. long by 105 ft. wide, with entrance gates 52 ft. wide, and 26 ft. depth of water on sill and keel-blocks at ordinary spring tides; it has also inner gates, which retain 20 ft. depth of water on the keel-blocks. In this dock two vessels, each 360 ft. long, can be accommodated alongside each other. In the event of the dock being required for a vessel exceeding 360 ft., a middle row of blocks can be utilised to take a ship of 420 ft. length. To the west and north of the graving docks are the brass and iron foundries, saw mills, coppersmiths', joiners', pattern-makers', and boiler shops, smithy, forge, and engineering shops. In the smithy are two large ground fires, capable of heating large forgings such as keels and stern-frames. Whilst undergoing repairs which do not necessitate the use of a dry dock, ships lie alongside the yard on the mud in perfect safety. Extension of the premises is intended. A railway siding runs into the yard.

Taff Vale Railway Loco Shops

Taff Vale Railway Loco Shops

The locomotive and repairing shops of the Taff Vale Railway are situated close to the Bute Docks. The erecting shop is in the middle of the yard, and contains eleven pits; and there is room also for four boilers to come in for having their mountings fitted on. Under a lean-to roof seven other boilers can also be fitted. Thus eleven boilers can be prepared and eleven engines erected at the same time. The pits lie across the shop; and there are traversers at each end of the shop, running the entire length. Over any pit can also be placed a portable gantry, driven by belt from the shop shafting. Around the yard are various machine-shops, with the necessary tools for turning out locomotive and hydraulic work, a good deal of the latter being for use at Penarth dock and harbour, for the hydraulic cranes and coal machinery. A tube-drawing apparatus is used for working up old brass boiler-tubes that have become defective at the ends, instead of cutting the ends off and piecing them; the tube is drawn cold through a pair of dies tapering slightly smaller than the tube; the diameter of the tube is thereby very slightly diminished but the thickness is rather increased, and the length is increased sufficiently to allow of cutting off the defective end. In the yard is a gas furnace for heating tyres by means of two semicircular gas and air pipes pierced with holes. In the boiler shop are hydraulic riveters with compound accumulator: the stationary machine has a 7 ft. gap, so as to rivet up a whole boiler-barrel, and it will also take in work 20 ins. wide for girders; the portable machine is for riveting foundation and fire-hole rings. In the smiths' shop are two small steam hammers, and two of Allen's steam strikers, which latter have to a great extent superseded the spring oliver previously used.

Lloyd's Bute Proving House

Lloyds Bute Proving House

Contains two powerful hydraulic machines, which indicate the strains applied by levers and dead weights. The breaking machine tests up to 250 tons, and is fitted with duplex hydraulic gauges, one of which indicates from 1 lb. to 6000 lbs. per sq. inch, and the other from 1 lb. to 1000 lbs., for experimental and light testing. The tensile machine, the bed of which is 15 fathoms long, tests up to 180 tons. The hydraulic shears are capable of exerting a force of 250 tons, and are fitted with gauges to indicate the pressure applied in shearing iron and other metals cold. In addition to the ordinary testing of chain-cables and anchors, experimental testing of iron, steel, wood, concrete, &c., is also carried out. On the occasion of the visit of the Members on Wednesday afternoon, 6th August, the following tensile tests were made by the superintendent, Mr. George W. Penn, upon three samples from a round iron bar rolled from blooms made of scrap iron. The first sample, tested with the skin on, was 1.56 inch diameter, and broke at a total load of 43.20 tons, equivalent to 22.61 tons per square inch, with a good fracture, fine and fibrous; its diameter at the fracture was 1.18 inch, showing 42.9 per cent. contraction in area; and the elongation in 10 inches was 25.8 per cent. The second sample, tested with the skin on, but welded, was 1.53 inch diameter, and broke across the weld at 40.50 tons load, equal to 22.12 tons per square inch, showing a good fibrous fracture with a few crystals; the diameter at the fracture was 1.38 inch, being 18.6 per cent. contraction in area; and the elongation in 10 inches was 14.0 per cent. The third sample had the skin turned off down to 0.872 inch diameter for a length of 6 inches, and broke in the reduced part at 13.75 tons load, equal to 23.03 tons per square inch, with a good fibrous fracture; the diameter at the fracture was 0.656 inch, showing 43.5 per cent. contraction of area; and the elongation in the 6 inches was 37.5 per cent. A sample of round BBH bar iron of 3 inches diameter was sheared at 20.78 tons per square inch with a good clean cut. Drawings were exhibited of nine anchors which had been tested to destruction, showing the fractures as they took place in testing.

Cardiff Rope Works

Cardiff Rope Works

These works, belonging to Messrs. Joseph Elliott and Sons, were erected in 1875, and rebuilt in 1879, after being almost entirely destroyed by fire. They comprise a large mill in which the preparation and spinning of Manilla and Europe hemp rope are carried on. The machinery is of the newest and best style, the latest additions being two spinning machines by Messrs. Lawson and Sons of Leeds, which turn out the most perfect yarn it has hitherto been possible to spin. From this mill the yarn is passed over to the rope-laying department, where the machines have a travel of about 1200 feet, all covered in by a corrugated iron roof extending from a warehouse 200 ft. by 30 ft. The machinery is capable of making from the very smallest to the largest rope a ship may require; the largest yet made was a 13-inch Manilla rope 120 fathoms long, which was made up in less than eight hours. Owing to the complete and convenient arrangement of all the appliances in the works, the greatest economy of labour is carried out. Upwards of 30 hands are regularly employed, and the works are capable of manufacturing about 10 tons per week. Arrangements are now being made to erect machinery for the manufacture of steel-wire rope, to meet the increasing demand for this class of rope both for steam-ships and for collieries.

Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Works

Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Works

Started in 1874, these works are the sixth which have been erected in this country by the Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Company, for the treatment by the "wet process" of burnt pyrites, being the residues from the mineral imported from the Spanish mines worked by the company, from which copper, lead, silver, gold, and also purple ore or "blue billy," are produced. The works employ some 200 men, and occupy about 30 acres, of which about 11½ acres are under cover.

Cardiff Gas Light and Coke Works

Cardiff Gas Light and Coke Works

Incorporated in 1837, and now employing 250 men at the two stations, the combined area of which is about 12 acres; the old station is near the head of the Bute West Dock, and the new works are at Grangetown.

Bute Gas Works


These works are the property of the Marquess of Bute, erected in 1871 for supplying gas to the Bute Docks, which at that time required fourteen million cubic feet annually, but at the present time require thirty million cubic feet annually. The plant is of modern type, consisting of six retort benches, each containing seven clay retorts, 21 ins. by 15 ins., Paddon's condensers, Anderson's exhauster and scrubber, and a set of four purifiers, each 16 ft. by 8 ft., worked by one of Cockey's dry-faced centre-valves; vertical engine and two Cornish boilers; Wright's station meter; gas-holder of 75,000 cub. ft. capacity.

Steam Dyeing and Laundry Works


These works, belonging to Messrs. W. E. Vaughan and Co., comprise about 17,000 sq. feet of covered floorage, and employ 98 hands, 24 males and 74 females. The machinery consists of four steam-power washing machines; chemical cleaning, merino-finishing, carpet-cleaning, ironing, calendering, glazing, wringing, and starching machines; box mangle, hydro-extractors, logwood-extractor, finishing cylinders, presses, and frames.

Steam Bakery


Built in 1879 by the proprietor, Mr. George Hopkins, and covers half an acre of land. It contains three ovens of the ordinary pattern; and one of novel design, heated by Perkins' steam-pipes for continuous working and maintaining a uniform temperature. In this oven the floor, sides, and arched roof are lined with plain straight wrought-iron tubes, slightly inclined to the horizontal, with their lower ends projecting outwards into the furnace outside the back of the oven. The tubes are welded up at both ends, after each has been partly filled with water, by which the heat from the fire is conveyed into the oven and diffused equably throughout. The bakery is also fitted with various labour-saving machines for all processes in the making of cake and bread: including belts for carrying the loaves from the ovens to the packing and sale rooms, and for returning the empty tins. A cylindrical fruit-cleaner of centrifugal action, capable of cleaning one ton per day, is driven by a steam engine; the other various machines in the factory are driven by an Otto gas-engine of six horse-power. The bakery is capable of turning out three thousand 4 lb. bread loaves and ten tons of cake weekly; forty hands are employed.

Penarth Dock and Harbour

Penarth Dock

The Penarth Dock and Basin are situated in a line with each other on the south bank of the mouth of the River Ely. There is also a tidal harbour at Penarth, formed by the lower part of the River Ely, which is provided with staiths for the shipment of coal on its northern bank. The Penarth Dock and Harbour original works were designed by Sir John Hawkshaw, and carried out under his supervision and that of Mr. Samuel Dobson. The dock extension recently completed was designed and carried out by Sir John Hawkshaw and Mr. George Fisher, Mr. H. Oakden Fisher being the resident engineer.

Penarth Dock. - The dimensions of the dock are as follows: length, 2900 ft.; width, 370 ft.; area, 23 acres. The basin is 400 ft. long by 330 ft. wide, and its area is 3 acres. The lock is 270 ft. long and 60 ft. wide. The sea entrance also is 60 ft. in width. On the sill of the sea-gates and the lock-gates the depth of water is 35 ft. at ordinary spring tides, and 25 ft. at neap tides. Being a tidal dock, at high water the gates can be opened from sea to dock, allowing immediate ingress and egress of ships, thus preventing the delay so often complained of in the shipment of minerals at other ports.

There are fourteen coal-tips now constructed on the south side of the dock, and two in the basin. They are each capable of shipping 150 tons per hour. All of these tips are on the high level, worked by hydraulic and counterbalance machinery. The coal trucks are worked on and off the tips by gravitation. One of the tips in the dock and the tip in the basin are twin tips; that is to say, the loading of coal into the same vessel is intended to be effected by means of two tips simultaneously, and vessels loading at the twin tips can be loaded at the rate of 300 tons per hour. The dock being constructed on a curve enables the coal tips, built on jetties, to project one beyond another; thus the longest ships load without interference by reason of their overlapping each other.

On the north side of the dock there are ten hydraulic and steam cranes, for discharging iron ore, ballast, &c., five of which are portable, and a 10-ton lifting crane, with the necessary sidings for working them. Two of these cranes have been so placed that they will work into the same vessel at the same time. This double arrangement and the twin tips have been specially provided to give despatch to steamers. Very powerful hydraulic machinery has been provided, by which are worked the ballast and ore cranes, as well as the machinery for opening and closing the gates, the sluice machines, capstans, fender-chain machines, &c. There are about 28 miles of sidings connected with this dock, for storing wagons for the convenience of merchants.

Penarth Tidal Harbour. - Length measuring along the centre of the river, 13,000 ft.; frontage on Cardiff side, 12,000 ft.; on Penarth side, 12,700 ft.; total frontage, 24,700 ft. Average width at water line at high water for first reach of river, 600 ft.; length, 4,000 ft.; area, 55 acres. Average width at water line in same reach when depth of water is 15 ft., 280 ft.; area, 26 acres. Number of staiths for the shipment of coal, thirteen; room for six more; each staith capable of shipping 150 tons an hour. Depth of water in the berths at high water at ordinary spring tides, 30 ft.; and at ordinary neap tides, 20 feet. Vessels up to 800 tons burden take the ground, and are loaded with safety and despatch in this harbour. The maximum run of the tide is at the rate of about 2 knots an hour. Three cranes for unloading ballast and iron-ore, each capable of unloading 50 tons an hour. A large wharf is in course of erection, upon which will be placed three more portable hydraulic cranes for unloading iron-ore and ballast.

Great Western Colliery

Great Western Colliery

This Colliery, situated at Gyfeillon, near Pontypridd, has two shafts for winding only, and one for pumping only.

Winding. - No. 1 or the Hetty pit is 16 ft. diameter and 400 yards deep, being sunk to the 6 ft. seam; but it is now working the 4 ft. seams of steam coal, which is met with at a depth of 365 yards. The output is about 1200 tons per day. The winding engines have horizontal cylinders 40 ins. diameter and 6 ft. stroke, fitted with Stevens' automatic expansion gear. The rope-drums are 16 ft. diameter, winding flat ropes. No. 2 pit is oval, 14 ft. 4 ins. by 10 ft. 9 ins., and 430 yards deep, working the red coal, which is a seam of high quality steam-coal. The output is about 300 tons per day. The winding engines have horizontal cylinders 30 ins. diameter and 4 ft. stroke. The rope-drums are 11 ft. diameter, winding flat ropes. Electric signals are used in both the pits.

Ventilation. — Guibal fan of 40 ft. diameter, driven direct at 52 revs. per min. by an engine with cylinder of 36 ins. diameter and 3 ft. stroke; a second similar engine is in reserve. A Schiele fan is now being erected. No. 1 is the downcast pit, and No. 2 the upcast.

Underground Haulage by Compressed Air. - The air-compressor, constructed by Messrs. Daniel Adamson and Co., has two steam cylinders of 40 ins. diameter, and air cylinders of 42 ins. diameter, with 6 ft. stroke. The compressed air works the following Stevens' underground engines, constructed at the Uskside Iron Works, Newport:— one hauling engine, having a pair of 14-inch cylinders with 18 inches stroke; and three hauling engines, each having a pair of 8-inch cylinders with 12 inches stroke. These hauling engines are all in No. 1 pit, where the working faces are at an average distance of about 1000 yards from the shaft; the roads are straight, and the gradients so easy that an engine is required at the foot of the incline to overhaul the rope. In No. 2 pit the haulage is done by horses, the workings being near the shaft. Steam is supplied to the air compressor from four boilers, which are fired by the waste gases from fifty Coppee coke ovens. One of Sheppard's three-tank coal-washing machines is used for washing the coal for coking, and turns out 200 tons per day.

Pumping. - One pump with a single-acting 4-inch ram of 6 inches stroke is sufficient for raising all the water met with in the colliery.

Lewis' Merthyr Colliery

Lewis Merthyr Colliery

At this colliery, situated at Havod in the Rhondda Valley, of which the engineering manager is Mr. William Thos. Rees, there are three pits, — the Bertie and the Havod, on opposite sides of the valley, each working the upper 4 ft. seam of steam coal at a depth of 360 yards; and the Coedcae pit on the same side as the Bertie, working the No. 3 seam of bituminous coal at 120 yards depth.

At the Berlin pit the winding machinery consists of a pair of horizontal 42-inch cylinders with 7 ft. stroke, working a spiral drum of 15 to 30 ft. diameter, the whole constructed by Messrs. John Fowler and Co., Leeds. The pulley-frame is of wrought iron. The output averages 1100 tons per day. A Schiele fan of 14 ft. diameter, constructed by the Union Engineering Co. of Manchester, produces the ventilation; it is driven by a belt from an engine with 24-inch cylinder, a duplicate engine being in reserve; the engine pulley, making 55 to 60 revs. per min., is 17 ft. diameter, and the fan pulley is 6 ft. 2 ins. diameter; the water-gauge in the fan drift averages 2.2 ins., and the ventilation produced is over 200,000 cubic feet per minute.

The Havod pit has a horizontal winding engine with 30-inch cylinders and 6 ft. stroke, and drum 12 ft. diameter with round ropes. The output averages 680 tons per day. A Waddle fan of 40 ft. diameter, driven by an engine with 30-inch cylinder, produces the ventilation; it is estimated to be capable of delivering 150,000 cubic feet of air per minute.

At the Coedcae pit the winding engine has a pair of 24-inch cylinders with 4 ft. stroke; the drum is 12 ft. diameter, winding flat ropes. The output averages 280 tons per day. The underground haulage is on the tail-rope system, and the distance is one mile; it is done by a steam engine with 14-inch cylinders and 16-inch stroke, which with its boilers is placed close to the bottom of the upcast shaft. Furnace ventilation is used, and naked lights in the workings.

There are 111 coke ovens of ordinary type, to which Sheppard's coal-washing machine and crushers supply 200 tons per day. The waste heat and gases from the coke ovens are utilised for raising steam in eight Lancashire boilers of 6½ ft. diameter and 36 ft. length, under which no coal is consumed.

Cymmer Colliery

Cymmer Colliery

This colliery is situated close to Porth in the Rhondda Valley, and belongs to Messrs. George Insole and Son, the manager being Mr. Thomas Griffiths. There are three pits, two of which, the Old and the New, are 400 yards deep, and are sunk to the 9 ft. seam of steam coal, underlying the celebrated 4 ft. seam. The long-wall system of working is followed, and the average output is 1300 tons of steam coal per day, chiefly from the 4 ft. seam. The third pit yields bituminous coal for household use.

At the Old pit, which is the upcast, the winding is done by a pair of horizontal engines with 28-inch cylinders of 4 ft. stroke, working a drum of 11 ft. diameter with round ropes; the height of the head gear over the shaft is 60 ft., and the pulleys are 12 ft. diameter.

The New pit, which is the downcast, has a pair of horizontal winding engines constructed by Messrs. Harvey of Hayle; the cylinders are 42 ins. diameter by 6½ ft. stroke, and are fitted with automatic expansion gear which has saved one boiler out of eight. The winding drum is 17 ft. diameter, and flat ropes are used; the head gear over the shaft is 75 ft. high, and the pulleys are 17 ft. diameter. The coal is weighed and screened on an iron heapstead, 144 ft. long and 44 ft. wide, erected over the pit mouth. The cages are loaded and unloaded by Fisher's steam banking apparatus, which elevates the rails so that the empty tram runs by gravity into the cage and helps to push the full tram out. Beneath the heapstead is Sheppard's coal-washing machine with crushers, capable of washing 200 tons per day.

The ventilation is effected by a Waddle fan of 45 ft. diameter, driven by a 32-inch cylinder of 4 ft. stroke, and producing a current of 250,000 cubic feet of air per minute, with a water-gauge of 3 inches in the fan drift and 2 inches at the separation doors underground.

For underground haulage there is a pair of horizontal engines at surface, with 20-inch cylinders of 3½ ft. stroke, geared 6 to 1 to two pairs of grooved drums, one pair 10 ft. diameter and the other pair 5 ft. The ropes from the drums pass down the pit, and haul independently from three separate districts ou the endless-rope system at a speed of 2½ miles per hour.

A small gas-works at surface is supplied by a blower of gas, which is conveyed up the shaft by pipes and is forced by a steam injector into the purifiers. Another injector forces the purified gas down the pit for lighting the workings; and the water from the injector steam is separated from the gas in a receiver placed at the pit bottom.

Llwynypia Colliery

Llwynypia Colliery

Of this Colliery, belonging to the Glamorgan Coal Co., and situated about the centre of the Rhondda Valley, the manager is Mr. W. W. Hood. There are three shafts used for drawing coal. Pits Nos. 2 and 6 are set apart entirely for winning the lower or steam-coal measures, and No. 3 pit for the upper or bituminous measures. The total quantity of coal drawn per day is about 1600 tons.

No. 2 pit is 372 yards deep. The winding engines have cylinders 34 ins. diameter with 5½ ft. stroke, and a spiral drum 15 ft. and 25 ft. diameter. The cages are double-decked, and draw two trams at a time; the total weight, including coal, trams, and cage, is about 5½ tons. Underground there are two pairs of hauling engines, driven by steam, each having cylinders 18 ins. diameter with 3 ft. stroke; and the drums are 6 ft. diameter, geared 3 to 1. One of these engines draws coal from a distance of 1600 yards along a very undulating road; the other from a distance of about 1100 yards along a more regular gradient, down which the load descends throughout the whole distance. The sidings at the bottom of the pit are worked by endless-rope haulage, which is driven by an engine having a cylinder 14 ins. diameter with 3 ft. stroke; one of Fowler's clip-pulleys is used, of 4 ft. diameter.

No. 6 pit is 403 yards deep. The winding engines have cylinders 30 ins. diameter with 5 ft. stroke, and 14-ft. drum; but here the load is only about half that at the other pit. Underground there are two hauling engines, each driven by compressed air, and of much smaller dimensions than those in No. 2 pit.

No. 3 pit is only 108 yards deep. The winding engines are of the diagonal type, the cylinders being 15 ins. diameter, geared 3 to 1; the drum is 8 ft. diameter. At this pit there is only one hauling engine, which is situated at the surface, and works two separate planes underground by the main-and-tail-rope system.

A 15-ft. Schiele fan placed at No. 6 pit ventilates all the workings of the colliery. It is driven direct at 140 to 145 revs. per min. by a horizontal engine having a cylinder 21 ins, diameter with 21 ins. stroke. The total current of air produced is about 200,000 cubic feet per minute, with a water gauge of 1½ inch.

The compressed air for working the underground hauling engines in No. 6 pit is supplied by a pair of air-compressors having steam cylinders 26 ins. diameter and 4 ft. stroke, and air cylinders 24 ins. diameter.

Two pumping engines made by Messrs. Hathorn Davey and Co. are placed at the bottom of No. 4 pit, which is entirely set apart for pumping the water from the upper measures. The quantity of water to be dealt with seldom exceeds 400 gallons per minute.

There are over 300 coke ovens of the ordinary Welsh type, 12 ft. long and 6 ft. wide by 5½ ft. high; each produces about 6 tons of coke per week. They are all charged at the top; and endless-rope haulage is used throughout for drawing the coal from pit-bank to ovens. The batches are always watered in the ovens; and small steam travelling cranes are used for drawing them after coking.

Dowlais Iron Works

Dowlais Iron Works

These extensive works were founded nearly 140 years ago, and are in many respects noteworthy as having been connected with several important epochs in the iron and steel industry of South Wales. Here the first steel rail ever made was rolled, the mill from which it was turned out being in active work at the present time. Dowlais is also historically interesting as having been connected with the earliest history of the locomotive. Scattered over a vast area of ground, the works are at present on the eve of many and great changes, which will have the effect of transforming their whole aspect.

At the southern end are the steel works. There are three Bessemer pits, each of which has two 8-ton converters. The ladle with the metal is brought in from the furnaces at the back of the converters at a level somewhat above that of the pits, and is raised by a hydraulic lift to a higher level for tapping into the converters. There are two cupolas for spiegel at the back of each pit, placed high enough for the spiegel to flow into the converters. There are four cupolas for melting pig when required. For blowing the converters there is a pair of horizontal engines by Messrs. Hick Hargreaves and Co., having 36-inch steam cylinders and 48-inch air cylinders, the stroke being 5 ft. These are the original engines erected in this part of the works for steel making; and in addition to them there is a pair of vertical engines by Messrs. Daniel Adamson and Co., with 40-inch steam cylinders, 54-inch air cylinders, and a stroke of 5 ft. There are three pairs of Siemens-Martin steel furnaces, which take respectively 6, 7, and 8-ton charges; each pair of furnaces is in connection with a pit, which is arranged in the same way as the Bessemer pits. The hydraulic machinery for both the Bessemer and Siemens plant is situated in the same building. It consists of four pairs of pumping engines, namely a pair of 10 inch by 12 inch, a pair of 12 inch by 21 inch, a pair of 16 inch by 24 inch, and a pair of 14 inch by 30 inch engines. Near them there is also a beam blowing-engine, with 36-inch steam cylinder and 7 ft. stroke, which is used for blowing converters when they are being warmed. There are also three Roots' blowers for serving the cupolas. Steam is supplied by nineteen single and double-flue boilers, fired with coal.

The ingots are taken hot from the moulds to the cogging mills, by means of iron trolleys which hold six or eight ingots each. The original cogging-mill engine is by Messrs. Kitson and Co.; it is geared four to one, and has two cylinders, each 30 ins. diameter by 4 ft. stroke. The rolls are 36 ins. between centres, the top rolls being movable. The blooms are sheared into lengths by a pair of horizontal sliding shears, and then lifted on bogies by a hydraulic crane, to be taken to the rolling mill. In the second cogging mill the rolls are 36 ins. diameter, and are driven by a double pair of compound horizontal tandem engines by Messrs. Kitson and Co., geared three to one; these are fitted with piston valves, and have cylinders 24 ins. and 43 ins. diameter, the stroke being 4 ft. The carrying rollers to this train are placed very close together, and are driven by a continuous train of spur-wheel gearing. There are four heating furnaces fired by gas, and thirteen in which coal is used; most of these have steam boilers attached. For serving all the furnaces, four blocks of gas-producers are provided, each block having twelve fires.

The rail mills have a train with 25-inch centres, driven direct by a pair of horizontal engines by Messrs. Kitson and Co., with cylinders 48 ins. diameter by 4½ ft. stroke. Here there are ten heating furnaces, all fired with coal, from which the blooms are drawn by hydraulic power. From the mill train the rails are travelled on carrying rollers in the usual way to a swinging circular saw, and then to the straightening presses. There are eight rail-ending machines, driven by separate engines, for the purpose of cutting rails to exact length; and eight horizontal rail-drills, driven by a semi-portable engine.

A new rail-mill is being laid down, for which the engines by Messrs. Kitson and Co. are in course of erection; they have 60-inch cylinders and 5 ft. stroke, and will be coupled direct to a 25-inch train. In these, as in the other engines, the reversing is effected by hydraulic power. In the centre, of this mill there stands an old beam-engine which drove the rolls for many years.

In the principal part of the works there are now six furnaces in blast, of various sizes from 50 ft. to 60 ft. high. No. 1 is cylindrical, 60 ft. high, and hooped with iron bands; the diameter at the boshes is 17½ ft., at the hearth 7½ ft., and at the throat 12½ ft. Attached to it are three Cowper stoves, 22 ft. diameter and 60 ft. high, two serving the furnace whilst the third is being heated. Close to this, a new furnace of similar style is being erected, of the same diameter but 10 ft. higher. No. 9 furnace, of the same dimensions as No. 1, has the blast heated by three-Whitwell stoves, two delivering blast whilst the third is being heated. The other furnaces in blast are of smaller dimensions and fitted with pipe stoves. The blowing engines are placed in various buildings. The first is of the ordinary beam type, having a steam cylinder 55 ins. diameter and 13 ft. stroke, and an air cylinder 144 ins. diameter and 12 ft. stroke. The second and third engines are also of the beam type, working independently of each other. Their steam cylinders are 60 ins. diameter with 10 ft. stroke, and their air cylinders 132 ins. diameter with 9 ft. stroke. The fourth engine is an old low-pressure condensing beam-engine, with double-beat valves worked by tappet gear; the steam cylinder is 60 ins. diameter, the air cylinder 96 ins., and the stroke 8 ft. The fifth is a compound non-condensing beam-engine with cylinders 42 ins. and 60 ins. diameter, air cylinder 144 ins. diameter, and stroke 10 ft. The sixth is a beam-engine with 45-inch steam cylinder and 104-inch air cylinder, the stroke being 9 ft. These engines all deliver into one main, the pressure of blast being about 3½ lbs. per sq. inch. They are driven principally by boilers fired by the waste gases from the furnaces and coke ovens, only a small quantity of coal being burnt for raising steam. On the high ground at the back of the furnaces are stored the materials, which are raised to the additional height of the more modern furnaces by steam hoists with overhead cylinders connected direct.

In addition to extensive ranges of coke ovens of the ordinary South Wales type, situated on the high ground at the back of the furnaces, there are two blocks of Coppee ovens, each containing 36 ovens, which are served by two steam pushers-out. Coal-washing machinery has recently been fitted up by M. Evence Coppee of Brussels, worked by a horizontal engine with a 30-inch cylinder and 5 ft. stroke; it is intended for treating at one operation both bituminous coal and harder varieties.

At the Ivor Works, forming the northern portion of the premises, there are four furnaces in blast, and one out, making iron for the rolling mills. One of them is 65 ft. high, and is served by Whitwell stoves, the others having the old cast-iron pipe-stoves. There are two blowing engines, one having a steam cylinder of 52 ins. diameter, and air cylinder of 144 ins., with 9 ft. stroke; the other is a horizontal engine, with steam cylinder 52 ins. diameter, air cylinder 108 ins., and 9 ft. stroke. There are two puddling forges and one plate-mill, together with guide and merchant-bar mills.

Cyfarthfa Iron Works

Cyfarthfa Iron Works

These works are of great antiquity, dating back to the earliest days of the South Wales iron industry. One of the blast-furnaces bears the date 1765, though rebuilt in 1827. The tops of the old blast-furnaces now serve as a platform, from which the materials are raised a height of 20 ft. to the tops of the new furnaces by means of carriages running up an inclined plane, and worked by a winding engine at the hearth level below; this lift is designed to supply four furnaces, of which at present three only are built.

These new blast-furnaces are of the latest build, having been completed within the last three months. They are 70 ft. high from hearth to charging plate, iron-cased and close-topped. The diameter at the top is 12 ft., at the boshes 17½ ft., and across the hearth 7½ ft. The internal capacity of each is between 11,000 and 12,000 cubic feet. They are supplied with blast by three vertical direct-acting blowing engines, made by Messrs. J. C. Stevenson and Co. of Preston. The steam cylinders are 33 ins. diameter, the blast cylinders 72 ins., and the stroke is 4½ ft. The general pressure of blast is 4½ lbs. to 5 lbs. per sq. inch, but a pressure of 6 lbs. can be got if required. In front of the engine-house is a range of nine Lancashire steel boilers by Messrs. W. and J. Galloway and Sons of Manchester. They are usually fired by the waste gases from the furnaces, sometimes supplemented by a little coal; or they can be fired entirely by coal. The blast is heated by seven of Cowper's regenerative hot-blast stoves, ranged in a line at the back of the furnaces. The tuyeres to each furnace are six in number, placed at equal distances around the hearth. Between the furnaces and the pig beds runs a line of rails, upon which the ladle for supplying the Bessemer converters is brought in, the tapping level being high enough to allow the metal to run down into the ladle while on its carriage.

The railway carries the metal across the river to the platform of the new Bessemer foundry, which is now being erected. The converters are two in number, and are each of 8 tons capacity. The bottoms are changed by means of a hydraulic ram, which is mounted on a truck that runs on rails from the tuyere shed to the converters; by this means an old bottom can be taken out and replaced by a new one within twenty minutes. At the back of the converters, and sunk through the platform, are the cupolas for spiegel and scrap, which have been thus placed low in order that the whole may be roofed in at some future time, if found necessary. The casting pit is 40 ft. diameter, and is served by three single-ram cranes. The casting crane is on Messrs. Tannett Walker and Co.'s three-ram plan for saving water, having two hydraulic pressure-rams and a central guide-ram. The blowing engines are vertical high-pressure compound condensing, with steam cylinders 42 ins. and 78 ins. diameter, and blast cylinders 55 ins. diameter, the stroke being 5 ft. In the same house are a pair of hydraulic pumping engines, which are fitted with rams working behind the steam cylinders and connected to the piston-rods; the cylinders are each 18 ins. diameter by 2 ft. stroke. The blast for the cupolas is furnished by a three-cylinder engine. All these engines have been supplied by Messrs. Tannett Walker and Co. of Leeds. The condensing is effected by one of Bulkley's condensers, made by Messrs. Daniel Adamson and Co. of Dukinfield; with this condenser no air-pump is required, the vacuum being formed by condensation, and the water of condensation and injection-water being carried downwards through a vertical pipe and expelled against the atmospheric pressure by the momentum acquired.

In front of the casting pit will be placed four heating furnaces for taking the ingots hot from the moulds; each will be capable of taking nine ingots at once. The ingots will be charged and drawn by hydraulic apparatus common to all four furnaces; whence they will be taken to the 36-inch cogging rolls, driven by a pair of condensing geared engines by Messrs. W. and J. Galloway and Sons. The cylinders are each 40 ins. diameter by 5 ft. stroke, and the engine is geared 2 to 1. The ingot will be taken by carrying rollers from the cogging mill to the roughing rolls, which are 27 ins. diameter. Thence it will be pushed across to the finishing rolls, which stand in a line with the roughing train, by means of hydraulic apparatus. The cogging, roughing, and finishing rolls are all supplied by Messrs. Davy Brothers of Sheffield. The engines for working the rail mills are also by Messrs. W. and J. Galloway and Sons; they are not geared, and their cylinders are 50 ins. diameter by 4½ ft. stroke; they have also the Bulkley condenser. From the finishing rolls the rails are to be taken by carrying rollers to be cut to lengths by a circular swinging saw 5 ft. diameter, the required lengths being gauged by stops. The hot bank is 210 ft. long, and the rails are slid down along it by single and twin skids, which are worked by a pair of 6-inch horizontal engines at each end. The hot-bank machinery, as well as that of the rail yard, has been supplied Messrs. Joshua Buckton and Co. of Leeds. The rail yard is roofed by five spans of galvanised iron, each 34 ft. wide and 118 ft. long, by Messrs. Morewood and Co. There are five double straightening presses, four rail-ending machines, and six double drills, which are all driven by overhead shafting. Power is supplied by one of Messrs. Robey and Co.'s 40 horse-power semi-portable engines, having cylinders 14 ins. diameter by 22 ins. stroke. The rail benches are so placed that the finished rails are delivered straight into trucks on a lower level, so that no lifting is required.

Close to the blowing engines is a range of twelve Lancashire boilers by Messrs. Daniel Adamson and Co., for which the feed-water is heated by two of Green's economisers. The coal is brought in on a railway at a higher level, and shot into bunkers. A subway is provided in front of the boilers, along which runs a light railway used for removing the ashes. The chimney to these boilers is designed to serve two ranges of twelve, and is 202 ft. high.

The whole of this new and extensive plant has been designed by Mr. Edward Williams, of Middlesbrough, and has been carried out under the supervision of Mr. Edmund Humbly, the resident engineer.

In an older part of the works is the bar-rolling mill, in which there is a 10-inch train, and a guide-mill for smaller sizes, driven by an inverted oscillating engine with cylinder of 34 ins. diameter. There is now being erected a powerful lathe with overhead crane and gantry, for turning the heavy rolls of the steel-rail mill. Another old mill, known as the Castle mill, is undergoing alterations, and will be started again shortly. In the old puddling forge are eighteen puddling furnaces, with trains of puddling, roughing, and finishing rolls, and shears, squeezer, and tilt-hammer. Beyond is a 16-inch train of bar rolls, and roughing, planishing, and slitting rolls. The motive power is obtained from two water-wheels, each 20 ft. diameter and 37 horse-power. At a little distance is a large range of boilers, all past work, one of which is spherical and about 16 ft. diameter. Hard by is the first blowing engine erected at these works, and perhaps one of the earliest used anywhere, in appearance not unlike many now at work. Near it are a smithy still used; a foundry capable of turning out castings up to 25 tons in weight; and another puddling forge, containing seventeen furnaces, and a 16-inch puddle-train driven by a water-wheel of 36½ ft. diameter, 10 ft. wide, and 58 horse-power.

Rhymney Iron Works

Rhymney Iron Works

The first furnace of these works was erected about eighty years ago near Rhymney Bridge, where they were carried on until they were removed to their present site, about twenty-four miles from Cardiff: the river Rhymney, which here forms the boundary between England and Wales, running through the middle of the premises. The works and the eight collieries belonging to them find employment for a staff consisting of about four thousand persons.

There are four pits and two drifts in the immediate neighbourhood of the works, three pits being on the Bute or Glamorgan side, and the two drifts and one pit on the Rhymney or Monmouthshire side. There are also two pits producing bituminous coal at distances of about 4½ and 7 miles. All these collieries have underground haulages, the engines in all cases fixed on the surface. The two drifts and one of the collieries on the Glamorgan side are worked on the endless-rope system, while the five remaining pits have the tail-rope system. Where curves are numerous and gradients variable and steep, the tail rope is found most effective; whilst with long lengths of straight roads and easy gradients the endless rope gives excellent results. At the Barran pit, the farthest from the works, there is extensive underground pumping carried on. The pumps, which are a pair of Pearn's quadruple-acting fly-wheel pumps, with a capacity of 25,000 gallons per hour, are at the bottom of a drift about 1000 yards from the pit, and are driven by compressed air. The air-compressing engine is on the surface, and its air-cylinder is fitted with Walker's valves. The small coal from these collieries, used for coking purposes, is convoyed to washing machines in the immediate vicinity of the works. There are three of these machines, two on the plunger principle, and one on the open-trough plan. Two of them have rotary screens with travelling bands for cleaning the rubble, which is then crushed and usually mixed with the washed coal.

On the Monmouth side of the river are blocks of coke ovens on the hillside, on a level with the original charging platforms of the blast furnaces, but below the line of rails upon which the coal for coking is delivered, so that the coal can be easily discharged from the wagons into the bunkers from which the ovens are supplied. The principal block consists of seventy-two Coppee ovens, along the top of which run three lines of rails for discharging the hopper trams into the openings in the top of the ovens. The ovens are emptied by a steam pusher. There is also a block of thirty-six ordinary ovens of recent construction, with fifty-one more of an older date. The waste gases from the Coppee and the block of thirty-six ovens are conveyed to a range of ten boilers, which supply steam to the furnace blowing-engines; four of the boilers are heated entirely from the coke ovens, four entirely by the furnace gases, and the two remaining boilers from the ovens and furnaces combined. In a second range of six boilers, heated by the furnace gases, provision is made for burning coal in the event of the gas being insufficient or the furnaces stopped or blown out.

The two blowing engines are of the usual beam type. The first is a condensing engine with steam cylinder 52½ ins. diameter, blowing cylinder 104 ins. diameter, and both 10 ft. stroke. The second engine is non-condensing, having a 50-inch steam cylinder, and 80-inch blowing cylinder, both with 12 ft. stroke; a second blowing cylinder of 72 ins. diameter with 6 ft. stroke has recently been added after the engine had worked some time, when a greater volume of blast was found necessary. The blast-pressure averages about 4 lbs. per sq. inch.

The blast furnaces on the Monmouthshire side of the river are three in number, rectangular in form of outer structure, close-topped, and of the old-fashioned solid masonry build so common in South Wales. Their original height, when used for producing forge-pig, was 42 ft.; but for the purpose of smelting Bessemer pig it has been necessary to raise them 13 ft. The materials are elevated to the new landing by two steam lifts, having inverted cylinders supported by iron columns, their piston-rods being attached direct to the cages. Eighteen cast-iron spiral stoves are placed beside the furnaces. In front of the furnaces is a subway, along which runs a railway for conveying the molten metal direct from the blast-furnaces to the Bessemer works close by. The railway passes four iron-melting cupolas, which are blown by a couple of No. 7 Roots' blowers, and are used for melting the iron made at any time when the Bessemer works may be stopped, and also for working up scrap in conjunction with pig iron.

In the Bessemer department are two pits, the first having three converters, two of which are placed side by side, and the third very nearly at right angles to them. The metal is brought in an ordinary foundry tipping-ladle on a carriage from the furnaces, on the level of the converter-house floor. The ladle is lifted for tipping into the converters by a hydraulic charging crane, which also charges the spiegel, and after the blow transfers the metal to the casting crane. This arrangement has proved very successful in the manufacture of steel for tin-plate bars, as by tipping the product into a second ladle after being received from the converter a very thorough mixture of the ferro-manganese is obtained. Three ingot-cranes are arranged around the casting-pit. The second pit has two converters placed side by side, and the metal is brought in a ladle tipping on its carriage upon a platform in front of and on a level with the converters when in position to be charged. The spiegel is charged in the same way from a small ladle running on a narrow-gauge railway. The charging crane is thus dispensed with. A casting crane, two ingot-cranes, and a ladle-crane, complete the equipment of this pit. All the ingot-cranes, the casting-cranes, and the charging-crane at these works have Walker's balanced rams, by which a most important saving is made of water under pressure, as may be noticed when comparing the limited extent of pumping power at these works with the number of hydraulic machines worked. The converter-house, machinery, vessels, cranes, ladles, cupolas, &c., were made by Messrs. Tannett Walker and Co. The largest make of Bessemer steel in one week at these works has been 3170 tons.

The pair of converter blowing-engines, by Messrs. Galloway, are vertical direct-acting, with steam cylinders 45 ins. diameter, blowing cylinders 54 ins., and 5 ft. stroke, the flywheel being driven by a return connecting-rod. The maximum blast-pressure is 25 lbs. per sq. inch. A pair of auxiliary blowing engines of the same kind, and by the same makers, have steam cylinders 30 ins. diameter, air cylinders 40 ins., and 4 ft. stroke, delivering into the same blast-main as the larger engines. Both pairs of engines are non-condensing. Between them are two pairs of horizontal hydraulic engines, also by Messrs. Galloway, with steam cylinders 16 ins. diameter, plungers 4¼ and 6 ins. diameter, and stroke of 15 ins.; one half only of the suction is discharged from the pumps into the hydraulic main at each stroke, thus equalising the work on the engines. The working hydraulic pressure is 600 lbs. per sq. inch. The accumulator ram is 24 ins. diameter, with 14 ft. stroke. These hydraulic and blowing engines are supplied with steam from a range of ten boilers, six of which are by Messrs. Daniel Adamson and Co., and four by Messrs. Galloway. Bottom stoves and ganister sheds complete the Bessemer plant.

The principal rolling mill is situated at a little distance below the Bessemer works. The cogging mill has a pair of rolls 30 ins. diameter, and is driven direct by an inverted-cylinder engine, with cylinder 50 ins. diameter by 4 ft. stroke, and a flywheel of 72 tons weight and 28 ft. diameter, the ring being all cast in one piece. This engine as well as the whole of the mill was originally laid down for plate-rolling about twenty years ago; and the present modern machinery for steel-rail rolling was erected after the completion of the Bessemer plant. This mill is reversed by the three mitre-wheel reversing gear originally used, which has been retained, the clutches being moved by steam power. From the cogging mill the blooms are conveyed upon live rollers to a powerful guillotine shears, where they are cut to the required length. They are then reheated, and roughed down in a 26-inch roughing mill, driven by a pair of 60-inch cylinder non-condensing engines of 4 ft. stroke. Originally this was a single engine and a duplicate of the 50-inch now driving the cogging rolls, but without the reversing gear. To adapt it to its present use the flywheel was removed, and the vertical 50-inch cylinder was replaced by a 60-inch; and to convert it into a reversing engine a horizontal cylinder was added, with its connecting-rod working on the same crank-pin as the vertical; a single-bow crank thus serves for both cylinders. This arrangement could not be very well carried out without adopting Joy's valve-gear to simplify the construction; and the whole has been found to work very satisfactorily. The cylinders, connecting-rods, and all other new parts were made by Messrs. Tannett Walker and Co.

From the roughing mill the bar is carried by mechanism to the 24-inch finishing mill, which is driven by a pair of horizontal engines of foreign make, with 40-inch cylinders and 4 ft. stroke. The pinions have helical teeth. This engine works with 80 lbs. steam pressure, while the others work at 40 to 45 lbs. The roughing engine and the finishing engine are so arranged that either of them can drive both mills if necessary, in case of breakdown or any cause requiring the stoppage of one or other. From the finishing mill the bars are conveyed on live rollers to the saws, where they are cut into three, four, or five lengths, as may be required: From the saws they are carried by mechanical appliances along a hot-bank about 200 ft. long to the presses. The machinery for the rail-carrying appliances, and also the main length of live rollers, were made by Messrs. Joshua Buckton and Co. After straightening, the rails are conveyed by another skid to the measuring benches, where they are sorted and forwarded to the rail-ending machines, of which there are two double and two single, by Messrs. Buckton, or to the drilling machines as may be required; of these latter, part were made by Messrs. Craven, and the remainder by Messrs. Buckton. At night the mill is illuminated, where necessary, by the Brush electric light. Over 1800 tons of light rails have been made in this mill in one week.

On the Glamorganshire or Bute side of the river are six furnaces, two only being now in blast; these are interesting examples of old appliances skilfully turned to modern uses. Built in 1835, in the old solid masonry style, they have had their original height of 45 ft. raised to 60 ft.; at the same time the bottom arrangements have been altered so as to enable a higher temperature of blast to be used than could be obtained from the old cast-iron stoves. Each furnace has six tuyeres. Four Whitwell stoves of 65 ft. height and 22 ft. diameter heat the blast for the two furnaces. There are three blowing engines, one of which has a 56-inch steam cylinder and 120-inch blowing cylinder, with 8 ft. stroke; and another has a 60-inch steam cylinder and 120-inch blowing cylinder, with 8 ft. stroke; these two engines are usually coupled, but at present one only is worked. In an adjoining house works the third engine, with a 38-inch steam cylinder, 100-inch blowing cylinder, and 8 ft. stroke, which discharges its blast into the same main as the others. The blast pressure is 4½ lbs. per sq. inch. At the back of these furnaces is a block of eighty-six Coppee coke ovens, whose waste gases are used under the boilers supplying steam to the blowing engines. Several other blocks of coke ovens of the usual construction lie in the immediate neighbourhood of the furnace tops. Near the furnaces is an old rail-mill, now used for light steel-rails and fish-plates; it comprises a small compact 30-inch blooming mill driven by a pair of 25-inch reversing engines, geared to mill shaft, with live rollers complete; all made on the premises. A powerful guillotine by Messrs. Buckton cuts the blooms to lengths. The rolling mills are driven by a 48-inch cylinder beam-engine with 8 ft. stroke, geared to the mill shaft. Saws, presses, punching, straightening, and grinding machines for fish-plates and rails lie close at hand. On the Glamorgan side also are the machine shops, forge, pattern shop, erecting shop, foundry and railway wagon yard; and about three quarters of a mile up the valley are extensive brickworks with hydraulic machines for making tuyeres, runner-bricks &c., for the Bessemer works, and also grinding mills and stone-breaker for the manufacture of ganister for the same uses, all the grey and black ganister being made at the works.

Ebbw Vale Iron Works

Ebbw Vale Ironworks

These works, commenced more than a century ago by Jeremiah Homfray, who came into South Wales from Staffordshire, have been augmented by successive additions, until their original site has now been extended to 5,000 acres; and the total area of properties owned by the company, including those at Abersychan, Pontypool, and Abercarn, amounts to 10,930 acres. In 1883 the total output from the four collieries at Ebbw Vale and those at Abersychan and Pontypool was 1,486,000 tons; the coke made was over 273,000 tons, the coking plant being equal to a production of 340,000 tons per annum; and nearly 6,000,000 bricks were made. The year's production of pig iron and spiegel-eisen was 212,412 tons; the finished iron and steel reached 131,780 tons, including 11,120 tons of iron bars, angles, and fish-plates made at Ebbw Vale, 116,572 tons of steel rails, bars, and fish-plates also made there, and 4,088 tons of coke-bars and sheets made at Pontypool. The castings made were 10,997 tons at Ebbw Vale, and 581 tons at Pontypool.

The Ebbw Vale Works extend from north to south along the banks of the River Ebbw. At the northern or upper end are the four Ebbw Vale blast-furnaces, and at the southern or lower end the more recently erected Victoria furnaces.

The four Ebbw Vale furnaces are of modern build, and all are 60 ft. high, hooped with iron bands. Nos. 1 and 2 are 16 ft. diameter at the boshes, 7½ ft. across the hearth, and 10 ft. at the throat; Nos. 3 and 4 are 18 ins. larger across the boshes. There are four tuyeres in each except No. 3, which has five tuyeres equally spaced, and a dry-rammed ganister hearth, said to give good results. Of the three blowing engines for these furnaces, two erected about five years ago by the Coalbrookdale Iron Company are condensing beam-engines, having steam cylinders 45 ins. diameter, blowing cylinders 90 ins., and 6 ft. stroke. The pressure of blast is 4 lbs. per square inch. The steam cylinders are jacketed with the exhaust steam, which is discharged into a double casing surrounding them. The valves are double-beat, and are worked by roller gear; there is also an expansion-valve giving a cut-off at about half-stroke. Steam is supplied by a range of fourteen Cornish boilers 35 ft. long and 7 ft. diameter, with flue 3½ ft. diameter. They are all fired with the waste gases from the furnaces, but can if necessary be fired with coal. The third blowing engine is also a beam engine, with steam cylinder 72 ins. diameter, blowing cylinder 144 ins., and 12 ft. stroke. The flywheel is 30 ft. diameter, weighs 90 tons, and makes 12 revolutions per minute. This engine was started about eighteen years ago, and on the second day of running the cast-iron crank broke; one of wrought iron was then substituted, and the engine ran very well until about five years ago, when the crank-shaft broke short off in the journal at the crank end. A crank-shaft and crank-pin of Whitworth fluid-compressed steel were then fitted, which are at present in use in conjunction with the former wrought-iron crank. The diameter of the crank-shaft in the bearings at the crank-end is 20 ins., and the length 3 ft., the total length being 15 ft. 2 ins.; the shaft is square where the flywheel is blocked on. The air valves are horizontal, with balance weights, and the blast is delivered into the same main as from the two other engines. Steam is supplied from a range of four Cornish boilers, 40 ft. long and 7 ft. diameter, with a 4-ft. flue and six Galloway tubes in each. They are all gas-fired, no provision being made for coal. Near them, and convenient to the railway along which the Bessemer ladle is brought from the furnaces, are two cupolas, used for assisting the furnaces when enough iron is not got from them, and for working up pig made on Saturdays or Sundays. At the back of the furnaces are five Cowper stoves, 24 ft. diameter and 47 ft. high, all connected with one hot-blast main. These stoves supply only Nos. 1 and 2 furnaces, the other two furnaces being served by fifteen ordinary cast-iron pipe-stoves.

On a higher level at the rear of the furnaces are stored the ore and limestone, which with the coke are raised 16 ft. to the charging platform by means of four direct-acting steam-lifts with cylinders underneath. Still higher on the hillside are two blocks of 33 and 34 coke ovens, from which it is intended to collect the waste gases for heating the boilers. On the lower ground is the truck-repairing and general carpenter's shop, where the 3,500 trucks belonging to the works are kept in proper order, and other wood-working is carried on; also the locomotive repairing shed for the 32 locomotives, and smithy and fitting shop with all necessary tools, and travelling steam jib-cranes for shifting the work.

The Bessemer steel works are situated about halfway down the railway from the Ebbw Vale to the Victoria furnaces. Here is the roll-turning shop containing eight lathes, each of which will take rolls up to 12 tons weight and 9 ft. length; overhead is a steam travelling crane which will lift 20 tons. In the steel works are three pits, each with two converters placed opposite to each other. The most modern pit is 17½ ft. radius, and has a pair of 10-ton converters lined with silica bricks. Each is blown by nineteen tuyeres, which are pierced with eight ½-inch holes, in place of the sixteen smaller holes used formerly, the larger holes being found to answer better. The two other pits are of the old deep kind, and have each two 8-ton converters. Of the two pairs of blowing engines, one by Messrs. Daniel Adamson and Co. is vertical direct-acting, having 40-inch steam cylinders with 54-inch blast cylinders and 5 ft. stroke. The pressure of blast is 25 lbs. per square inch. A Bulkley condenser is attached, and is used when water is very plentiful. The other pair of engines, by Messrs. W. and J. Galloway and Sons, are horizontal, having 36-inch steam cylinders, 48-inch blast cylinders, and 5 ft. stroke. They are non-condensing, the exhaust steam being taken to heat the feed-water. Both these pairs of engines deliver into the same blast-main, and take steam from the same boilers. Close by are three pairs of horizontal hydraulic pumping engines by Sir W. G. Armstrong and Co., for working the Bessemer plant and the rail mills; their steam cylinders are 18 ins. diameter, rams 4½ ins., stroke 2 ft., and water-pressure 450 lbs. per square inch.

In the rolling mills is a pair of horizontal blooming engines by Messrs. W. and J. Galloway and Sons, geared 3 to 1; the cylinders are 36 ins. diameter with 4½ ft. stroke. One of Messrs. Hathorn Davey and Co.'s separate condensers is used, with a differential pump. The engines drive two trains of 36-inch rolls, one on each side. The rolling-mill train, 30-inch centres, is driven by a pair of vertical engines geared 1½ to 1, cylinders 50 ins. diameter and 4 ft. stroke. The heating furnaces, eight in number and fired with gas, are of considerable depth, and are charged on each side; hydraulic gear is used for pulling out. The gas producers are in six blocks of four fires each. The boilers supplying the steel works are thirty in number, all fired with coal. Fifteen made by Messrs. Daniel Adamson and Co. are 30 ft. long and 7 ft. diameter, containing one flue of 3 ft. 10 ins. diameter and two cross tubes. Six are Galloway boilers of the same length and diameter. Nine are by the Coalbrookdale Company, and are 34 ft. long and 7 ft. diameter, having two flues 2½ ft. diameter; these nine are fired underneath, the others being internally fired.

To provide against drought, the water which has been used for boilers, condensers, water-tuyeres, and coal-washing machinery, is returned through a height of about 225 ft. and a distance of about three quarters of a mile to a small reservoir above the Ebbw Vale furnaces. Two pumping engines are employed for this purpose one is a Cornish engine with 60-inch strain cylinder, 17-inch plunger, and 6½ ft. stroke; the other has a 40-inch steam cylinder with 4 ft. stroke, and is geared 4 to 1 to the crank-shaft, which works too pumps with 12-inch barrels and 6 ft. stroke.

The Victoria blast-furnaces are two of 60 ft. height, 20 ft. diameter at boshes, 8 ft. at hearth, and 13 ft. at top. One has a fire-brick hearth, and the other is rammed with dry ganister; both are hooped with iron, and have seven tuyeres. Two more furnaces are about to be built. The two blowing engines, by Messrs. Kitson and Co., have vertical steam cylinders of 50 ins. diameter, over air cylinders of 100 ins. diameter, the stroke being 5 ft.; they have piston steam-valves and circular blast-valves. The blast-pressure is 5 lbs. per sq. inch. The foundations are already laid for two more engines of the same kind. For heating the blast there are six Cowper stoves, 20 ft. diameter and 60 ft. high, ranged behind the furnaces. In the erection of these regenerative stoves the dome of the stove was first riveted together on the brick base, and was then lifted high enough for riveting to it the uppermost circle of shell-plates of ⅜ inch thickness. This portion was next lifted high enough for another circular tier of plates; and so on, until the full height of the stove was attained. The lifting was done by means of a wood derrick, with a couple of geared crab-winches worked by hand; and when the shell was built up to half the full height, two more crab-winches were added for completing it. The brick lining was afterwards built in from the bottom upwards by means of a movable platform inside, with a trap-door in it through which the materials were hoisted in a tub by a small steam-winch. The platform itself was also lifted by the winch in successive stages, as the lining rose; and rested on the top of the lining during the intervals while the winch was winding materials. The regenerative brickwork and flame-flue were built in after the lining was completed.

Adjoining is a range of ten steel boilers by Messrs. Daniel Adamson and Co., 30 ft. long and 7 ft. diameter, with 3-ft. flues and six cross tubes; all are fired with gas, and fed by a Cameron pump. Two Berryman feed-water heaters take the exhaust steam from the engines. Two of Messrs. Hathorn Davey and Co.'s horizontal pumps with differential gear return the tuyere water to a reservoir. All the materials for these blast-furnaces are stored at the tapping level, being lifted on steam hoists with wire rope by a pair of winding engines with 12-inch cylinders and 20 ins. stroke, geared 5 to 1.

In the foundry are made rolls and all necessary castings up to 30 tons. On higher ground are seven blocks of coke ovens, six of them on the Coppee principle; their waste gases heat nine boilers, which supply steam for two coal-washing machines on the plunger plan, and also for the engines at the mouths of two pits close by, and for a pumping engine which returns the coal-washing water to a tank on the top of the machine. There are three steam pushers-out for discharging the Coppee ovens.

The bar mill contains a 12-inch train, driven by an engine with cylinders 24 ins. diameter by 30 ins. stroke, making 70 revolutions per minute; and an 8-inch guide-mill, having an engine with 21-inch cylinders by 20 ins. stroke, making 112 revolutions per minute. Both trains are driven by cotton rope from the fly-wheel pulleys of 14 ft. diameter and 2 ft. width, which have eight grooves; the driven pulley on the 12-inch train is 7½ ft. diameter, whilst that on the 8-inch train is 6½ ft. The distance between the centres of the pulleys is 30 ft., and ropes 1¾ inch diameter are used. An 18-inch train for rolling fish-bars and large iron and steel bars up to 3½ ins. or 4 ins. is driven by a pair of horizontal engines with 30-inch cylinders and 4½ ft. stroke, geared 3 to 1. Seven boilers fired by the waste heat from the heating furnaces are each 24 ft. long by 7 ft. diameter, having two flues of 2½ ft. diameter, one furnace delivering into each flue.

In the steel-rolling mills a new 36-inch blooming mill is now being erected, with a pair of engines by Messrs. Galloway and Son, having cylinders 36 ins. diameter by 4½ ft. stroke, geared 3 to 1. This mill has helical pinions, and the top rollers are balanced with hydraulic cylinders; hydraulic power is supplied for passing the bloom, and also for turning over. The adjoining mill-train is worked by an old beam-engine with a horizontal engine coupled to it, geared 2½ to 1. There are twelve boilers, 24 ft. long by 7 ft. diameter, with two flues 2½ ft. diameter, which are heated by waste gases from the heating furnaces, one furnace delivering into each flue; there are also fifteen similar boilers fired with coal.

Abercarn Tin-plate Works

Abercarn Tinplate Works

These extensive tin-plate works are in two portions, old and new, connected with the railway and with each other by sidings. The old portion contains the usual machinery for the rolling and re-rolling and shearing of the iron plates; with the appliances for pickling, cleaning, and dipping them, first in boiling palm oil and afterwards in the baths of molten tin: Adjoining are the sulphuric acid works. The new portion of the works, at a distance of a quarter of a mile, contains the same machinery and appliances, but of more modern make, with packing shop and extensive warehouse for storing the boxes of tin-plates.

Works in Newport opened for visits by the members


  • Alexandra Dock.
  • Cambrian Foundry and Engineering Works.
  • Mordey Carney and Co.'s Shipbuilding Works and Dry Docks.
  • Emlyn Foundry and Machinery Stores.


The dock was opened in April 1875, Mr. James Abernethy and Mr. Alexander Bassett being the engineers. The present engineer is Mr. William Stopford Smyth. The dock is 2500 ft. long, 500 ft. wide, and has an area of 28¾ acres. The entrance lock, on the right bank of the River Usk, is 350 ft. long and 65 ft. wide, with 36 ft. of water on the outer sill at average spring tides and 25¾ ft. at average neap tides. There are three pairs of timber working-gates, and one pair of iron sea-gates, all worked by hydraulic power. The inner sill is 8 ft. above the outer sill, and the ordinary level of water in the dock is 30 ft. above the dock sill. There are three Siemens electric lights at the entrance, each 34 ft. high and of 6000 candle-power, worked by two 8-H.P. Otto gas-engines. Vessels are thus enabled to enter the dock as freely by night as by day.

The dry dock is entered from the wet dock. The length is 515 ft. on the blocks, and the width 74 ft. between the copings. The gates are 50 ft. wide, with 20 ft. of water on the sill. The dock is emptied by a culvert discharging into the river. Alongside the dry dock are the fitting and repairing shops, and the foundry, with the necessary machinery for all kinds of repairs to vessels and engines.

A timber float of 10 acres area and 8 ft. depth is connected with the wet dock by a canal; and there are in addition about 160 acres of land for general purposes, and 93 acres for depositing ballast.

The railways and sidings immediately in connection with the dock are 27 miles in length. The coal sidings are laid out on the gravitation principle, so that the loaded wagons run down from the high-level sidings to the quay, where they are weighed, and are then taken by the hydraulic capstans to the hydraulic hoists, raised to the required height, tipped by hydraulic power, and transferred to railway viaducts which cross the quay and lead them by gravitation to the sidings for empties. The lines for loaded wagons from the high-level sidings to the quay are laid in sets of twos and threes, to allow wagons with different kinds of coal to be tipped in rotation, thus ensuring the due mixture of coal, as may be required. Wood's safety railway-chair is in use on the dock lines.

There are eight hydraulic coal-hoists with their accompanying sorting sidings, weigh-bridges, viaducts, and sidings for empties. Vessels are discharged by hydraulic cranes of from two to three tons power. Of these there are seven movable and six fixed. There are also five steam-cranes of from two to ten tons power.

The hydraulic power for the gates, hoists, capstans, and cranes, is furnished by three steam pumping-engines of 220 H.P. collectively, with seven boilers and three accumulators. Two of the accumulators are 17 ins. diameter and 17 ft. lift; the third is 20 ins. diameter and 23½ ft. lift. The traffic is worked by thirteen locomotives. A powerful steam hopper-barge, fitted with Priestman's crane and bucket, removes the silt in the dock and acts as a tug-boat.

For the extension, or South Dock, 213 acres of land have been acquired, with 100 acres adjoining for ballast purposes.

From 700 to 800 men are engaged about the dock, including the officials and the men loading and discharging the vessels.

The principal exports are coal and steel; the imports are iron-ore, pig-iron, timber, pitwood, and sleepers. The coal shipped in 1876 was somewhat less that half a million tons; in 1883 it exceeded 1¾ million tons; while the total exports and imports in 1883 amounted to nearly 2,400,000 tons. The number of vessels that entered the dock in 1883 was 1848, of nearly 1,100,000 net register tonnage.

Cambrian Foundry and Engineering Works

Cambrian Foundry and Engineering Works

These works were established in 1849, and are now employing 300 hands, and are capable of turning out 400 tons of castings per week. They are situated on the right bank of the River Usk, adjoining the Newport Docks, and have a river frontage of nearly a quarter of a mile. On the opposite side of the river are other works, where the founder of the firm (the late Mr. Thomas Spittle) commenced iron-shipbuilding a few years ago; but this branch of the business was discontinued after the construction of two ships, and the shipyard has since been utilised for the building of locomotives and for ordinary engineering work.

Mordey Carney and Co

Mordey, Carney and Co

These works, covering about five acres, were leased from the Newport Dry Dock Co. in 1881 by the present proprietors, who have since made considerable additions to them. They consist of the Alice dock, 300 ft. long and 46½ ft. wide, and the Edith dock, 220 ft. long and 36 ft. wide, with extensive smiths', joiners', and blockmakers' shops, sawmills, shipbuilding sheds, &c., well supplied with all the machinery necessary for the construction of wood and iron ships, marine engines, &c. About 200 men are at present employed. A pair of surface-condensing engines of 40 H.P., specially designed for small steamers, were in course of construction, and nearly completed at the time of the Members' visit to Newport.

Severn Tunnel Works

Severn Tunnel

The Act for the construction of the tunnel was obtained in 1872, between which date and October 1879 the Great Western Railway Co. sank five shafts and drove about three miles of headings to prove the nature of the ground. The headings under the river were within 130 yards of meeting, when the works were drowned out by the sudden breaking in of a large land spring on the Welsh side, which completely filled them. The contract was then taken by Mr. Thomas A. Walker, who erected extra pumps, and by December 1880 succeeded in draining the works; and from that time to the present the permanent work of the tunnel has progressed steadily, with the exception of a few hindrances incidental to an undertaking of this magnitude.

The total length of the tunnel when completed will be 7664 yards or about 4⅓ miles, of which about 2¼ miles' length is under the actual tidal estuary of the Severn, crossing it about 3 miles below the confluence of the Wye. About 5300 yards of the tunnel are wholly completed, and 1860 yards are about half done. The whole length of the tunnel has already been opened through from end to end, excepting only a short length in the land portion on the Monmouthshire shore, where in October 1879 the land spring was struck, discharging some 6,000 gallons per minute. In October 1883 the same spring was again tapped at a lower level, giving on this occasion 20,000 gallons per minute; after three weeks' continuous pumping the water in the shaft was lowered sufficiently to show that after the first rush the pumping power was equal to the inflow. Two dams of heavy brickwork have here been constructed across the tunnel, about 100 ft. apart, for shutting off the spring from the remainder of the workings; and have been fitted with sluices for regulating the inflow to the pumps. A curved heading is now being driven round one end of the dams, for connecting the two portions of the tunnel; and as soon as it taps the spring, the inflow here occurring will be overpowered by the pumps, so as to allow of removing the dams and completing this short gap of the tunnel. Hitherto the quantity of water raised at the Sudbrook pumping station adjoining the dams, by three Cornish and two Bull engines, has been about 11,000 gallons per minute; and the addition of four more large Cornish engines, made by Messrs. Harvey of Hayle, will bring up the aggregate pumping capacity at this station to about double that quantity; the pumping power will then be sufficient to deal quickly with the greatest flow of the spring. The total capacity of the nineteen pumping engines employed on the tunnel works is over 30,000 gallons per minute.

The tunnel is for a double line of way, and is lined with brickwork varying from 2¼ ft. to 3 ft. in thickness, built of vitrified bricks which are set in Portland cement mortar. The roof is a semicircle of 13 ft. radius inside, and the side walls are curved, with invert at bottom; when filled in up to formation level for the rails the open area will be 441 square feet. The tunnel dips from both shores to a point beneath the deepest part of the river bed; and underneath the Monmouthshire half are two driftways, one a 5 ft. barrel lined with brickwork, for drainage to the pumping station at Sudbrook, and the other a 9-ft. barrel for ventilation. The whole of the workings are most efficiently ventilated by a Guibal fan at the same station, 18 ft. diameter and 7 ft. wide, driven by a 10-H.P. engine. Electric lights of 1000 candle-power are suspended about every 220 yards along the tunnel, and are used also above ground. The cutting forming the approach to the tunnel at the Monmouthshire end is about a mile long, and 60 ft. deep at the tunnel mouth; about tune-thirds of it are completed. At the Gloucestershire end there is about a mile and a quarter of cutting, 60 ft. deep at the tunnel mouth; four steam navvies are at work here night and day, and more than half the material has already been removed. As both these cuttings lie in the marsh lands adjoining the Severn, heavy sea-banks have been tipped to prevent high spring tides from entering the tunnel.

It is estimated that the whole of the works will be completed within twelve months hence. Sir John Hawkshaw is chief engineer, and with him is associated Mr. Charles Richardson of Bristol, who first laid out the line of the tunnel and prepared the parliamentary plans. The works are being carried out under the superintendence of Mr. A. G. Luke as resident engineer for Sir John Hawkshaw.

See Also


Sources of Information