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British Industrial History

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Hirwaun Ironworks

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One of 3 early ironworks in the Cynon valley - the others being Abernant Iron Co and Aberdare Iron Co between Abernant and Hirwaun.

Hirwaun had the oldest furnace but production was not continuous. Hirwaun produced bar iron whereas the other two ironworks produced pig iron.

1757 Founded by John Wilkins (1713-1784) and Thomas Maybery[1]

1780 Anthony Bacon acquired the lease of the Hirwaun Ironworks. Richard Hill was general manager.

1786 Works leased to Samuel Glover

1786 On the death of Anthony Bacon, the Hirwaun furnace and collieries became the joint property of his sons Anthony II and Thomas.

1799 the sons of Anthony Bacon took over the interest of Mr. Glover in the Hirwaun works; Anthony II sold his interests to Thomas.

By 1803 Jeremiah Homfray had become a partner in the Hirwaun works [2]but left soon after.

1803 Thomas Bacon sold his share to Richard Hill for £3,000 (check - does this refer to Plymouth?).

1804 the Neath Canal Company agreed the final route for a tramroad connecting to the Aberdare Iron Company and the Hirwaun Company; agreement witnessed by Richard Fothergill

1805 a new rolling mill was added with capacity of 50-60 tons of bar per week[3].

1806 Richard Hill died, leaving his estate to his widow, Mary, his three sons, Richard II, John and Anthony (1784 - 1862) and his two daughters, Elizabeth and Mary.

1812 Hirwaun was bankrupt (sic)[4]

1817 'TO be LET, the HIRWAIN IRON-WORKS, together with the Veins of Coal and Iron-stone under Hirwain-common: these works are situate the borders of the counties of Glamorgan and Brecon, and the Tram-road, which connects the Aberdare and Neath Canals, thereby opening easy communications with the ports of Neath and Cardiff, and are distant from the former 19, and latter 25 miles; the works consist of two furnaces with fineries, blown by a steam-engine on Bolton and Watts’s principle, and the rolling-mills, &c. moved by steam-engine on Trevethick’s principle, with the necessary and balling furnaces; there are agents’ houses, workmens’ houses, storehouses, &c., and in short, all buildings necessary for making bar-iron ; the materials are conveyed to the Works by private tram-roads, and are to be obtained cheap and in any quantity: these Works, which are capable of making from 4 to 5000 tons of bar-iron yearly, offer the peculiar advantage of being put into action almost immediately, with comparitively very small advance of capital: there is Farm of about 60 acres to Let with the Works, on which is good roomy Dwelling-house. For Particulars apply to Messrs. Vizard and Blower, Lincoln’s-inn-fields; Messrs. Powell, Jones, and Powell, Brecon; and Mr. J. Watkins, on the spot, will show the Premises.'[5]

1819 The Crawshay family took on the works.

By 1824 there were 4 furnaces with blowing engine, cast houses and forge (the furnaces survive with charging bank)[6].

1831 Henry Crawshay was appointed manager by his father, William[7]

1859 Hirwaun ironworks closed[8]

1905 Others owners attempted to keep the site going but it continued to decline and was finally abandoned in 1905[9].


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Publications of the South Wales Record Society, No. 4, Diary of John Bird 1987 Biographical notes [1]
  2. Morgannwg, Vol. 40 1996 The Tappendens and the Abernant Iron Company, 1801-1815 [2]
  3. Morgannwg, Vol. 40 1996 The Tappendens and the Abernant Iron Company, 1801-1815 [3]
  4. Morgannwg, Vol. 40 1996 The Tappendens and the Abernant Iron Company, 1801-1815 [4]
  5. Public Ledger and Daily Advertiser - Monday 20 October 1817
  6. Hirwaun Ironworks [5]
  7. Gower, Vol. 45, 1994: The Crawshays at Langland [6]
  8. Morgannwg, Vol. 12 1968, The Dowlais Lease, 1748-1900 [7]
  9. Heritage Trails [8]
  • Welsh Biography Online [9]