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British Industrial History

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Lydbrook Ironworks

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General

Late 1600s Paul Foley (c.1645-1699) owned 7 blast furnaces including the Redbrook furnace and two forges at Lydbrook, Gloucestershire.

1762 Richard Reynolds of Bristol (presumably the elder Richard Reynolds), iron master, and John Partridge the Elder, of Ross, ironmaster, and his son John Partridge the Younger, leased the Lydbrook forges as the Reynolds and Partridge partnership (later Harford, Partridge and Co).

1768 A Bristol company, which was probably Partridge and Reynolds, erected a forge near Lydbrook on the site of the Vaughan forge.

By 1788 James Harford (who had replaced Richard Reynolds) and John Partridge were supplying pig iron from the Redbrook, Monmouth and Lydbrook works to Melingriffith, which had been making tin plate since 1774/5.

1794 The Harford partnership gave up the leases of the Lydbrook forges

1798 Lydbrook Tin Plate Works may have been started

1799 'IRON WORKS.
GLOCESTERSHIRE.
TO BE SOLD BY AUCTION, On Thursday the 14th day of March next, at the King's Head Inn, in the town of Monmouth, between the hours of Twelve and One in the forenoon, by virtue of a Writ of Extent agains DAVID TANNER, of the town of Monmouth, Ironmaster, unless before disposed of by private contract, of which the earliest notice will given,
ALL the ESTATE and INTEREST of the said DAVID TANNER, of and in Two FORGES making BAR IRON, called LIDBROOKE FORGES, situate in the parilsh of Ruardean, the county od Glocester, with the appurtenances thereto belonging. And also, of and in a FURNACE for making PIG IRON, and a FORGE, with several Pieces or Parcels of LAND thereto belonging, situate in the the county of Glocester.
The Premises are held under two Leases, granted by the Right Honourable Lord Viscount Gage, .....'[1]

1806 The elder William Thompson purchased three-tenth shares of the Redbrook and Lydbrook Ironworks.

By 1815 it is certain there were tin works in Lydbrook.

1817 William Allaway leased the Lydbrook ironworks which comprised "three forges, rolling and bar mills, and a tin house capable of producing 100-150 boxes of tin plates per week".

By 1820 Allaway was in partnership with James Pearce as Pearce and Allaway.

1834 The iron and tin works at Lydbrook were advertised for auction - all the property was in the possession of Messrs. Pearce and Allaway, as Tenants, under a lease for 14 years from 1 January 1823. See Sale Notice below.

1849 William Allaway remained the lessee until his death in 1849 when his sons took on the running of the works.

1871 Richard Thomas acquired and ran the idle Lydbrook tin plate works in Gloucestershire[2]

1875 Richard Thomas purchased the Lydney works.

1925 Works closed.

1930 Works demolished.

1834 Sale Notice

'Extensive Iron and Tin-Plate Works, and about Twenty-five acres of Land in Gloucestershire, on the borders of Hefordshire. BY MR. GEORGE ROBINS, At the Auction Mart, London, on Thursday, October 23, at twelve o'clock, by direction of the Proprietor (unless previously disposed of by Private Contract, of which due notice will be given) in one or more lots, as shall then be agreed upon.
MOST important and Very eligible FREEHOLD PROPERTY for investment, comprehending THE EXTENSIVE IRON AND TIN-PLATE WORKS AT LYDBROOK, in GLOUCESTERSHIRE, on the confines of the FOREST OF DEAN, and distant about six miles from the market town of Ross, in Herefordshire, With about TWENTY-FIVE ACRES OF LAND, opportunely situate close by. The property intended to be sold includes a powerful Steam Engine, with Rolling Mills, Forges, Machinery, Tin-Houses, Black-smiths' and Carpenters' Shops, Stables, extensive Warehouses, and A RESIDENCE FOR THE AGENT.
The Works are capable of making about three hundred boxes of tin-plates per week with one set of Workmen only, and the produced may be doubled by employing a sufficient number of hands. They are now in the occupation of Messrs. Pearce and Allaway, under a lease, for a lease of which about two years and a half are unexpired, and have been recently improved, and a considerable portion placed on an entirely new construction, close to A CAPITAL RAIL-ROAD, which is in direct communication With THE RIVERS SEVERN AND WYE. The country, it is well known, abounds with Iron Ore, Coal, and Cordwood, and, by means of the river, the Communication with Swansea, Newport, ad Bristol is made easy and certain, while local benefits will not fail to present themselves in various forms and directions, THE GREAT IMPROVEMENTS in the making of Iron lately introduced to the Forest of Dean will, it is believed, by reducing the price of the raw material, add much to the advantages which these works already possess, and under which they have been carried ors so beneficially for many years past, and at a period when so much money is employed, the attention of the capitalist is especially directed to this most satisfactory and encouraging occupation, which, it may be well to observe, under certain wise regulations, will be free from risk and uncertainty. The whole is Freehold. On the same day will be sold THE STOCK OF WORKMEN'S TOOLS, OLD CASTINGS, &C.
Particulars may be had fourteen days antecedent to the sale, at the offices of William Ives, Esq., solicitor to the vendor at Monmouth; and of Messrs. Jenings and Bolton, 4, Elm-Court, Temple, London; at the. Bush and Montague Taverns, at Bristol; the Waterloo Hotel, Liverpool the Hen and Chickens, Birmingham; the BridgewaterArms, Manchester; the Cardiff Arms, Cardiff; the Auction Mart, and at Mr. George ROBINS'S Offices in Covent-Garden. For a view of the property, application may be made to Mr. Pewtner, at Bishop's Wood, near Ross, who will shew it with the permission of the present tenants.' [3]

Final Closure

'LYDBROOK WORKS DISMANTLED - EFFECT OF TRADE DEPRESSION - BIG BLOW FOR VILLAGE. Lydbrook Tinplate Works, once one of the most prosperous works in the Forest and probably the first established there, has come to the end of its career and all that now remains is the shell.

'Lydbrook was a hive of industry in the days when blast furnaces for smelting the iron ore produced in the area, were in evidence. The history of the Lydbrook tinplate works dates back to 1798 and from then onwards the village was famous for its tinplate works. Throughout the succeeding years, the works have been the chief industrial concern of the village, but owing to depression and foreign competition, Messrs. Richard Thomas & Co., have decided to dismantle the works.

'For the past six years the machinery has been kept in perfect order in the hope of improvement till trade which would warrant the re-start of the works but unfortunately this hope has not been realised and the worst has happened to the regret of everyone connected with Lydbrook. This week will see end of the dismantling process, the works have been cleared machinery, mills and rollers, and all that remains standing are the bare walls and chimney stacks to mark the site of the famous Tinplate Works.

'A Bitter Disappointment - "It is a shame," commented Mr. A. T. Tummey, "to think that these once prosperous works will longer operate. No-one can say what the works have actually meant to the village of Lydbrook, but I can assure you that it is a sad day for me and I know the villagers feel it also. There are several who, since the works closed down in 1925, have been hoping against hope that they would re-start and the dismantling process has been a bitter disappointment to these men, many of whom have never been able to obtain regular employment since 1925."

'Mr Tummey, who has occupied the position of mechanical foreman to the Messrs. Richard Thomas and Co., for the past years, has been in charge of the Lydbrook works, keeping the machinery in proper repair during the past six years " have been with Messrs. Richard Thomas and Co., for 52 years.", Mr, Tummey said " I commenced with the firm as a boy and 1 have been connected with the engineering trade since I was 15. It is therefore easy to understand my feelings when I gaze at the present derelict building and recall the days when the works was in full swing and finding employment for between 600 and 700 men."

'Former Output - Mr. Tummey is the last of the employees. During a conversation with our representative, Mr. Tumney explained that the original Tinplate works, which were started at Lydbrook in 1794 had, with the exception of a few stoppages, been working continuously for over 100 years. The works originally belonged to a Mr. Allway, and were purchased by Mr. Richard Thomas in 1871. Lydbrook works were the first to be purchased by Mr. Thomas, and a few years later he purchased the Lydney Tinplate works, which are still thriving. To-day Messrs. Richard Thomas and Co. have many tinplate works in other parts, but owing to trade depression the works at Aberdare, Kilfrew, Cwmfelin, and Cwmbrealla, Swansea, are closed down. Mr Tummey stated that Mr Thomas extended the works, and in 1873 Lydbrook received the gold medal at the Vienna Exhibition. From 1871 until 1913 the works were in full swing, but they were then closed down for six years. They were re opened in 1919. and closed again in 1925. When the works last closed down, about 120 men were employed, receiving wages to the extent of about £400 per week. The works were then consuming 120 tons of steel bars, and were turning out about 2,000 boxes of tinplate per week. Thirty years ago, they found employment for nearly 700 men. and though wages then were much lower, the wages bill averaged from £1,000 to £1,200 per week. When the works closed down, several of the men were transferred to the Lydney works, and at present about 20 men travel daily from Lydbrook to Lydney and back. Most the other men were still unemployed and doing odd jobs whenever possible.' [4]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Gloucester Journal - Monday 18 February 1799
  2. [1] Oxford DNB
  3. Manchester Times, 4th October 1834
  4. Gloucester Citizen, 18 December 1930
  • The development of tin plating at Lydbrook, by Pat Morris, Gloucestershire Society for Industrial Archaeology Journal for 2004 pages 19-30 [2].