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British Industrial History

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Redbrook Tinplate Co

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1848. Gregg's view of the tinplate works.

of Redbrook, Forest of Dean, Glos.

of Pontnewydd, Monmouthshire (now Gwent), Wales


Note: There were old-established copper works and tinplate works in both Upper and Lower Redbrook. See Redbrook industries. The longest survivor was the Redbrook Tinplate Co's works at Lower Redbrook.

1805 The tenants of the Redbrook Ironworks, James Davies and Co., were planning to establish tinplate works at Redbrook[1]

By 1808 The riverside site was in use as tinplate works[2].

1870 The works were under the firm Redbrook Tinplate Co.

1883 The company was re-formed under directors of the firm of Coventry and Robinson.

1887 The Redbrook Tinplate Co built its workers an institute at the Redbrook, Glos., site, including a meeting room and billiard room[3].

In the early days of the tin-plate industry the energy required to drive the mills was obtained from our rivers, which were harnessed to waterwheels and turbines; and this motive power is still used in a few works, but most mills are now propelled by steam-engines, which have hitherto been considered an essential feature where a large output is contemplated.
A new departure has just been made by the Redbrook Tin-plate Company (Limited) at their Tynewydd Works, Pontnewydd, where a complete plant consisting of mills and rolls, driven by electric motors has been successfully put in operation. On Friday the current, which is supplied by the South Wales Power Distribution Company, was switched on by Mrs. Joseph Coventry, (wife of the chairman of the Redbrook Tin-plate Company) in the presence of the directors and a number of invited guests, when the machinery was subjected to the severe test of everyday working conditions, and gave every indication of being an improvement on any plant previously in use.
Messrs. Richards and Hopkins, of Caerleon, supplied the mills; and the electrial machinery was constructed by Messrs. Siemens Bros. and Co. (Limited) to the specification of Mr. G. M. Stevenson of Cardiff, who has acted as consulting engineer to the Redbrook Tin-plate Company (Limited).'[4]

In the 20th century the tinplate was used in tobacco and confectionery tins, and thicker grades were used for canning.

1937 British Industries Fair Advert for Welsh Tinplate Works. Tinplate and Blackplate. (Engineering/Metals/Quarry, Roads and Mining/Transport Section - Stand No. D.328)

1948 Re-formed again; the works were rebuilt as one large factory. Up to 500 men were employed.

1962 The factory closed.

Additional Information

The following information is extracted from 'The Industrial History of Dean' by C. Hart [5]

Mr James had given up the Redbrook works (Lower Redbrook) in favour of Lydney, and they fell into disuse. Re-started by Benjamin Whitehouse c.1827. A stone culvert was built to bring water from Upper Redbrook to the first pond above the Lower Tinplate Works (this supply remaining in use until 1960).

By 1842 the tinplate works were owned by Philip Jones, and were put up for sale in 1842. In 1848 the stock and some of the equipment were sold.

Dr Hart includes an 1848 'bird's eye view' of the site in 1848, and a list of the plant and equipment remaining at the site in 1855. The works subsequently reopened, and in 1858 the manager was David Griffiths.

The 1848 drawing, by S G Gregg, also appears on an excellent information board in Redbrook, provided by the Wye Valley authorities. The photo above is from this display board.

By 1876, under the Redbrook Tinplate Co., tinplate made using iron smelted with coke had the brand name REDBROOK, while brand LRB applied to charcoal smelted iron.

The works were considerably enlarged by 1878, and were closed by March 1883.

Re-opened in 1884 with Directors J and E Coventry and J C and A F Robinson. Brands: REDBROOK and PENALT for coke-smelted, LRB, REDBROOK and NEWLAND for charcoal.

Closed in winter 1898-9 because of the McKinley tariff. Two of the rolling mills restarted in 1899.

In 1944 mains electricity replaced much coal-fired steam driven eqipment, although oil-fired boilers were used for some steam production. By 1949 a fourth rolling mill was added, and weekly production was 4,350 boxes (note that the old method of production still held sway, as opposed to modern continuous strip production).

Dr Hart states that Redbrook produced the world's thinnest hot rolled steel sheet (0.0025"), which was exported to almost every country.

The works closed on 31 December 1961, and this late date reflects in part the continued production of thin, quality sheet in which the large strip mills could not compete.

1825 Advertisement

'The New Works at Lower Redbrook, near Monmouth, which had lain in a state of neglect since they were given up by Mr. James on his taking to those at Lidney [Lydney], have been put in repair by B. Whitehouse, esq; who has also become the occupier of the Forges at Monmouth.'[6]

1842 Advertisement

A large auction sale of about 2000 acres of land, together with farms and other property, included:-

'Lot 5 Comprises the REDBROOK TIN WORKS, consisting of a good House and Offices, with Rolling mills, Furnaces, Forges, and Machinery, adapted to the manufacture of Tin-plates on extensive scale ; together with about Thirty Acres of good Land, convenient to the Works. The Premises are situate at Lower Redbrook, in the parish of Newland, in the county of Gloucester, about two miles from Monmouth ; are Freehold with the exception of very small portion, which is Leasehold for a term of 93 years, from 1st of December, 1832, nominal rent. The whole is in the occupation of Messrs. Whitehouse, .....'[7]


Practically all evidence of the 'Lower' tinplate works at Redbrook has been cleared away, the site of the tinplate works now being occupied by a housing estate. The only obvious signs of the metallurgical heritage are in the word 'Tinmans' for a street and a group of houses, a few sections of old masonry walls, ponds, and an excellent information board supplied by the Wye Valley authorities. Other evidence of industrial activity is found in the form of distinctive cast copper slag building blocks in various locations.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1]
  2. From: 'Newland', A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 5: Bledisloe Hundred, St. Briavels Hundred, The Forest of Dean (1996), pp. 195-231. [2]
  4. Western Mail - Saturday 28 October 1905
  5. 'The Industrial History of Dean' by Cyril Hart, David & Charles, 1971
  6. Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 2 June 1825
  7. Hereford Times, 21 May 1842
  • [3] British History Online
  • 1937 British Industries Fair Advert pp666 and 667; and p404
  • From: 'Newland', A History of the County of Gloucester: Volume 5: Bledisloe Hundred, St. Briavels Hundred, The Forest of Dean (1996), pp. 195-231. [4].