Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,173 pages of information and 245,641 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Richard Thomas and Co

From Graces Guide

of South Wales Works, Llanelly, Carmarthenshire, and North Lindsey Works, Scunthorpe

1871 Richard Thomas spent time as the general manager and secretary at the Ynyspenllwch Ironworks before the formation of Richard Thomas and Co to acquire and run the idle Lydbrook tin plate works in Gloucestershire.[1]

1875 Purchased the Lydney works.

1877 Purchased the Lydbrook colliery.

1883 Financial difficulties and eventual liquidation, due mainly to problems of flooding at the colliery.

1884 Relaunched the company with the help of the Barrow Hematite Steel Co with Thomas as managing director of the new concern and his eldest son, Richard Beaumont Thomas, as general manager. Incorporated as a limited company.

1888 he acquired, in conjunction with William Thomas Lewis and others, the Melingriffith Tin Plate Works on the outskirts of Cardiff.

1914 Tinplate Manufacturers, Iron, Steel and Brass Founders. Specialities: Iron, steel and brass castings, chilled mill and cold rolls, sulphuric acid for tinplate making, green copperas (sulphate of iron), coke and charcoal tinplates, tin and terne-coated sheets, Canada plates. [2]

By 1916 the various companies associated with Richard Thomas and Co employed over 11,000 workers and controlled a quarter of the tin plate mills in South Wales.

1917 Took over the Cwmfelin Steel and Tinplate Works.

1923 The South Wales Tinplate Corporation was registered - which represented a selling organisation for: [3]

  • a) Richard Thomas and Co (who own six works in Carmarthenshire);
  • b) Kidwelly Tinplate Co;
  • c) Ashburnham Tinplate Co, Burry Port;
  • d) The Old Castle Iron and Tin Plate Co, Llanelly;
  • e) The Western Tinplate Works, Llanelly.

1923 Largest tinplate makers in the world; owned 14 tinplate works with 111 mills, capacity of 4,500 tinplate and 6,500 tons of steel per week. Working arrangement agreed with Grovesend Steel and Tinplate Co[4] which led to purchase of control of Grovesend[5]

1925 Absorbed the Redbourn Hill Iron and Coal Co of North Lindsey Works, Scunthorpe[6].

1927 Scunthorpe plant consisted of 4 furnaces with a total capacity of 3,500 tons per week[7].

1927 See Aberconway Chapter IV for information on the company and its history.

1927 See Aberconway Chapter XVII for information on the company and its history.

1930 Scunthorpe Works closed due to trade depression[8].

1931 The other 4 works resigned from the South Wales Tinplate Corporation.

1933 Agreement with Whitehead Iron and Steel Co to supply billets from Redbourn works at Scunthorpe to that company's Newport rolling mills; Mr L D Whitehead to join the Richard Thomas and Co board[9].

1933 A jointly-owned company was formed by Whitehead Iron and Steel Co and Richard Thomas and Co called Whitehead Thomas Bar and Strip Co[10]. This company would operate a finishing mill at Redbourn, equipped by transferring the semi-continous mill from Whitehead's Tredegar works[11]

1934 Acquired W. Gilbertson and Co[12]

1936 The company decided upon a huge programme of extension which included the modernisation of the Redbourn Steel Works and the purchase of the Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron, and Coal Company. Sir William Firth, Chairman of Richard Thomas and Co announced that his company had purchased the assets of the Ebbw Vale Steelworks and that the first continuous hot strip mill outside the USA would be located there[13]. However, this put the company in financial difficulties, partly as a result of the collapse of the boom in the steel trade.

The banks came to the aid of the company - control of the company was vested in the hands of a Special Committee of four, with the Governor of the Bank of England as Chairman. Other directors were appointed who were also directors of well-known iron and steel companies.

1937 British Industries Fair Advert for Welsh Tinplate Works. Includes the following: Abercarn Works, Cynon Works; Aberdulais Tinplate Co, Aberdulais, near Neath, Glamorgan; Aber Works, Edlogan Works; Bryn Works; Burry Works, Ely Works; Cardonnel Works; Cilfrew Works, Lydney; Cwmbwria, South Wales Works; Cwmfelin Works; W. Gilbertson and Co, Pontardawe, Glamorgan; Glynbeudy Works; Glanrhyd Works; Melingriffith Co, Melingtiffith Works, Cardiff; Morfa Works; Treforest Works. (Engineering/Metals/Quarry, Roads and Mining/Transport Section - Stand No. D.328). Of Bush House, Aldwych, London, WC2. [14]

1940 Sir William Firth left the Board of Richard Thomas and Co., Ltd. as the result of an irreconcilable difference within the Board.

1945 Despite the opposition of the previous chairman, Sir William Frith, Richard Thomas and Co merged with Baldwins Ltd creating Richard Thomas and Baldwins[15] an organisation of some 27,000 employees.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Oxford DNB
  2. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  3. [2] A History of Carmarthenshire
  4. The Times, Oct 04, 1923
  5. The Times, Oct 15, 1923
  6. Aberconway
  7. Aberconway
  8. The Times, 18 December 1931
  9. The Times, 30 March 1933
  10. The Times, 22 May 1935
  11. The Times, 4 October 1933
  12. The Times, Mar 20, 1934
  13. The Times, 2 March 1936
  14. 1937 British Industries Fair Advert pp666 and 667; and p424
  15. The Times, 30 December 1944