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The Iron Industry in Wales

The iron industry became a major industry in Wales by the end of the 18c when industrialists began using charcoal on a large scale as a fuel for smelting. Merthyr Tydfil was the main centre of Iron production in Wales and there were four large iron works situated there: Dowlais – which developed into the world's largest iron production centre – Plymouth, Cyfarthfa and Penydarren. The most obvious feature of the iron industry in the South Wales coalfield was that it was mass produced iron. By 1840, 36.2% of the British crude iron would be mined in the 26 plants between Hirwaun and Pontypool.
Iron works flourished in west Wales also, in the Gwendraeth valley and in Carmarthen where Cwmdwyfron Iron works was run by local banker, George Morgan. Production of iron took place on a much smaller scale in north-east Wales, but it was more sophisticated and goods and machinery made of iron were produced there; for example the iron works at Bersham and its sister plant at Brymbo produced canons and became important producers.
It could be said that the golden age of the ironworks in Merthyr and the surrounding area was between 1820 and 1850 when they specialised in producing heavy iron bars for British and world railways. However, by the end of the 19th century steel had replaced vessel iron as the main product of the industry as open-fire furnaces were developed and made it possible to produce large-scale steel.


Read more about the steel and iron works at Cyfarthfa here:
https://www.peoplescollection.wales/collections/385564

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'Cwmdwyfron Ironworks', watercolour c...

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