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Francis Crawshay (1811-78) was the second son of the ironmaster William Crawshay II, of Cyfarthfa Castle, Merthyr Tydfil. In the early 1830s, Francis was put in charge of Hirwaun Ironworks, which his father had acquired in 1819, and a new tinplate works at Treforest, near Pontypridd. Francis was regarded as a somewhat eccentric character: he refused to reside at Ty Mawr, Hirwaun, preferring instead to live at a cottage to the north of the works called Tir Gwyn Bach. In 1848 he built a round tower to the south-west of the town, which he used during the summer. He was known as 'Mr Frank' by the workers and learned to speak Welsh in order to communicate with them. He later moved from Hirwaun to Treforest, where he lived at Forest House with his wife and eight children. It was during this time that he became friends with Dr William Price, the Chartist and druid. Francis himself erected his own druidic circle at Forest House which was eventually demolished during the 1950s in order to provide space for the expanding college campus at Treforest. Francis was particularly fond of the sea and owned a steam yacht in which he often sailed to France. Following the closure of the Hirwaun and Treforest works, in 1859 and 1867 respectively, Francis retired to Bradbourne Hall, Sevenoaks, where it was said he enjoyed walking around in nautical dress. Sources: Peter Lord, 'The Francis Crawshay Worker Portraits / Portreadau Gweithwyr Francis Crawshay' (University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies / Canolfan Uwchefrydiau Cymreig a Cheltaidd Prifysgol Cymru, Aberystwyth, 1996) and M. S. Taylor, 'The Crawshays of Cyfarthfa' (London, 1967).

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