Celtic Royal Genealogy

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  • ID: I10
  • Name: Richard Thomas "Thomas of Lydbrook"
  • Surname: Thomas
  • Given Name: Richard
  • Suffix: "Thomas of Lydbrook"
  • Sex: M
  • Birth: 5 Dec 1837 in Bridgwater, Somerset, England
  • Death: 28 Sep 1916 in Bath, Gloucestershire, England
  • Burial: 30 Sep 1916 Lydbrook Church, Lydbrook, Gloucestershire, England
  • _UID: 8BD0A943B45B6441A152148031E8576B5DE2
  • Note:
    England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index: 1837-1983
    Name: Richard Thomas
    Year of Registration:1838 Quarter of Registration:Jan-Feb-Mar District:Bridgwater County:Somerset
    Volume:10 Page:322
    .......................................
    1841 England Census
    Name: Richard Thomas Age: 4 Estimated Birth Year: abt 1837 Gender: Male Where born: Somerset, England Civil Parish: Woolavington Hundred: Whitley County/Island: Somerset Country: England Street address: Occupation: Registration district: Bridgwater Sub-registration district: Huntspill
    Household Members:
    Name Age
    Fanny Thomas 1
    Richard Thomas 4
    .......................................

    1851 England Census
    Name: Richard Thomas Age: 13 Estimated Birth Year: abt 1838 Relation: Assistant Gender: Male Where born: Bridgewr, Somerset, England Civil Parish: Hackney Ecclesiastical parish: Hackney County/Island: Middlesex Country: England Street address: Occupation: Condition as to marriage: Disability: Registration district: Hackney Sub-registration district: Hackney ED, institution, or vessel: 2 Household schedule number: 92
    Household Members:
    Name Age
    John H Branscombe 27
    John Goring 22
    Elizabeth Green 27
    Jane Hill 23
    John Lawton 22
    Mary Pessin 34
    George Summerfield 31
    Richard Thomas 13
    Source Citation: Class: HO107; Piece: 1505; Folio: 35; Page: 27; GSU roll: 87839.
    .......................................

    1861 Wales Census
    Name: Richard Thomas Age: 23 Estimated Birth Year: abt 1838 Relation: Head Spouse's Name: Ann Gender: Male Where born: Bri?? Civil Parish or Township: Briton Ferry County/Island: Glamorgan Country: Wales Street address: 63 Main Road, Briton Ferry Condition as to marriage: Married Education: Employment status: Coal Manager Registration district: Neath Sub-registration district: Neath ED, institution, or vessel: 7 Household schedule number: 63
    Household Members:
    Name Age
    Ann Thomas 23
    Richard Thomas 23
    Richard B Thomas 10 Mo
    Source Citation: Class: RG9; Piece: 4084; Folio: 99; Page: 12; GSU roll: 543231.
    ......................................

    1871 England Census
    Name: Richard Thomas Age: 33 Estimated Birth Year: abt 1838 Relation: Head Spouse's Name: Anne Gender: Male Where born: Bridgewater, Somerset, England Civil Parish: Walford County/Island: Herefordshire Country: England Street address: Hyrne Villa Occupation: Condition as to marriage: Disability: Registration district: Ross Sub-registration district: Ross ED, institution, or vessel: 16 Household schedule number: 71
    Household Members:
    Name Age
    John Gimblet 15
    William Gimblet 24
    Anne Thomas 33
    Frances T Thomas 5
    Harold M Thomas 3
    Richard Thomas 33
    Sarah Williams 22
    Source Citation: Class: RG10; Piece: 2687; Folio: 96; Page: 14; GSU roll: 835340.
    ......................................

    1881 England Census.
    Name: Richard Thomas Age: 43 Estimated Birth Year: abt 1838 Relation: Head Spouse's Name: Anna Gender: Male Where born: Bridgwater, Somerset, England Civil Parish: West Dean County/Island: Gloucestershire Country: England Street address: Upper Lydbrook
    Condition as to marriage: Married. Occupation: Iron & Tinplate Master And Colliery Owner Employing About 800 Men And Boys Registration district: Monmouth Sub-registration district: Coleford ED, institution, or vessel: 26
    Household Members:
    Name Age
    Emily Gibbons 21
    Annie Rugg 19
    Anna Thomas 44
    Ann Loveluck2
    Fanny M. Thomas 5
    Richard Thomas 43
    Stanley R. Thomas
    Source Citation: Class: RG11; Piece: 5225; Folio: 120; Page: 25; Line: ; GSU roll: 1342259.
    .........................................

    1891 Wales Census
    Name: Richard Thomas Age: 53 Estimated Birth Year: abt 1838 Relation: Head Spouse's Name: Ann Loveluck Gender: Male Where born: Bridgend, Somerset, England Civil Parish: Eglwysilan County/Island: Glamorgan Country: Wales Street address: Condition as to marriage: Education: Employment status: Occupation: Registration district: Pontypridd Sub-registration district: Eglwysilan ED, institution, or vessel: 14
    Household Members:
    Name Age
    Ellen Sophia Love 24
    Edward Parrington Salvage 27
    Ann Loveluck Thomas 54
    Elizabeth Mabel Thomas 11
    Francis Treharn Thomas 25
    Harold Marsey Thomas 23
    Richard Thomas 53
    Sarah Jane Thomas 22
    .....................................................

    1911 census
    Last names First names Sex Birth year Age in 1911 District County
    THOMAS RICHARD M 1837 74 Bristol Gloucestershire
    .....................................................

    England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index: 1837-1983
    Name: Richard Thomas
    Estimated Birth Year: abt 1837 Year of Registration: 1913 Quarter of Registration: Oct-Nov-Dec Age at Death: 76 District: Bristol County: Avon, Gloucestershire Volume: 6a Page: 200
    .....................................................

    Record_ID: 271831 Entry_Number: 75 Year: 1916 Month: Sep Day: 30 Surname: THOMAS Forenames: Richard Residence: Bale Age_at_death: 78 years Officiating_Minister: G A Hopkins Event: Burial Cause_of_death: Memoranda: Notes: Register_Reference: P208 IN 1/13 Page_No: 10 Parish_Chapel: Lydbrook Soundex: T520
    .....................................................

    England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966
    Name: Richard Thomas Probate Date: 11 Apr 1917 Death Date: 28 Sep 1916 Death Place: Bath, Somerset, England Registry: Bristol
    .....................................................

    Richard Thomas of 31 Henrietta Street, Bath, died at 31 Henrietta Street, Bath on 28th September 1916. Probate granted in the District Probate Registry, Bristol, 28 December 1916.
    Gross 92,139-10-8 pounds, net 91,794-2-5 pounds, further grant April 1917.
    Granted to Richard Beaumont-Thomas of The Glade, Englefield Green, Surrey, Frank Treherne Thomas of The Leasowe, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Harold Massey Thomas of Cwmfelin Steel Works, Swansea, Glamorgan, Charles Saint David Spencer of 6 Woking Street, Cardiff, Glamorgan.
    Extracted by Spencer and Evans of 6 Woking Street, Cardiff.
    ....................................................

    THOMAS of Lydbrook (H. Coll. , 5 May 1909). Potent argent and sable, on a chevron sable five suns in splendour or. Mantling sable and argent. Crest ? On a wreath of the colours, a demi-lion rampant or, grasping in the dexter paw a sunflower in bend sinister, stalked and leaved proper. Motto ? "Pro Deo et patria." Badge ? A key, wards upward, interlaced with an annulet or. Livery ? Black. Eldest son of Richard Thomas, b. 1814 ; d. 1895; tn. 1835, Maria, d. of George Green of Shefford : ? Richard Thomas, Gentleman, b. 1837 ; tn. 1859 [impaling gules, a key, wards upward, between two annulets in pale and two flaunches or], Anne, d. of John Loveluck ; and has issue (1) Richard Beaumont Thomas, Gentleman, b. 1860 [tn. 1888, Nora Constance, d. of James Anderson ; and has surv. issue ? Lionel Beaumont Thomas, Gentleman, b. 1893; Reginald Alexander Beaumont Thomas, Gentleman, b. 1903; and Irene Muriel Beaumont];
    (2) Frances Treherne Thomas, Gentleman, b. 1865 [m. 1899, Margaret Elizabeth, d. of Fred. W. Monks; and has issue ? four children] ;
    (3) Harold Massey Thomas, Gentleman, b. 1867 [tn. 1898, Margaret Louisa, d. of Robinson ; and has issue ? two children];
    (4) Hubert Spence Thomas, Gentleman, b. 1872 [tn. 1898, Ruby Jean Robertson, d. of Foulis; and has issue ? five children (Res. ? The Laurels, Westbourne Crescent, Whitchurch, Cardiff)];
    (5) Wyndham Partridge Thomas, Gentleman, b. 1873 [m. , Margaret Gairdner Shankland, d. of Bell ; and has issue ? two children;
    Fanny Maud MacMullan ;
    and Elizabeth Mabel Brand. Post, add.? Melingriffith, Cardiff.
    [Arthur Charles Fox-Davies. Armorial families : a directory of gentlemen of coat-armour (Volume 2)] ....................................................

    THOMAS, RICHARD (1838-1916; D.W.B., 1150-1), diwydiannwr; mab gwerthwr metel o Lundain; g. yn Bridgwater, 1838, a'i addysgu yn y Wesleyan College, Taunton. Aeth i'r fasnach blatiau tun ym Margam, a phan godwyd gweithiau Melincryddan, ger Castell-nedd (1863), ef oedd yn cyfarwyddo'r gwaith. Yn 1865 cafodd arian ar fenthyg er mwyn prynu gweithiau haearn ac alcan Ynys-pen-llwch; yn 1871 cymerodd weithiau alcan Lydbrook ar rent, yn 1875 sicrhaodd weithiau Lydney, ac yn 1877 waith glo Lydbrook. Pan aeth y farchnad yn isel yn 1883 bu raid iddo ddyfod i delerau â'i echwynwyr; ond yn y diwedd talodd iddynt yn llawn. Yn 1884, gyda'i ddau fab, ffurfiodd gwmni preifat Richard Thomas a'i Feibion, ac yn 1888 prynodd weithiau haearn a phlatiau tun Melingriffith. Datblygodd gweithgareddau'r ffyrm yn gyflym, a sicrhau gweithiau yn Aberdâr (1890), Aber-carn (1895), Cwmfelin (1896), Llanelli a Burry Port (1898), Cwmbwrla (1898), a mannau eraill (1902-8). O'i wraig Ann (Loveluck) ? a br. yn 1859, cafodd bum mab a dwy ferch. Ni chymerodd fawr o ran yn y bywyd cyhoeddus, ond rhoes yn hael at ysbytai yn Llanelli, Abertawe, Caerdydd, Casnewydd, Ross, a Lydney. Troes ei feibion, ym Medi 1918, y ffyrm yn gwmni cyhoeddus; daliodd hwnnw i lwyddo ac yn 1935 prynodd weithiau dur Glynebwy. Erbyn heddiw daeth yn ffyrm Richard Thomas and Baldwin, Cyf. Bu f. 28 Medi 1916.
    Llyfryddiaeth:
    West. Mail
    a'r S. W. Daily News;
    The Times 30 Medi 1916, a 11 Ion. 1917;
    The Engineer, 6 Hyd. 1916.
    Awdur:
    Watkin William Price, M.A., (1873-1967), Aberdâr
    .........................................

    THOMAS, RICHARD (1838-1916), industrialist; son of a London metal-merchant; b. at Bridgwater and educated at the Wesleyan College at Taunton. He entered the tinplate trade at Margam, and was afterwards clerk-of-works during the erection of Melincryddan works (1863), near Neath. In 1865 he borrowed money to buy the Ynys-pen-llwch iron and tinplate works; in 1871 he rented the Lydbrook tinplate works; in 1875 he acquired the Lydney works, and in 1877 the Lydbrook colliery. The depression of 1883 forced him to compound with his creditors, whom however, he eventually repaid in full. In 1884 he formed, with his sons, the private company of Richard Thomas and Sons, and in 1888 bought the Melingriffith iron and tinplate works. The firm expanded its activities rapidly, acquiring works at Aberdare (1890), Aber-carn (1895), Cwmfelin (1896), Llanelly and Burry Port (1898), Cwmbwrla (1898), and elsewhere (1902-8). By his wife, Ann (Loveluck), whom he had m. in 1859, Thomas had five sons and two daughters. He took but little part in public life, but was a generous supporter of hospitals at Llanelly, Swansea, Cardiff, Newport, Ross, and Lydney. He d. 28 Sept. 1916, and was buried in Lydney parish churchyard. His sons, in Sept. 1918, turned the firm into a public company, which continued to flourish, and in 1935 acquired the Ebbw Vale steel works. By today it has been merged into the firm of Richard Thomas and Baldwin, Ltd.
    Bibliography:
    Files of the West. Mail and of the S. W. Daily News;
    The Times, 30 Sept. 1916 and 11 Jan. 1917;
    The Engineer, 6 Oct. 1916.
    Author:
    Watkin William Price, M.A., (1873-1967), Aberdare
    .........................................

    Thomas, Richard (1837-1916), tin plate manufacturer, was born at Bridgwater, Somerset, on 5 December 1837, the son of Richard Thomas, shipowner and merchant, of Bridgwater. He was educated at Wesleyan (now Queen's) College, Taunton, until the age of eleven. During his early working life he was employed as a clerk, as an assistant to an uncle who ran a draper's business in Oxford (later becoming a partner in the business), and as a coal exporter and commission agent in Cardiff. While in Cardiff Thomas married, on 18 February 1859, Anne Loveluck (1836/7-1914), daughter of John Loveluck, a farmer, of Ffald, Llangynog; they had five sons and a daughter. His subsequent employment as works manager and accountant of a colliery and firebrick business at Briton Ferry, Glamorgan, in which his father was a partner, was to provide a springboard for his future career. In 1863 his appointment as accountant and sub-manager in charge of overseeing the construction of a new iron plate and tin plate works at Melyn, Neath, Glamorgan, brought him into direct contact for the first time with the industry in which he was to become an important figure. During his four years at Melyn he studied the processes, working methods, and ways of financing the tin plate trade, and he made contacts with important ironmasters and coal owners. A spell as general manager and secretary at the Ynyspenllwch ironworks was followed by Thomas's most significant development: the formation of Richard Thomas & Co. to acquire and run the idle Lydbrook tin plate works in Gloucestershire in 1871. Expansion through the acquisition of the Lydney works (1875) and the Lydbrook colliery (1877) led, however, to financial difficulties and, in 1883, eventual liquidation, due mainly to problems of flooding at the colliery. Nevertheless, with the backing of the company's major creditor, the Barrow Hematite Steel Company, the business was relaunched in 1884 as Richard Thomas & Co. Ltd, with Thomas as managing director of the new concern and his eldest son, Richard Beaumont Thomas, as general manager. Gradually the tin plate interests of Thomas and his sons-for he was always concerned to provide jobs for members of his family-were extended. In 1888 he acquired, in conjunction with William Thomas Lewis (later Baron Senghenydd) and others, the Melingriffith tin plate works on the outskirts of Cardiff. This and future expansion was based on Thomas's ability to identify ailing concerns which could be acquired at a low price and turned into profitable businesses. The period following the introduction of the American tariffs on tin plate in the early 1890s provided an impetus for further acquisitions in the late 1890s and enabled the Thomas family to build up control over a significant portion of the British tin plate industry. By 1916 the various companies associated with Richard Thomas & Co. Ltd employed over 11,000 workers and controlled a quarter of the tin plate mills in south Wales. While the problems faced during the inter-war period by the organization he built up may cast some doubts on the strategy he pursued and the organizational structure he established, the growth of the Thomas empire was none the less a considerable feat of entrepreneurship and a testament to his considerable drive and energy. It has been suggested that the key to Thomas's success lay ?in his concentration of purpose, epitomised perhaps by his insistence on total attention to business? (Wainwright, 55). Indeed, he spared little time for public life, spending only a brief period on the Monmouth board of guardians. A modest and quiet-living man who shunned publicity, he nevertheless gave generously to many a deserving cause, particularly favouring hospital work. Thomas died on 28 September 1916 at 31 Henrietta Street, Bath, and was buried at Lydbrook churchyard, Gloucestershire, on 30 September. His wife had predeceased him, dying in 1914. Trevor Boyns
    Sources
    D. Wainwright, Men of steel: a history of Richard Thomas and his family (1986) · G. M. Holmes, ?Thomas, Richard?, DBB · Western Mail [Cardiff] (29 Sept 1916) · m. cert. · d. cert.
    Archives
    British Steel RO, Shotton, records (especially minute books) of Richard Thomas & Co.

    Likenesses
    photographs, repro. in Wainwright, Men of steel
    Wealth at death
    £92,139 10s. 8d.: probate, 28 Dec 1916, CGPLA Eng. & Wales
    © Oxford University Press 200411 All rights reserved: see legal notice

    Trevor Boyns, ?Thomas, Richard (1837-1916)?, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/48339] Richard Thomas (1837-1916): doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/48339
    .........................................

    Richard Thomas was born in Bridgwater, Somerset, on 5th December 1837. His father, also named Richard Thomas, had house on Back Quay; he was a shipowner and merchant dealing in coal. His small fleet of sailing ships mainly sailed between Bridgwater, the South Cymru ports and Liverpool, taking agricultural produce and coal to the expanding town the Mersey and returning with Welsh slate from Caernarvon and stone from the Penmaenmawr quarries for delivery to South Cymru and to London. An important part of his trade was the short journey across the Bristol Channel to and from Swansea and later Cardiff. The ships carried agricultural produce to South Cymru, returning with coal from the developing coalfields. Bridgwater was a prosperous little town at Richard's birth. Its population had trebled in a quarter of a century, and in the 1840s was around 10,000. It had grown up around the bridge over the River Parrett, and thus was a trading centre for the agricultural area of north Somerset. The town looked forward to still greater prosperity after the building of a new dock which, opened in 1841, could take ships of up to 500 tons. At its peak, in the 1850s, the town received about 50 ships a day. But there were two factors that militated against further development; the bridge that had caused the town to grow there in the first place was so low that it required that all goods being taken further upstream had to be transshipped to flat-bot­tomed boats or dorys; and the winding and silted course of the River Parrett itself, by the uncertainty of its tidal flow, limited the number of days that the river was navigable at all. There were many shipwrecks. But there was a further change that rendered the old sailing ships obsolete, their services unreliable through the vagaries of wind and waves. The introduction of steamships put many shipowners out of business, and a number of Bridgwater merchants lost their money. Among them, at some time during Richard's boyhood, was the elder Richard Thomas, whose fortune in his ships was beached with them on the black silt of the Parrett. He took a job as secretary and manager of the Bridgwater gas works, and at the same time continued in business as a coal merchant.

    Young Richard was sent to boarding school at an early age. By the time he was eight he was attending the Wesleyan College (now Queen's College, Taunton) where he remained for three years. At the age of eleven he went back home to Bridgwater, to his first job: he became a clerk in a corn merchant's office. After two years, and perhaps through his father's increasing number of contacts in the City of London, he found work as a clerk near Cheapside. Then he went to join his uncle in his draper's business in Oxford. If his family hoped that this would provide Richard with the stability he at that time seemed to lack, it did not prove so. When he was 19, he and his uncle 'disagreed'. He left Oxford, but not for London, and not for Bridgwater. He went to Cardiff.

    At the start of the nineteenth century Cardiff was no more than a village down the coast from Swansea, with a population of about 2000 (not much more than a large village). Swansea prospered because coal could be brought down to it in barges on the Glamorganshire Canal, while coal came down to Cardiff by pack mule, to be loaded into sailing ships. Two men had a particular influence on the development of Cardiff. The second Marquess of Bute recognised the potential of the place, drained the marshlands to the south of the town, and laid the first stone of the Bute West Dock in 1837. During that decade, the population of Cardiff doubled. The second man to influence the devel­opment was Isambard Kingdom Brunei. The great railway engineer had got to know the ironworks of South Cymru when he was trying to raise funds in the early 1830s (vainly, at that time) to build the Clifton Suspension Bridge. He discussed with the ironmaster Anthony Hill the feasibility of a railway that would bring coal and iron down the Taff Vale to Cardiff. It was completed, triumphantly, by the late 1830s, in time to fuel Cardiff with the raw materials that could be shipped out either through the enlarged deep-water port, or by means of Brunei's other railway enterprises: the South Cymru Railway linking Cardiff with Swansea and Chepstow, and thus by the Great Western Railway to Gloucester and London. Among the young men who were drawn to Cardiff by these developments was Richard Thomas. He set up in business at the age of 19 as a 'coal exporter and commission agent'.

    He was not the first native of Bridgwater to move to Cardiff. His native town was in decline, and numbers of labourers and mechanics sailed across the Atlantic, seeking their fortunes in the burgeoning wheatlands of the Canadian mid-west. Others, particularly businessmen and traders, crossed the Bristol Channel to Cardiff (one, a corn-merchant like Richard Thomas's first employer, was Joel Spiller, who built a flour mill on the new Cardiff dockside). At first Richard Thomas prospered. Indeed, so promising did his business seem that two months after his 21st birthday he married at St Mary the Virgin Church, Cardiff, on 18 February 1859. His bride was Anne Loveluck, the daughter of John Loveluck, a farmer of Ffeld, Llangynog. She was at 22 a few months older than her husband. Both gave their address as Mount Stuart Square, Cardiff. It was probably a good marriage since the Lovelucks were influential people on that coast: one of Anne's uncles, William Loveluck, was for more than 30 years chief Customs and Exciseman at Port Talbot, and his father had been Port Reve of Kenfig as his father had been before him.

    But then once more Richard's fortunes turned for the worse. There was a miners' strike in the Aberdare and Rhondda valleys from which most of his supplies of coal came. At this juncture his uncle, the Oxford draper, came to visit his family. Suffering from ill-health, he was looking for a successor to take over the business. He must have recognised his nephew's talents, whatever their differences formerly, for now he offered him a partnership and the direction of the business. With a young wife, and a first child on the way, Richard accepted and they moved to Oxford. There, on 25 May 1860, their eldest son (named Richard Beaumont) was born. However, after a few months in Oxford Richard came to realise that it was all a mistake: he did not like the business, once again he fell out with his uncle, and the young family returned to South Cymru.

    Richard's father was now a partner in a colliery and firebrick works at Briton Ferry, across the estuary of the River Neath from Swansea. Richard joined him as works manager and accountant. It was a troubled time, for the French government had launched three new 'ironclad' war­ships, and many people believed that this must be the prelude to an attempted invasion of Great Britain by the forces of the Emperor Napoleon III. There was particular concern in South Cymru, since a previous French invasion had made its bridgehead at Fishguard, not far down the coast, in 1797. The young men of Swansea banded together in a Volunteer Corps, commanded by Mr Talbot of Margam Abbey. Included in its ranks were local aristocrats and soldiers (such as Sir John Llewellyn and Field-Marshal Lord Grenfell of Killay), and young businessmen such as Richard Thomas. Membership of that Corps no doubt cemented the com-panionability of a comparative newcomer to the district.

    His skill and enterprise attracted the attention of a local ironmaster and entrepreneur, Philip W Flower, who was planning the Melyn tin and iron works at Neath. He engaged Richard as accountant and sub-manager. Thomas acted as Clerk of the Works throughout the building of Melyn, claiming to have personally overseen every brick laid. The works were completed in the record time of twelve months, and successfully began production despite the recession in the tinplate trade. The recession was caused by the American Civil War, for until that war began in 1861, America had been a major importer of British tinplate.

    Richard Thomas remained at Melyn for four years. Dur­ing that time he studied processes, studied the workmen and their working methods, and studied the financing of the trade. He got to know the great ironmasters, up and down the country, and the wealthy coal barons of South Cymru. As the American Civil War came to an end, he recognised that the formerly rich export markets across the Atlantic would soon open up once again. He looked around for iron works that were on the point of closure, and discovered Ynispenllwch. He then went to a group of wealthy men and persuaded them that a limited company controlling that factory, with himself as manager, must be a success. A limited company was formed, and indeed proved the success that Richard Thomas had promised. Ever on the lookout for new opportunities, he began to take directorships in local companies that might offer outlets for iron products, such as the Llangrwyney Bridge Company, with an office in Crickhowell. Another director of that company was Mr William Lewis, an almost exact contemporary in age with Richard Thomas, later to be associated with him in numer­ous business enterprises, and eventually to become the first Baron Merthyr of Senghenydd.

    If Ynispenllwch was successful, it nevertheless irked Rich­ard Thomas to be merely its general manager and secretary. He had been ten years in the trade, and he sought greater personal responsibility. The story of his life is of a man with such abundant energy that he chafed with frustration if he did not get his own way. It is clear that the directors of the Ynispenllwch company were reining him in; half the pig iron in the world was produced in Britain in 1870, but others had the same idea as Richard Thomas, and over-production led to depression in the trade. There were disagreements among the directors, and Richard Thomas resigned.

    At this stage in his life Richard Thomas was more than ever confident of his own powers. He wanted an enterprise that would be his alone; and with small sons growing up (his eldest boy, Richard Beaumont, was at this time twelve years old) he was looking for an enterprise that could be expanded into a family business. He looked up the Severn Estuary, to the Forest of Dean. The iron ore, haematite, found in the Forest was of particular quality (and had already been exploited by the Crawshay family of ironmasters). At Coleford, Robert Mushet had founded the Titanic Steel and Iron Company, and by adapting the Bessemer process and introducing tungsten as a self-hardening agent, produced what was then considered to be the best steel. Despite the fact that this product was sought after in Sheffield, the Titanic Company closed in 1871.

    It was in that year that Richard Thomas moved from South Cymru to Gloucestershire. He found the Lydbrook Tinplate Works idle. The Lydbrook works were said by some to have been the place where the first tinplates were made in England. Whatever the truth of that, it seems likely that the Lydbrook works were built in 1806 by Thomas Allaway, a tenant of the Partridge family who owned the Upper and Lower Forges at Lydbrook. In 1869 the Lyd­brook works were producing 600 boxes of tinplate a week; but two years later the place was virtually at a standstill, and many of the best workmen had gone to South Cymru in search of work. Soon they were travelling back. For Richard Thomas leased the works, consisting of two mills and a forge, from John Partridge JP, 'and soon had them at work,' says a contemporary account, 'much to the gratification of the workmen'.

    The little houses of Lydbrook perch like gannets on the thickly wooded sides of the valley down which the brook that gave the place its name courses, the steep road beside it. There are two parts to the village: Upper Lydbrook is within the forest proper, while Lower Lydbrook is at the point where the brook debouches into a bend of the River Wye at its most beautiful, as it flows down towards Symonds Yat, through Monmouth and Chepstow to enter the Severn at Beachley. The old iron works were placed down the length of the valley to make the best use of the water-power, with an Upper Forge and Lower Forge. The Thomas family settled into a comfortable house, The Poplars, half way up the hill (it is now nearly all demolished, though some parts have been incorporated into the local Institute).
    Within a few years Lydbrook had become so successful that Richard Thomas could consider expansion. He looked across the Forest of Dean to Lydney, on the River Severn. In March 1875 he took over the lease of the Lydney Works from Charles Bathurst, who owned more than 4000 acres around and about his home, Lydney Park. Lydney had previously been worked by William Allaway and Sons. H G Nicholls, the contemporary historian of the Forest of Dean, records that in 1864 the Lydney works were five in number, and bear the names of the Lower Mill, the Lower Forge, the Middle Forge, the Upper Mill, and the Upper Forge. About 400 hands are engaged at them, and turn out 1000 boxes of tinplate every week, besides a quantity of sheet iron. The materials supplied to these works from the Forest of Dean are pig iron, coal, fire-bricks and clay, fire-stone and fire-sand, and cordwood for conversion into charcoal.

    Unfortunately Richard Thomas ran into financial difficulties in the early 1880s. The problem was not directly connected with the iron works, but followed from the flooding of Lydbrook Colliery (which he also owned) and the expensive litigation that resulted. There were transport difficulties at Lydney: Thomas complained to the Severn & Wye Railway Company, which owned the canal on which the works depended for power, that the canal was being kept too low to provide adequate power from the water-wheel. There was also a dispute over the tramroad linking the mills. In the first months of 1883 both Lydney and Lydbrook works were closed, and in July Richard Thomas's company was in liquidation. That this was regarded as a temporary mid-fortune is demonstrated by the concern of the chief mort­gagee, the Gloucester Banking Company, which challenged the Severn & Wye Company over the removal of the tram-road. The creditors clearly had confidence in Richard Thomas despite this setback, and agreed a scheme whereby a new company would be floated to reopen the works, the creditors of the old company to be preference shareholders in the new. The most substantial creditor was the Barrow Steel Company of Cumberland, who were supplying the tinplate trade with steel bars, and whose general manager wasjosiah T Smith. For financial backing in this new venture Thomas went to the leading steelmen, and to the City of London.

    On 17 September 1884 six men met together at the offices of Roderick MacKay, chartered accountant, in Lothbury, London. They were subscribers to the Memorandum and Articles of Association of a new company, registered five days earlier, to be called Richard Thomas & Company Limited. Richard Thomas was not at the first meeting, nor was he a founding subscriber or director. However, once the shares had been allocated and the directors appointed, a meeting was held between two of the directors for the purpose of passing a single resolution: that the Company Seal be affixed to an agreement between Richard Thomas and the company. A further meeting was then held between MacKay, J T Smith and Richard Thomas at which it was agreed that Thomas would become Managing Director, and buy himself 86 shares at £60 each (the largest single shareholding). The Lydbrook works had been bought by J T Smith, and he now sold them to the new company for £9500. Mr Smith also, on behalf of the new company, endorsed a note by which Richard Thomas would repay to the Gloucestershire Banking Company the sum of £7300 owing to them.

    Several matters are tied up within these various agree­ments. First, it was necessary because of the financial com­plications of the previous few years that Richard Thomas should engage in these tortuous legal and financial arrange­ments in order to keep the Lydney and Lydbrook works in operation. Secondly, he was being backed, financially and in a business sense, by one of the leading figures in the British iron and steel trade of the time - Josiah Timmis Smith.

    Ten years older than Richard Thomas, Smith had inherited family interests in the trade. With his father, he built and managed the Stanton Iron Works. Later he spent a year at the Creuzot works in France. When the iron ore deposits of north Lancashire were being exploited in the 1860s Josiah Smith was brought in to build and manage the Barrow works. He introduced the new Bessemer steel-making process and made Barrow one of the leading steel works in Europe. His particular skill was in the application of Bessemer steel for railways and this, at a time of the great expansion of the railways was immensely profitable. When he became associated with Richard Thomas in the new company, he was at the peak of his reputation (he was President of the British Iron Trade Association from 1886 to 1888). He was also in his last years at Barrow, from which he retired in 1887 and went to live at Stratford-on-Avon. But he retained a close and active interest in business, and chaired every company meeting of Richard Thomas & Co for over twenty years, almost until his death in 1906 at the age of 84. It is clear, therefore, that the authority and distinction of such a chairman was guarantee enough for the iron trade and the world of business that Richard Thomas was soundly based, not that such a guarantee would have been needed at this time.

    Two of the other founding directors were colleagues of Smith in north Lancashire - Thomas Murgatroyd of Silverdale near Carnforth, and Edward Wadham of Mill-wood, Dalton-in-Furness. The seventh and last director was the accountant, MacKay (in the days before it was regarded as improper for an accountant to be a director of a company whose accounts he audited). All the directors other than Richard Thomas were also founding shareholders, together with two of MacKay's clerks, and one Edward Boyle. Boyle was the son of a civil engineer, and one of those remarkably many-sided individuals who built and capitalised upon the wealth of Victorian England. Educated privately for the army, he later studied to be an architect and practised from 1870, specialising in railways and docks. He became a Fellow of the Surveyors' Institution in 1878. But his business inter­ests drew him towards the law. Having married Miss Con­stance Knight, whose father had created one of the great soap empires, he was independently wealthy. Yet in 1884, when he became a shareholder in Richard Thomas & Com­pany, he was reading for the Bar, for which he qualified three years later. He subsequently became the author of two standard legal works, on rating and compensation and on the law of railway and canal traffic. He was created a Baronet in 1904, and elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Taunton in 1906. He died three years later. His son, who was also a barrister and a director of Richard Thomas & Company, died in 1945 and was succeeded to the baronetcy by his son, also Edward Boyle - the Conservative education minister and subsequently, as Lord Boyle of Handsworth, Vice-Chancellor of Leeds University.

    Among those closely connected with the company at its foundation, then, were one of the leading steelmakers, the leading City accountant, and the future expert on railway law - a formidable team. The association with Josiah Timmis Smith was even more personal, since the Works Manager (at a salary of £250 a year) was to be Josiah Smith of Lydney - presumably J T Smith's son. The meeting at which he was appointed also resolved to appoint, as Company Secretary, Richard Beaumont Thomas. Richard Thomas's eldest son was now 24. He too was given a salary of .£250 a year. That meeting was held only a fortnight after the inaugural meeting, yet it was recorded that in so short a time the works had sold 2800 boxes of Clean Terne tinplates and 450 double boxes, altogether worth £2725: a very fine augury for the future.

    The promise was upheld in the first three months. When the first Annual General Meeting of shareholders was held in the City on 26 February 1885, the accounts for the last three months of the previous year were so satisfactory that the meeting was able to declare a dividend of 6 per cent, to allocate ^2000 of the profits to a Reserve Fund, and to carry forward a balance of £357 14s 2d. That 'Reserve Fund' was to be significant in the years that followed. It was to be the basis of the company's expansion in difficult days, for Rich­ard Thomas made it a matter of principle (which his fellow directors fully supported) that substantial amounts of profits should be ploughed back into the business. At a Directors' Meeting following the AGM two interesting decisions were taken. It was agreed that a telephone should be installed between the two works at Lydbrook and Lydney (Alexander Graham Bell had invented the first practical working model in America less than a decade earlier); and it was resolved that the Company should take £50 of shares 'in a limited company to be formed at Lydbrook for the establishment of a coffee tavern'. This was one of the earliest efforts of Richard Beaumont Thomas to wean the workmen and their families away from alcohol to the temperance he himself preached and practised.

    Although R B Thomas had been sent (briefly) to a public school, most of his formative years had been spent in study­ing the steel business 'on the ground', with J T Smith in Barrow, and (when the Seimens Martin furnaces were intro­duced there) at the South Cymru Works in Llanelli. The traffic at Lydney has been described:

    The last charcoal-iron for tinplate was rolled at Lydney in 1886; steel for tinplate-making had taken the place of puddled iron. In 1887 the yearly traffic between the Upper and Lower Forges was about 4200 tons in pro­cess of manufacture, and 5200 tons of coal to and from the New Mills. Down the Thomas's tramway from Lower Forge were conveyed tinplates in boxes to their wharf at the head of the canal, just south of the South Cymru line, where the old ruined warehouse still survives. Horses worked the flat-bottomed waggons, and a small steam-boat, the Black Dwarf, carried the plates to Avonmouth, where they were shipped to places as far afield as Australia.

    The Black Dwarf, owned and operated by a famous Lydney character, Billy Jones, used to ply up and down the Severn to Bristol carrying coal as well as tinplate. It was a general delivery service, too; for one Lydney resident recalls as a girl climbing to a vantage point to scan the river through fieldglasses for the Black Dwarf, returning after a few days away - not least because it might be carrying 'a great "hand" of bananas or some other luxury from Bristol: it was only on those occasions that we ever saw bananas'.

    That the works were so busy was due not least to the energies of RBT (as he was known throughout the works) in modernising Lydney and Lydbrook. An attempt was made, towards the end of 1885, to purchase the lease of Lydney, but this was evidently unsuccessful, and a new lease was signed in the spring of 1886. Mr Jones was appointed manager at a salary of £350 a year, with house rent, coal and lighting. His appointment was due to the premature death of Josiah Smith the younger. However, the mills continued to prosper, and by the Annual General Meeting that August the directors could report that the debt to the Gloucester Banking Company had been reduced by £2000 to £5000, but nevertheless £1000 had been spent on a new engine at Lydney and a further ,£250 on a boiler to extend the Lower Forge. By the following spring, a third mill had been attached to the Forge engine.
    Two setbacks were encountered during the summer of 1887. There was a breakage at Lydbrook which took three mills out of commission for three months. Further, it was a hot dry summer and the drought was dangerous for an industry still dependent on water power. But RBT was able to report that both works had been kept going full time. The new work at Lydney was now almost completed; the new engine and mills at Lower Forge were proving to be 'equal to anything in the Trade'. Difficulties were discovered in the legal position with the Severn, Wye and Severn Bridge Railway Company over the arrangements for tramway access. Charles Bathurst, the freeholder, had asked the rail­way company to complete the exchange of the Free Wharf and tramway access (a matter of contention for nearly a decade) but the railway had imposed conditions. Legal advice was taken and Richard Thomas accepted the conditions, but asked the 'the depth of water in the canal above the Swing Bridge should be maintained at eight feet'.

    The half year to February 1888 saw still more devel­opments at Lydney. A new annealing furnace and assorting room had been built, and a new boiler laid down for the cold rolls. Progress had been made with additional cold rolls and tinhouse stacks to cope with the extra output of the mills. It was planned that five more stacks would complete the tinhouse and the foundations were being put in. The foundry was at work, and most of the plant and materials had been removed from the Middle Forge and used else­where. There were improvements, too, though on a smaller scale, at Lydbrook where two new boilers had been ordered to replace those worn out in the Old Mills.

    Ever inventive, RBT had devised a new and much improved method of cleaning and dusting plates, and had patented it (Eng. 16065). New he proposed, and the company accepted, that the patent should be jointly owned by himself and his company, that the net profits should be divided half-and-half, and that the company should have free use of the machines at Lydney and Lydbrook. Patents were to be taken out in other countries (and in particular the USA, where piracy of new inventions was still a threat). RBT's salary as secretary of the company was raised by a further ,£50 a year; but although the question of paying him a commission on sales was raised, the directors decided to defer the matter for another year.

    However, the matter came forward again at the August meeting of the directors at Lydney. Still more building work had been done: two pairs of cold rolls had been added to the water wheel at Lydney, and the whole section roofed in. The tinhouse building was almost complete, and one stack was already working. At Lydbrook, two new boilers had been put down at the Old Mills and at the Lower Forge, water from the Wye was being pumped to the boilers. It seemed that agreement had at last been reached with the Severn & Wye Railway Company. The half-year profits were almost £3000; a dividend of 10 per cent on the half year was once more paid, and £2000 put to the Reserve Fund.
    On this most satisfactory note, Richard Thomas announced that he had decided to retire as Managing Direc­tor. The other directors accepted his resignation with regret, and 'hoped that he will consent to act as consulting director with an honorarium of £100 per annum'. He did. It was then proposed by the chairman, Josiah Timmis Smith, and carried unanimously that Richard Beaumont Thomas should be appointed Managing Director and continue to act as secretary. His salary was to be £600 pa with house rent, taxes and coal free. He would also be granted a commission of 5 per cent on the net profits of the company, and his salary would be raised to £700 from 1890. The contract was for seven years; and a very prosperous seven years they were to prove.

    It might have been supposed that Richard Thomas, at the age of 50, was taking a well-earned retirement. That was not his plan. A month later, on 22 September 1888, there was a meeting at the Bute Estate Offices, Cardiff, of the subscribers to the Memorandum and Articles of Association of The Melingriffith Company Limited. At that meeting, Richard Thomas was appointed Managing Director of the Melingrimth Company, at a salary of £400 pa 'with house and coal and 1\ per cent of the net profits'. Harold Massey Thomas, his third son, was to be company secretary. Other subscribers were Richard Beaumont Thomas and his next brother Francis Treherne Thomas (known as Frank, and to make Melingriffith his particular concern).1 Melingriffith was on the River Taff at Whitchurch, a few miles to the north west of Cardiff. It is said that a group of Bristol Merchant Venturers bought a forge there and built a tinplate works next to it about 1760. By 1808 a travel guide recorded that 'the tin works at Melin Gruffyth are perhaps the largest in the Kingdom'.

    Among the other directors of Melingriffith was Sir Wil­liam Thomas Lewis, of The Mardy, Aberdare, and his son Herbert Clark Lewis. A leading mine-owner, Sir William T Lewis was a member of the Council of Civil Engineers, and sometime President of the Mining Association of Great Britain and of the Institute of Mining Engineers. He was ennobled in 1911 as the first Baron Merthyr of Senghenydd in the County of Glamorgan. He was the same age as Richard Thomas, and a notable figure in public life in South Cymru in a way that Richard Thomas chose not to be. But as an associate with whom to launch the Thomas family's return to South Cymru he was incomparable. As Charles Bathurst of Lydney Park had given practical help in the development of the works at Lydney and Lydbrook (and his son2 was to continue the family interest in the company), Their addresses at this time were given as: Richard Thomas, Fern Lee, Thurlow Pk Rd, London Richard Beaumont Thomas, The Poplars, Lydbrook, Glos. Francis Treherne Thomas, Station Row, Lydney, Glos.

    2Charles Bathurst, first Viscount Bledisloe (1867-1958), Governor-General of New Zealand 1930-35.

    so the Lewis family gave authoritative backing for the ven­tures in South Cymru. As a leading historian of the steel industry has written:

    In the finance of works ... the character of the pro­moter was important. It was a great advantage if he was recognised as a man of standing and integrity. In consequence lawyers often served in this capacity. Then the local syndicates often depended on the skill of the man chosen to be manager. There was great com­petition for a manager's services, for in the absence of any marked difference in equipment between works, efficient management was the key to successful business. Many tinplate firms owed much to their managers. Richard Thomas & Co, for example, were con­siderably indebted to the various members of two families, the Davieses and the Lewises of Lydney, who managed their various works ... Best known of the Davieses were John Da vies, his brothers TF and WR, and Leslie J Davies, his son.

    Where finance had failed, disaster inevitably followed. Melingriffith was ripe for the taking. The historic ironworks (which dated back to the eighteenth century) had been the victim of a financial failure in the 1870s. It had been backed by the West of England Bank, and when that failed in 1878, Melingriffith became bankrupt in the following year. It had then been bought by James Spence, a Liverpool metal merchant; one of his associates in the business was T W Allaway from the Forest of Dean, from whose family Rich­ard Thomas had taken over the Lydney works. Since he gave the name 'Spence' to his fourth son, an association of friendship as well as business seems likely. Richard Thomas paid only £12,000 for the Melingriffith Works, and a further £10,500 for the plant and machinery, when he bought it in 1888; but this was considered locally to be 'probably less than one-fourth of its real value'. Already the policy of Richard Thomas in setting aside capital in reserve funds was paying dividends. In his first half-year report after becoming Managing Director at Lydbrook and Lydney, Richard Beaumont Thomas was able to set down double net profits, to more than £6000. This performance was slightly improved in the second half, so that RBT's personal share of the profits for the year must have in effect doubled his salary. In 1890 the year's profit was over £18,000 (in the second half-year alone it was nearly £12,000); but this was topped in the first half of 1891 when the company's net profits were more than £26,000. These astonishing results were in part due to the improvements made to the mills; but they were also in the context of special circumstances. The greatest profit to the tinplate industry had come, in the late 1880s, from the United States. Now tariff barriers were being raised against the British. If the 1880s had been a boom-time for the timplate industry, the 1890s were to be a time of slump and indeed, for many works, of closure.

    Throughout the 1880s there had been a swelling chorus of complaint in the United States against imports from Britain that could as well be made locally. Adding to this chorus were the men who, as works had closed in South Cymru during the recurring recessions of the 1880s, had emigrated to Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Chicago in the hope that they would find jobs in the new world - skilled jobs in the steel industry. Leading the demand for tariffs was a Congressman from Ohio, William McKinley. William McKinley (1843-1901), 25th President of the United States (from 1896), assassinated in the second year of his second term, 1901.

    He happend to have a family interest in tinplate: when he was a boy, his father scraped a meagre living from two or three small pig-iron furnaces. The McKinley Tariff came into effect on 1 July 1891. Different businesses reacted diffe­rently to it. A strong belief among many manufacturers in Britain was that the tariff would prove too damaging for the United States to keep it up for long, because (they believed) the American factories would not be able to pro­duce enough quality steel and tinplate to satisfy demand. Therefore, they argued, it would not last very long, and would prove to be merely a temporary inconvenience in business. Other manufacturers were less sanguine. John H Rogers, a partner with Edmund Morewood in one of the largest works in Llanelli, chose to emigrate to the United States - perhaps because Morewood & Co of Leadenhall Street, London, were principal exporters of galvanised iron roofs and sheet iron to the USA. In 1892 Rogers opened a new tinplate works at Elizabeth Port, New Jersey, capable of producing an estimated one million boxes of tinplate annually. That was nearly the quantity that a leading British exporter (Phelps, James & Co) was despatching to the USA annually.

    The McKinley Tariff put a duty of 2.2 cents per pound on imported tinplate. A box of tinplate then sold at 14s 4d, and the added duty was equivalent to a further 10s, or 70 per cent. But a lower duty was charged on blackplate and untinned metal, so that there was some trade in metal in the preparatory stages. Inevitably, the market was distorted by the heavy buying of exporting merchants in the months preceding the imposition of the tariff. RBT and his col­leagues adopted a further ingenious stratagem. Because of all the substantial buying that had gone on, there was little sale for tinplate in Britain in May 1891. So the Lydney works consigned the whole of their May production, valued at £27,246 14s 7d, to agents in New York, Messrs Bruce & Cook. It was despatched so that it could be unloaded and warehoused during the last days before the tariff barrier came down. It looked a good scheme at the time, and produced a phenomenal sales performance on paper. But the tinplate took years to sell, and it was a very long time before the investment was recovered.

    The purchase by Richard Thomas of the Melingriffith works in 1888 more than doubled the production capacity owned by the Thomas family; to the eleven mills at Lydney and Lydbrook were added a further twelve at Melingriffith. That works, too, provided a testing ground for Richard Thomas's fifth son, Wyndham Partridge Thomas, who dem­onstrated his skill by developing (with R Davies) and pat­enting an improved tinning pot, in 1893. By that date also the second son, Francis (he was always know as 'Frank') Treherne Thomas was managing the Cynon Tin Plate Works at Aberdare for Sir John Jones Jenkins, who had acquired it in 1883. Sir John was another of those influential local leaders, almost exact contemporaries of Richard Thomas, who dominated public life in the Principality. Mayor of Swansea thrice, MP for Carmarthen in the 1880s and 1890s, sometime Chairman of the Swansea Harbour Trust, Director of the Swansea Bank, and ennobled in 1906 as Lord Glentawe, he was clearly a figure of note.

    The months preceding the imposition of the McKinley Tariff in 1891 were a period of boom (and to mark the success, all the workers and their wives were offered a free excursion railway ticket to London: 600 of them took the chance of the outing, on 4 August). Unfortunately within a few weeks sales fell off, and the works were put on short time. A succession of freezing winters and summer droughts worsened the situation. In 1895, with a third of the mills in South Cymru idle, the workers at Lydney and Lydbrook conceded a ten per cent cut in wages, in exchange for an agreement that the works would probably be kept at full time. A year later, Richard Thomas & Co produced a profit from Lydney, Lydbrook and the Lydbrook Colliery (now reopened) of only ^188 3s 6d. The major cause of this near-disaster was a drought that had caused the regular suppliers of steel bars to default for a period of three months, so that the company had to buy at much higher prices elsewhere in order to keep the mills going at all. Another cause, though, was the spread of unionism among the tinplate workers, and a demand throughout the trade for a return to the wage scales of 1874 after a period of wage cuts. There was a stoppage at Lydney; after negotiation the men accepted a five per cent rise, and work re-started. But early in December 1896 there was a further two weeks' strike, and a further concession of 2| per cent, with a full return to the 1874 wage rates from the beginning of 1897. The management believed that these demands were unreasonable in view of the depressed state of the tinplate trade.

    It was probably the default of their steel suppliers that attracted Richard Thomas and his sons to the prospect of their own steelworks. Only then would they have control over their own supplies. The pattern of the tinplate trade was changing, for after five years the McKinley Tariff had been renewed and it was evident that an indigenous Amer­ican industry was being succesfully created. Mills were idle or closing all over South Cymru. One of the larger and most noteworthy casualties was the formerly prosperous works of E Morewood & Company at Llanelli. The managing director, John Rogers, having emigrated to America, in 1896 the Llanelli works went into liquidation. The assets were acquired by F W Bond and Henry C Bond, who had been partners in Morewoods, and now set up a company to be called the South Cymru Tin Plate Company Limited. There were thirteen mills with their own steel works (erected in 1880, and producing enough bars for all the mills) and rolling mills. The company also owned the Cwmbwrla works at Swansea.

    On 1 May 1897 some boys at Lydbrook went on strike; the works was closed. Lydney kept going for a further six weeks, but by mid-June the Lydbrook strikers, with union support, were threatening to bring out the Lydney men unless Lydbrook were re-started on their terms. The man­agement refused, and Lydney was brought out on strike on 19 June. It was a long and bitter dispute; but RBT used the period to modernise some of the plant. He told his fellow directors:

    Certain improvements which we have for a length of time been considering can now be carried out, which when completed will not only reduce the cost of manu­facture but materially reduce the number of hands. Already a machine patented by Hubert Thomas for shearing plates has been ordered from Buckton at Leeds and designs have been prepared for altering the cold rolling at a cost of about £550 and further improved machinery for the tinhouse is contemplated. With what we have in view, it is believed the works will be in advance of anything in Cymru but it is possible these improvements would not have been allowed to be carried out by the Union and therefore any arrange­ment which may be come to as to wages will have to include an agreement to work loyally under a new system. Everyone that can possibly be done without has been discharged and the few who will be left will be on half pay, this arrangement going through the entire staff from the Directors downwards.

    The new machinery was installed. After a long hard summer, the Lydney men agreed to return early in October, accepting a 15 per cent cut in wages and electing a Representative Council to agree wage rates 'prevailing at our works' - a local agreement. Lydbrook held out for a further six weeks before returning. It was noted that output improved materi­ally following the return to work.
    But this strike was only a prelude to a far more damaging dispute - the first coordinated strike of South Cymru miners in 1898, which closed down all the South Cymru steelworks and led to a chronic shortage of steel bars. Ironically, the comparatively small Lydbrook Colliery, not being in Cymru, kept going; so that at a time when the tinplate mills were going slow because of the Welsh miners' strike, the company was earning some profit from the sale of coal from its own colliery. At this time of conflict and disruption, with mills failing and closing throughout South Cymru, Richard Thomas and his sons put together one of the most remarkable and constructive ventures in the history of the steel industry. That they were able to do so was due partly to their own experience, technical skill and competence, allied to a great confidence and an ability to choose, train and keep reliable lieutenants among their senior staff. It was due also to that careful husbandry of financial resources in the good years, so that in the bad years there were substantial reserves avail­able for investment.

    Old Richard Thomas, kept up his interest in Lydney, which had been the foundation of his fortune. He occasionally attended formal ceremonies in the town, to which, like his son, he was a considerable benefactor. His interest was recognised by his seven thousand workmen who, to mark the Golden Wedding of Richard Thomas and his wife Anne on 18 February 1909, subscribed to a complete service of gilt plate.

    One of the Swansea workers, using the pen-name 'Afonwe' (he was David Richards of Swansea) wrote a poem to celebrate the occasion.

    Bravo Lydbrook you've been faithful
    And Lydney your dear bride
    And all around your constant love
    Your reputation's wide
    For 50 years so fruitful
    Like a cedar fair
    You've spread your branches, near and far,
    And blossomed everywhere.

    Melingriffith and your colliery,
    And nourished them with care,
    And then there came the roses,
    Abercarn and Aberdare,
    Cwmbwrla and Llansamlet,
    So fresh with pearls of dew,
    South Cymru and Llantrisant,
    Burry Port and sweet Cilfrew.

    The Foundry, London Agency,
    And also Redbourn Hills,
    And from our little Lydbrook comes
    A hundred rolling mills.
    Cwmfelin is your strongest branch
    Upon the Burlais stream,
    In order there are twenty Mills
    And all propelled by steam.

    You're the tree, the old Welsh oak,
    That has braved many a storm,
    Although you've seen such hardships,
    You're now in splendid form.
    God spare you for many years again,
    About two scores and ten,
    For you have been so upright,
    And fair, and square, with men.

    The event was marked in London by a luncheon at the Hyde Park Hotel for the senior managers and staff, followed that evening by a family dinner at which Richard Thomas was supported by his sons and daughters and their increasing offspring. For his part, the old man marked the occasion by giving 1000 guineas each to Llanelli, Swansea, Cardiff and Newport hospitals, in each case to endow a 'Richard Tho­mas' bed, and £,250 to the Ross Hospital. That summer, the College of Heralds recorded the armorial bearings of 'Thomas of Lydbrook':

    Potent argent and sable, on a chevron sable five suns in splendour or, mantling sable and argent, crest on a wreath of the colours, a demi-lion rampant or, grasping in the dexter paw a sunflower in bend sinister, stalked and leaved proper. Motto: Pro Deo et Patria. Badge: A key, wards upwards, interlaced with an amulet or. Livery: Black.

    It is not difficult to identify 'argent' (heraldically, silver) with steel, and 'sable' (heraldically, black) with coal. The 'five suns in splendour' were certainly a pretty tribute to the five sons of Richard Thomas, all managing iron or steelworks. Some four years later Richard Thomas was able to celebrate the Silver Wedding of his eldest son Richard Beaumont Thomas and his wife, by leading the family contributors to a handsome clock with associated candlesticks, inkstand and tray, presented by father and mother, four brothers and two sisters.

    Richard Thomas died in Bath on 28 September 1916, at the age of 78. His will was proved at ,£92,140. His achieve­ment in creating a vast steelmaking empire from the small beginnings of a modest tinplate works in the Forest of Dean is one of the remarkable successes of British industrial entrepreneurship. He was certainly fortunate in his times, for he began in business at just the time that modern methods of steelmaking were being introduced, and modern indus­trial processes and products for which good quality steel was required. Yet other men of his time, and in his line of business, had the same opportunities but did not take them.

    The key to the success of Richard Thomas lies in his con­centration of purpose, epitomised perhaps by his insistence on total attention to business. Apart from joining the vol­unteer movement as a young man, and a brief period as a member of the Monmouth Board of Guardians, he avoided public life and dedicated himself to his business interests. The result was a great company and a memorable name.

    Men of Steel, The History of Richard Thomas and his Family, David Wainwright, Quiller Press, 1986



    From the files of Western Mail and S. Cymru Daily News, Times 30th Sept. 1916 and 11th January 1917, and The Engineer, 6th October, 1916.

    Richard Thomas, 1838-1916, industrialist; son of London metal merchant: b. at Bridgewater and educated at Wesleyan College at Taunton. He entered the tinplate trade at Margam, and was afterwards clerk-of-works during the erection of Malineryddan works 1863, near Neath.
    In 1865 he borrowed money to buy the Ynys-pen-llwch iron and tin plate works; in 1871 he rented the Lydbrook tinplate works, and in 1877 the Lydbrook colliery. The depression of 1883 forced him to compound with creditors, whom however he eventually repaid in full. In 1884 he formed with his sons the private company of Richard Thomas and Sons, and in 1888 bought the Melingriffith iron and tinplate works. The firm expanded its activities rapidly, acquiring works at Aberdare 1890, Abercan 1895, Cwmfekin 1896, Llanelly and Burry Port 1898, Cwmwrla 1898, and elsewhere 1902-8.
    By his wife Ann (Ann Loveluck) whom he had married in 1859, Thomas had 5 sons and 2 daughters. He took little part in public life but was a generous supporter of hospitals at Llanelly, Swansea, Cardiff, Newport, Ross and Lydney.

    He died 28 September, 1916 and was buried in Lydney Parish Churchyard (). His sons in September 1918 turned the firm into a public company, which continued to flourish and in 1935 acquired the Ebbw Vale steel works. By 1940 it had been merged into the firm of Richard Thomas and Baldwin Ltd.
    This is incorrect - he, Ann and 2 children were buried at Lydbrook Church, Gloucestershire, and there is a memorial window (local copy) to them and their children in the Church. However, there is a tablet in Lydney Church erected to the memory of his eldest son.


    Richard Thomas was born in Bridgwater, Somerset on 5th December 1837, into a shipping family trading between Bridgwater, South Cymru ports and Liverpool with a small fleet of sailing ships. At the age of 19 Richard was drawn to the rapidly expanding town of Cardiff starting a business as a "Coal Exporter and Commission Agent". Richard prospered and on the 18th February 1859, married Anne Loveluck, a daughter of a local Farmer, belonging to an influential local family. A Miner strike soon placed Richard's business venture in jeopardy and he moved with his wife to work in a partnership with his uncle, a Draper, at Oxford. There his first child, Richard Beaumont was born 25th May 1860. Not being happy with working in the drapery trade, he left Oxford and became the Works Manager for his father who was a partner in a colliery and firebrick works at Briton Ferry. Shortly afterwards he was recruited by Philip W Flower an Ironmaster. Richard became the accountant and sub-manager of the Melyn Tin and Iron Works at Neath where he remained for four years. Richard then persuaded a group of business men to form a limited company to take over an iron works on the point of closure at Ynispenllwch. Even though the works became very successful, Richard became frustrated at only being the General Manager and Secretary.

    In 1871, Richard moved into the Forest of Den where he found the Lydbrook Iron Works, built in 1806 by Thomas Allaway, a tenant of the Partridge family, lying idle. Richard leased the works and his own venture proved highly successful. The village of Lydbrook was situated in a thickly wooded valley through which flowed the Lyd brook which gave the village its name. Upper Lydbrook was in the Forest proper, whilst Lower Lydbrook is where the brook empties into the Wye. The works were situated in the valley to make the most of the water power. The Thomas family settled into the Poplars, of which some parts remain as the local Memorial Hall. In March 1875, Richard expanded his business leasing the Lydney Works. In the first few months of 1883, due to money problems (caused by the flooding of the Lydbrook Colliery, which Richard also owned), both works were closed. The Bank had every confidence in Richard, and a new company was floated "Richard Thomas and Company" 12th September 1884. Richard stepped aside in favour of his eldest son, Richard Beaumont becoming Managing Director. Richard was not idle and in 1888 the Melingriffin Works were acquired. Despite the McKinley tariff imposed in the USA on tin sheet imports, the Richard Thomas Co. was able to withstand the resulting recession. In the late 1890s, despite strikes, and the misfortune of others, the careful management of resources by the Thomas family allowed the business to continue to grow. Tin Works after Tin Works were acquired as the company grew and expanded in South Cymru. Even though the Richard Thomas Company had become a large British firm and a major player in the steel industry, Lydbrook was always considered the birthplace of his Company.
    Richard and Anne experienced their share of sadness and disappointments, and early childhood illnesses took their toll of six of their children. The East Window of Lydbrook Church was given to the Church, by Richard and Anne in memory of those children. The original inscription of 1908 commemorates, William George, Sydney Loveluck and Ann Lillian, interred at Lydbrook Churchyard, Samuel Treherne and Alfred Ivor, interred at Lantwit, Neath, and Stanley Rendell, interred at the English Cemetery, Rome.

    Richard and Anne were graced with a long life together and had seen their Golden Wedding Anniversary in 1909. Richard Thomas went to his rest, after a full and successful life on the 28th September 1916, having outlived his wife who died two years earlier. He was laid to rest in Lydbrook Churchyard.

    During the latter part of the War, in 1944 the Richard Thomas Company merged with Baldwins, to become, Richard Thomas & Baldwins. In 1947 this Company became the basis for the Steel company of Cymru. From its beginnings in Lydbrook, the company had aquired, or built 294 tinplate mills and 81 sheet mills. Nationalised in 1950, the Company became a constituent part of the British Steel Corporation through the Iron and Steel Act of 1967.



    The East window commemorates the Thomas Family famous for his national industrial achievements in the founding of the South Cymru Steel Industry, and having begun in a modest way at the Lydbrook Tin Works.
    The Window depicts the four Evangelists - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, with Christ the King at the centre. Below each of the Evangelists is an Angel holding a shield portraying the Evangelist's symbol. Below Christ are two Angels holding a shield bearing his name. Above the Risen Christ is the Holy Spirit in the form of a Dove radiating down. To each side of the Dove is an Angel, respectively holding shields bearing the initials Alpha and Omega. The window is at least 18½ foot in height and 9 foot in width.
    Originally the Window was provided by Richard and Ann Thomas in memory of six of their children which had died. The original inscription on the brass plaque ran "To the Glory of God, and in memory of the following members of the Thomas Family - William George, Sydney Loveluck and Ann Lillian, who rest in this Churchyard, Samuel Treherne and Alfred Ivor, interred at Lantwit, Neath, and Stanley Rendell, interred at the English Cemetery, Rome". The Window was dedicated October 20th 1908 by the Bishop of Gloucester.
    Sometime after 1917, with the deaths of Richard (1916) and Ann Thomas (1914), and Richard Beaumont (1917) and Elizabeth Mabel their Children, a new plaque replaced the original with the additional names.
    The East Window today.
    Sadly, over the years the cement holding the lead to the glass has deteriorated, and now the window lets in the elements, and is in need of repair. At least £12,000 are needed for these repairs. So far £3,500 has been raised and help is needed in raising the rest of the cash.
    Appeal.
    If you can help, please send any donation to: The Reverend Michael Foster, Lydbrook Vicarage, Church Road, Lydbrook, Gloucestershire, GL17 9SW. Cheques made out to The Lydbrook Church East Window Fund.
    --------------------------------

    The Tinplate, Steel, and Coal Industries
    By L W Evans
    "These are the three industries that flourished markedly in the county during the second half of the 19th century. But to understand their origins and development, we must return first of all, to the early days of the industrial period, when the ironworks were migrating to the edge of the coalfield and adopting coal for smelting purposes. With this change, many of the smaller inland ironworks went out of production, and there was a marked localisation of new ironworks, both on the anthracite and the 'Llanelly' coalfields.
    1. The Iron and Early Tinplate Industry
    The ironworks which declined in importance were those at Cwmdwyfran, Cwmbran, Whitland Abbey, and Llandyfan. The ironworks at Kidwelly and Carmarthen had commenced making tinplates with a great measure of success and were the sole representatives of this industry for the first half of the 19th century in Carmarthenshire.
    Probably the earliest anthracite colliery in the county was that owned by Kymer of Kidwelly, which produced appreciable amounts of this coal in the last two decades of the 18th century. His colliery was just outside Kidwelly at Forest, and he built a canal to convey the coal to Kidwelly quay. From 1800 onwards, experiments were made in the utilisation of anthracite as a fuel in smelting operations, and after 1838 ironworks were established on the anthracite coalfield.
    In 1800 Alexander Raby of Llanelly had used Llanelly coal from Penyfinglawdd (Llanelly) in his blast furnace, and in 1817, in conjunction with Simons, opened anthracite collieries in the Gwendraeth valley. Raby's experiments with the use of coal for iron-smelting were , however, not a success. Since 1784, when Henry Cort obtained two patents, one for puddling and the other for the rolling of iron, the iron industry had expanded considerably. Another important advance had been the introduction of the steam engine. This invention helped the mining industry, which in turn produced coal for the smelting industries. Before 1800, therefore, there had been going on careful preparations in the way of new processes and inventions, which created a profound change in the iron industry. From 1800 a new era commenced in the history of the manufacture of iron from the more general use made by the iron masters of the double-power engine devised by Watt.
    The main results of the use of the steam-engine were the greater producing capacity of the furnaces and the expenditure of more capital by the proprietors. In 1817, Raby and Simons erected the first steam-engine in the Gwendraeth valley for raising coal, which was sent down to Llanelly for export, though ' a great deal found favour in the immediate district for domestic use'.
    The successful use of anthracite coal in the manufacture of pig-iron dates from 1838. About this time Neilson brought out his process of smelting iron by means of the hot-blast, and anthracite coal was admirable for this purpose. In 1839 there were 26 furnaces in operation on the anthracite coalfield producing 65,780 tons of anthracite pig-iron. The position in 1848 is indicated by the following table;
    Name of works Owners Furnaces; Built Furnaces; In blast
    Gwendraeth T Watney & Co 3 2
    Trimsaran E H Thomas 2 0
    Brynamman L Llewellyn & Co 2 2
    These furnaces produced more than 4,000 tons of anthracite pig-iron per furnace pa. For a number of years this production was well maintained. There are no returns after 1851. In 1859 the Amman ironworks passed into the hands of G B Strick and Co. The first ironworks to be built in the Llanelly area during the period 1800-50 were those at Dafen, about a mile and a half to the north-east of the town. They were built by Messrs Motley and Winkworth in 1846. The works had a number of puddling and ball furnaces (ffwrneisi bach), and a mechanical hammer for beating the bars into plates. In 1856, Messrs Phillips, Smith & Co acquired the works , and in 1869 the firm was known as Phillips, Nunes & C0. The pig-iron was still made in the puddling furnace, and the iron formed into balls and treated with the hammer before passing to the mills.
    The Kidwelly works were rebuilt in 1801 by Messrs Haselwood, Hathaway and Perkins, and a few years later passed to Messrs Vaughan Hay and Downman. In 1830, Hay, Thomas and Co were the owners, and in 1850 they were directed by H H Downman and Messrs Richet and James. Downman also had interests in the Carmarthen tinworks, for in 1838 there is reference to a lease to Messrs Henry Ridout Downman and H H Downman. In 1850 the Carmarthen tinworks passed to Wayne and Co.
    Between 1850 and 1875 the iron industries heralded the tinplate and steel industries of the last half of the 19th century. South-east Carmarthenshire became a highly industrialised region. The early efforts of the iron-masters at the beginning and the pioneers of the Llanelly and anthracite coalfields had, long before, started a tradition of industrial development, which was further emphasised by the establishment in the area of other metallurgical industries and the complete development of the Llanelly Coalfield after 1850. After this date, other ironworks came into the area, and with the invention of new processes in the production of steel-bar, these ironworks turned to the manufacture of tinplates.
    Between 1850 and 1870, when the non-ferrous industries reached their maximum development, numerous ironworks were established in and around Llanelly. In addition to the foundries, one or two of the ironworks had started making tinplates. Ironworking had been started in this area in the last decade of the 18th century and its resuscitation in the middle of the 19th century is significant for two reasons;
    a) The ironworks started the tinplate industry
    b) The tinplate and steel industries replaced the languishing non-ferrous industries which had made the area so important since 1804.
    Among the important factors contributing to the establishment of the ironworks were the coal supplies of the district; proximity to tidal waters; abundant supplies of fresh water, and relatively cheap sites on marshy ground near the docks.
    The ironworks established in the Llanelly district around the mid century were as follows;
    Dafen; 1847
    Morfa; 1851
    Old Lodge; 1852
    Marshfield (Western); 1863
    Old Castle; 1866
    Each of these works had furnaces and forges. Most of them made tinplates, but one of them --- the Old Lodge--- made only bar-iron. The Morfa works were built in 1851 by Octavius Williams for John S Tregonning and Co. Two mills and a tinning plant were erected, and later Williams left to erect the Hendy works, near Pontardulais. In 1857, a forge was added for the manufacture of charcoal iron, and in 1872, two mills and a second charcoal forge were added, and other extensions carried out. In 1885, two steel furnaces were erected.
    The Old Lodge Ironworks were built by Messrs William Nevill and J Thomas, but no tinplates were made until Morris started their manufacture there in 1880.
    The Marshfield Ironworks were erected by Messrs Nevill, Everitt and Co in 1863, but closed down in 1879. In December the same year, the Western Tinplate Co was formed.
    The Old castle Iron Co was started in 1866 by Messrs Maybery, Thomas, Rosser and Samuel. These works made their own iron until 1886. The original two mills were built on the site of an early British fortification called Pen Castell, from which the works were named. 'Puddled coke' was mainly used for smelting. In addition to the Llanelly area, ironworks were established in the anthracite coalfield after 1838, and these were still important after the mid-century.
    Furnaces built Furnaces in blast Pig-iron
    1868 Brynamman Henry Strick & Co 3 2 ---
    Gwendraeth Daniel Watney 3 - ---
    Amman Valley Amman Iron Co 6 (puddling furnaces) 3 (rolling mills) ---
    1876 Amman valley Amman Iron Co 7 (puddling furnaces) 3 (rolling mills) ---
    When the Amman Valley works went over to tinplate manufacture they specialised in the making of blackplates, and this may be correlated with the long established iron industry of that valley. When the local blackband ore was used these ironworks were flourishing. When the utilisation of this ore was discontinued, new processes came into being which could not utilise the local low-content phosphoric ores, so that imported ores took their place after 1875. This marks the beginning of the establishment of steelworks along the seaboard."
    2. The Tinplate and Steel Industries
    "The inventions of Siemens-Martin and Bessemer revolutionised the tinplate industry. Until about 1870, most of the iron made in the tinplate works of South Wales was either pig-iron or wrought-iron, made from pig-iron in a puddling furnace. It was from wrought-iron that steel was first made, though very occasionally. On account of the length of the operation, and the expense of steel, it did not come into general use. In 1851, Bessemer invented a method of making steel on a large scale, and therefore the cost of production was lowered. A second method of steel manufacture, the open hearth system, devised by Siemens and Martin in the works at Landore, near Swansea, was introduced at a later date. The steel industry became more and more dependent on imported ores, with the result that the centres of these industries became established on the seaboard. The main centres are at Llanelly, Swansea, Aberavon, and Briton Ferry.
    It has been noted that after 1870 there were changes in the methods of manufacturing the raw material for the tinplate industry. The raw material of the industry before 1870 had been iron, made usually in charcoal forges, and puddling furnaces attached to the tinplate works. Just before 1875, the Bessemer method of steel manufacture was introduced, and Siemens produced a kind of steel suitable for rolling into tinplates. Eventually, steelworks were erected in the Llanelly and Swansea areas to produce Siemens steel; these steelworks worked as feeders to the adjacent tinplate works. From that time onwards, the tinplate manufacturers required tin bars (flat bars of steel) which led to a further concentration of the tinplate industry in the Llanelly and Swansea districts. Thus , in the peak year, 1891, there were twenty works (119 mills) in Carmarthenshire and fifty-one works (277 mills) in Glamorgan; and only eleven works (86 mills) in Monmouthshire.
    Another reason for the concentration of the steel and tinplate industries on the seaboard was the heavy importation of the richer ores of Spain and other countries, bringing these heavy industries in close proximity to tidal waters.
    An equally important reason for localisation was the presence of chemical industries in the region. The smelting of copper in the area had started one or two important side-industries, one of those being the manufacture of sulphuric acid. Large amounts of this acid are used in tinplate manufacture, and it could therefore be obtained at a relatively cheap rate. One other vital factor was the availability of fresh water. Water is indispensable to the tinplate industry, and in this region there are abundant supplies from rivers and artificial reservoirs. Finally, advantageous road and rail transport to the ports for export, and to the Midlands and London, where sheet, blackplates, and terneplates are largely used, is another advantage. In addition to the tinworks mentioned in the previous section, the following were also erected in south-east Carmarthenshire between 1866 and 1890;
    Hendy Tinplate Works Broughton, Smith 1866
    Llangennech Tinplate Works Thomas Harries 1867
    St David's, Bynea Lord Glantawe 1869
    South Wales, Llanelly Morewood, Rogers 1872
    Glamorgan Tinworks, Pontardulais (on county border) Webb, Shakespeare & Williams 1872
    Morlais Tinplate Co (Llangennech) James Griffiths & Co 1873
    Burry Tinplate Works (Llanelly) William Rosser1875
    Clayton Tinplate Works (Pontardulais) Jenkins, Bright & Williams1875
    Dynevor Tinplate Works, Pantyffynnon Williams, Stanford 1880
    Raven Sheet & Galvanising Co, Glanamman Messrs Rees & Morris 1881
    Aberlash Tinplate Works, Tirydail, Ammanford Messrs Elias, Phillips & Jones 1889
    Ashburnham Tinplate Co, Burry Port, Llanelly Lord Ashburnham, Griffiths & Bevan 1890
    The tinplate works situated in the interior (notably those at Pontardulais and in the Amman Valley) are in the actual zone of coal production, and are also favoured by low local rates, cheap fuel, and abundant water supplies. They suffer from higher transport costs and poor means of communication, often on branch lines, in marked contrast to the works on the seaboard, which are on the main lines. Furthermore, these peripheral works concentrate upon blackplate and not tinplate, and are therefore able to accept more specialised orders unacceptable to the larger works.
    It is well to describe at this juncture the important changes witnessed in the modus operandi of tinplate manufacture during the 19th century. In 1829, scaling was done away with, and sulphuric acid was used for pickling. In 1829, Thomas Morgan introduced cast-iron annealing pots as a substitute for annealing in open furnaces. Black pickling was introduced in 1849 and steam was introduced into the vitriol bath by John Cann in the same year. The year 1866 witnessed a marked step forward, when Edwin Morewood (Llanelly) and John Saunders introduced what is familiarly known as the 'Morewood pot'.
    As has already been noted, the substitution of Siemens soft steel (1875) and Bessemer steel (1880) inaugurated a trade of greater dimensions, which necessitated a more efficient organisation of the commercial aspect. In 1890 the 'washman' was relegated to the background by the introduction of patent tin-pots, and the century closed with the introduction of patent cleaning machines.
    The rapid expansion in the tinplate industry from 1870 to 1890 was due in a large measure to the monopoly of nearly all the foreign markets enjoyed by the home producers. Previous to 1891, the United States bought 75% of the South Wales output of tinplates, a demand sustained by the use of hermetically sealed tin-can containers for the packing of fruits, meat, and fish. The use of terneplates (i.e sheets of thin steel or iron coated with an alloy of lead and tin) for roofing purposes increased the demand for South Wales tinplates from 1865 to 1895. In 1883 approximately 77% of the output of the 316 mills at work was annually exported to the USA. In this year the number of and the output of the works engaged in the manufacture of tinplates were as follows. (in the book is technical output data comparing Carmarthenshire and the rest of Wales).
    The geographical distribution of the tinplate works in South-east Carmarthenshire in 1880 shows three well-marked concentrations;
    a) Around Llanelly, including Burry Port and Kidwelly
    b) The Pontardulais area, including Hendy and Llangennech
    c) The Amman Valley, including Pantyffynnon, Ammanford, Glanamman and Brynamman
    The complete list (in 1880) included 14 works with a total of 65 mills;
    Name of works Name of firm Total mills
    Avondale Avondale Tinplate Co 1
    Burry (Llanelly) Burry Tinplate Co 4
    Carmarthen Thomas lester & Co 5
    Dafen (Llanelly) Phillips, Nunes & Co 4
    Glanamman (Cwmamman) Glanamman Tinplate Co 2
    Gwendraeth (Kidwelly) J Chivers & Son 10
    Hendy (Pontardulais) E Boughton & Co 4
    Lion Tinplate Works H Thomas 2
    Llanelly John S Tregonning & Son 4
    Llangennech Llanegennech Tinplate Co 8
    Morlais (Llangennech) Llansamlet Tinplate Co 2
    Old Castle, Llanelly Old Castle Iron & Tinplate Co 6
    South Wales Llanelly E Morewood & Co 9
    Western Llanelly Western Tinplate Co 4
    (the book has a section with production figures for tinplate boxes in 1880 and other years)
    In connection with the ports that were exporting tinplate, it is important to note that Liverpool was the first in importance, with the Bristol Channel ports --- Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelly--- coming next. The great market up until 1890 was the USA, so that Liverpool merchants sent their tinplates to the States on the American liners. In the closing years of the century, the rapid developments in the South Wales coalfield, and the localisation of the chemical industries in the Swansea and Llanelly districts, resulted in many of the tinworks in Monmouthshire and West Carmarthenshire being abandoned and also the transference of the export trade in tinplates from Cardiff to Swansea. (Exports from Swansea increased from 12,420 tons in 1878 to 418,725 tons in 1890).
    The South Wales tinplate trade suffered a hard blow in 1890 when the McKinley tariff came into operation. This signified the end of the export of Welsh tinplates to the USA, and the beginning of the American tinplate industry. In spite of this the South Wales tinplate trade continued to flourish, and in 1910 approximately 370,360 tons of tinplates and blackplates were exported from the ports of South Wales to the Far East, Argentine, Brazil, Canada and France. ...........................................................
    ( the book now has a section illustrating price differences seen over time).
    We have already seen that most of the tinworks had interests in the new steelworks, because the raw material of the tinplate works was now the steel bar. A still closer association is the distinctive feature of the post 1891 period, but before we proceed to describe this it should be noted that the Carmarthen tinplate works continued to produce tinplate until 1900. The site of these works was on the spot where the early furnaces and forge were built by Robert Morgan. In 1850, the tinplate works were taken over by Messrs Wayne and Co, who specialised in the manufacture of blackplates. From 1868 until they were closed down in 1900, they were carried on by Thos Lester and Co. This was one of the earliest tinworks in the county, and in 1820 had two mills each composed of two pairs of rolls, worked by five men. The weekly production was 464 boxes and the tinplates were sold to markets in Liverpool, London, Bristol and Glasgow. The iron ores were imported from South Wales and Lancashire, and the pig-iron was made from a mixture of these ores --- this mixture having been found to produce ' a metal plate of such pliability as the iron-plates designed for tinning require'. These tinworks were a natural development from the forge at Carmarthen, but were able to carry on until 1900, in spite of the fact that larger and more modern works were built in the Llanelly area. There were abundant water supplies at Carmarthen, the coal was imported along with the ores, and for the first half of the century a fairly steady demand for a special type of plate for the French market kept the works going very successfully.
    After 1900, with the greater advance of American competition and the large imports of American and Continental steel and iron bars at a cheap rate, the Carmarthen works eventually closed down. The works were away from the ports of the south-east of the county and could not compete for orders with the coastal works, and thus there ended a great tradition of iron and tinplate manufacture extending over a period of 150 years.
    The following steel and tinplate works were erected in the period 1891-1912;
    Name of works Proprietors Date
    The Welsh Tinplate & Metal Stamping Co, Llanelly The Welsh Tinplate & Metal Stamping Co, Llanelly 1897
    The Llanelly Steel Co (1907) Ltd, Llanelly Messrs Briton Ferry Steel Co; The Old castle Tinplate Co; The Western Tinplate Co 1898
    The Wellfield Galvanising Co Llanelly ---as above--- 1908
    Glynhir Tinplate Co, Pontardulais ---as above--- 1910
    Dulais Tinplate Co, Pontardulais ---as above--- 1910
    The Pemberton Tinplate Co, Llanelly ---as above--- 1911
    The Gorse Galvanising Co, Dafen, Llanelly ---as above--- 1911
    The Bynea Steelworks, Llanelly ---as above--- 1912
    South Wales Steelworks , Llanelly R Thomas & Co, eight new mills erected in....... 1911
    (the book has two diagrams showing 'Distribution of Steel and Tinplate Works, 1935' and Distribution of Anthracite Collieries, 1935' )
    The development of the steel and tinplate industries in the Llanelly area after 1900 is intimately bound up with the importation of foreign steel and iron bars, produced at a cheaper rate in America and the Continent. Another outstanding feature was the extent to which various groupings took place among tinplate and steel works, i.e amalgamations between steel and tinplate works. This feature is a further factor in industrial development in recent years, because the steelworks specialise in the production of steel bars from pig and scrap iron for sheet and tinplate manufacture, imported at Llanelly and Burry Port. In order to appreciate these changes, evidence must be drawn from the entire metallurgical area in SW Wales. This is roughly the region contained within the triangle formed by the towns of Port Talbot, Burry Port and Ystradgynlais. Within this area there are fourteen steel works capable of an annual output of 2,800,000 tons pa. In the tinplate trade also grouping has taken place to such an extent, that of 480 mills in the trade, 389 or 81% are covered by groupings.
    The controlling body of this triangle is the South Wales Siemens Steel Association, formed in 1906, having within its membership eight firms owning and controlling fourteen steel works. The Llanelly and district works in the Association are the Llanelly Steel Co Ltd; Messrs Richard Thomas & Co Ltd; and the Bynea Steelworks Ltd. Several Llanelly tinplate works had interests in the Llanelly Steelworks, eg Dafen Tinplate Works and The Old Lodge Tinplate Works.
    In 1923 the South Wales Tinplate Corporation Ltd was registered which represented a selling organisation for a) Richard Thomas and Co Ltd (who own six works in Carmarthenshire); b) Kidwelly Tinplate Co Ltd; c) Ashburnham Tinplate Co Ltd, Burry Port; d) The Old Castle Iron and Tinplate Co Ltd, Llanelly; e) The Western Tinplate Works Ltd, Llanelly. The last four works resigned from the Corporation in 1931.
    Throughout the new century the deep-rooted tradition of production for export held the field but slowly tinplate manufacture was forced to become more diversified in character to meet the increasing demands of the home market. The growth of the automobile industry kept the tinplate trade well occupied until 1914. In addition to the manufacture of tinplates, blackplates and galvanised sheets, one firm --- the Llanelly Metal Stamping Co --- started manufacturing enamelled hollow ware. This industry makes such articles as basins, buckets, and bowls from sheet metal or steel usually by stamping and then coating with enamel.
    Between 1920 and 1930 the steel and tinplate industry had to face serious competition with foreign countries, such as Belgium, France, and Germany, who exported steel bars at 15s per ton less than Welsh steel bars. Foreign bars have literally been 'dumped' into Welsh ports and large quantities have been used by tinplate manufacturers.
    The steelworks produce steel ingots from imported pig-iron and scrap. The quantity of scrap smelted is over twice that of pig-iron and is obtained from the Midlands and the shearings and 'wasters' from the tinplate works. The transport costs of the scrap iron contribute to the high cost of home steel bars, hence the reason for the large import of foreign bars. Some protective measures for these industries were therefore vital and were forthcoming after 1930.
    At the same time new methods of manufacture were making headway, chief of which has been the manufacture of tinplate by the strip mill method. This is, in the main, an American development, and the tonnage produced by this method is rapidly increasing year by year. The major variations are mechanised mills, reversing strip mills, production of steel plates electrolytically, electrolytical tinning, and the production of the continuous narrow strip of tin only a few inches wide for direct manufacture of car bodies.
    The increased demand for steel sheets in the motor industry, together with the development of the canning industry and the demands for heavy steel in rearmament programmes, have made a marked change for the better in the fortunes of the steel and tinplate industries during the third decade of the present century. The full range of the diversified character of the modern period can be gathered from the fact that one Llanelly brewery --- the Felinfoel Brewery Co--- has commenced canning beer. The tinplate is obtained from the St David's Tinplate Co, Llanelly, and the lacquered containers made by the Metal Box Co for the firm. Other works in the region supply the home market with tinplate to firms such as Heinz, to biscuit manufacturers at Reading, and to the fruit-canning factory opened at Worcester in 1930. In 1932, the Gorse Tinplate Works, Llanelly, started to make building requisites, such as gutters, rain-water and drain pipes from sheet metal, which is welded and coated with a special kind of vitreous enamel in several colours. This product is called Vitreflux, which, owing to its power of withstanding weather conditions is now in steady demand on the market. Thus since 1932 the home market for tinplates in Britain has consumed an ever increasing proportion of the total output. In that year it amounted to 35.61 % of the total output; in 1933 37.9%; 1934 42.26%; 1935 47.33%; and in 1936 it reached 51%, thus for the first time outstripping the proportion exported."

    (in the book is a photograph 'Modern Industrial Llanelly, 1935)

    ..............................

    The Tinplate, Steel, and Coal Industries
    By L W Evans
    "These are the three industries that flourished markedly in the county during the second half of the 19th century. But to understand their origins and development, we must return first of all, to the early days of the industrial period, when the ironworks were migrating to the edge of the coalfield and adopting coal for smelting purposes. With this change, many of the smaller inland ironworks went out of production, and there was a marked localisation of new ironworks, both on the anthracite and the 'Llanelly' coalfields.
    1. The Iron and Early Tinplate Industry
    The ironworks which declined in importance were those at Cwmdwyfran, Cwmbran, Whitland Abbey, and Llandyfan. The ironworks at Kidwelly and Carmarthen had commenced making tinplates with a great measure of success and were the sole representatives of this industry for the first half of the 19th century in Carmarthenshire.
    Probably the earliest anthracite colliery in the county was that owned by Kymer of Kidwelly, which produced appreciable amounts of this coal in the last two decades of the 18th century. His colliery was just outside Kidwelly at Forest, and he built a canal to convey the coal to Kidwelly quay. From 1800 onwards, experiments were made in the utilisation of anthracite as a fuel in smelting operations, and after 1838 ironworks were established on the anthracite coalfield.
    In 1800 Alexander Raby of Llanelly had used Llanelly coal from Penyfinglawdd (Llanelly) in his blast furnace, and in 1817, in conjunction with Simons, opened anthracite collieries in the Gwendraeth valley. Raby's experiments with the use of coal for iron-smelting were , however, not a success. Since 1784, when Henry Cort obtained two patents, one for puddling and the other for the rolling of iron, the iron industry had expanded considerably. Another important advance had been the introduction of the steam engine. This invention helped the mining industry, which in turn produced coal for the smelting industries. Before 1800, therefore, there had been going on careful preparations in the way of new processes and inventions, which created a profound change in the iron industry. From 1800 a new era commenced in the history of the manufacture of iron from the more general use made by the iron masters of the double-power engine devised by Watt.
    The main results of the use of the steam-engine were the greater producing capacity of the furnaces and the expenditure of more capital by the proprietors. In 1817, Raby and Simons erected the first steam-engine in the Gwendraeth valley for raising coal, which was sent down to Llanelly for export, though ' a great deal found favour in the immediate district for domestic use'.
    The successful use of anthracite coal in the manufacture of pig-iron dates from 1838. About this time Neilson brought out his process of smelting iron by means of the hot-blast, and anthracite coal was admirable for this purpose. In 1839 there were 26 furnaces in operation on the anthracite coalfield producing 65,780 tons of anthracite pig-iron. The position in 1848 is indicated by the following table;
    Name of works Owners Furnaces; Built Furnaces; In blast
    Gwendraeth T Watney & Co 3 2
    Trimsaran E H Thomas 2 0
    Brynamman L Llewellyn & Co 2 2
    These furnaces produced more than 4,000 tons of anthracite pig-iron per furnace pa. For a number of years this production was well maintained. There are no returns after 1851. In 1859 the Amman ironworks passed into the hands of G B Strick and Co. The first ironworks to be built in the Llanelly area during the period 1800-50 were those at Dafen, about a mile and a half to the north-east of the town. They were built by Messrs Motley and Winkworth in 1846. The works had a number of puddling and ball furnaces (ffwrneisi bach), and a mechanical hammer for beating the bars into plates. In 1856, Messrs Phillips, Smith & Co acquired the works , and in 1869 the firm was known as Phillips, Nunes & C0. The pig-iron was still made in the puddling furnace, and the iron formed into balls and treated with the hammer before passing to the mills.
    The Kidwelly works were rebuilt in 1801 by Messrs Haselwood, Hathaway and Perkins, and a few years later passed to Messrs Vaughan Hay and Downman. In 1830, Hay, Thomas and Co were the owners, and in 1850 they were directed by H H Downman and Messrs Richet and James. Downman also had interests in the Carmarthen tinworks, for in 1838 there is reference to a lease to Messrs Henry Ridout Downman and H H Downman. In 1850 the Carmarthen tinworks passed to Wayne and Co.
    Between 1850 and 1875 the iron industries heralded the tinplate and steel industries of the last half of the 19th century. South-east Carmarthenshire became a highly industrialised region. The early efforts of the iron-masters at the beginning and the pioneers of the Llanelly and anthracite coalfields had, long before, started a tradition of industrial development, which was further emphasised by the establishment in the area of other metallurgical industries and the complete development of the Llanelly Coalfield after 1850. After this date, other ironworks came into the area, and with the invention of new processes in the production of steel-bar, these ironworks turned to the manufacture of tinplates.
    Between 1850 and 1870, when the non-ferrous industries reached their maximum development, numerous ironworks were established in and around Llanelly. In addition to the foundries, one or two of the ironworks had started making tinplates. Ironworking had been started in this area in the last decade of the 18th century and its resuscitation in the middle of the 19th century is significant for two reasons;
    · a) The ironworks started the tinplate industry
    · b) The tinplate and steel industries replaced the languishing non-ferrous industries which had made the area so important since 1804.
    Among the important factors contributing to the establishment of the ironworks were the coal supplies of the district; proximity to tidal waters; abundant supplies of fresh water, and relatively cheap sites on marshy ground near the docks.
    The ironworks established in the Llanelly district around the mid century were as follows;
    · Dafen; 1847
    · Morfa; 1851
    · Old Lodge; 1852
    · Marshfield (Western); 1863
    · Old Castle; 1866
    Each of these works had furnaces and forges. Most of them made tinplates, but one of them --- the Old Lodge--- made only bar-iron. The Morfa works were built in 1851 by Octavius Williams for John S Tregonning and Co. Two mills and a tinning plant were erected, and later Williams left to erect the Hendy works, near Pontardulais. In 1857, a forge was added for the manufacture of charcoal iron, and in 1872, two mills and a second charcoal forge were added, and other extensions carried out. In 1885, two steel furnaces were erected.
    The Old Lodge Ironworks were built by Messrs William Nevill and J Thomas, but no tinplates were made until Morris started their manufacture there in 1880.
    The Marshfield Ironworks were erected by Messrs Nevill, Everitt and Co in 1863, but closed down in 1879. In December the same year, the Western Tinplate Co was formed.
    The Old castle Iron Co was started in 1866 by Messrs Maybery, Thomas, Rosser and Samuel. These works made their own iron until 1886. The original two mills were built on the site of an early British fortification called Pen Castell, from which the works were named. 'Puddled coke' was mainly used for smelting. In addition to the Llanelly area, ironworks were established in the anthracite coalfield after 1838, and these were still important after the mid-century.
    Furnaces built Furnaces in blast Pig-iron
    1868 Brynamman Henry Strick & Co 3 2 ---
    Gwendraeth Daniel Watney 3 - ---
    Amman Valley Amman Iron Co 6 (puddling furnaces) 3 (rolling mills) ---
    1876 Amman valley Amman Iron Co 7 (puddling furnaces) 3 (rolling mills) ---
    When the Amman Valley works went over to tinplate manufacture they specialised in the making of blackplates, and this may be correlated with the long established iron industry of that valley. When the local blackband ore was used these ironworks were flourishing. When the utilisation of this ore was discontinued, new processes came into being which could not utilise the local low-content phosphoric ores, so that imported ores took their place after 1875. This marks the beginning of the establishment of steelworks along the seaboard."
    2. The Tinplate and Steel Industries
    "The inventions of Siemens-Martin and Bessemer revolutionised the tinplate industry. Until about 1870, most of the iron made in the tinplate works of South Wales was either pig-iron or wrought-iron, made from pig-iron in a puddling furnace. It was from wrought-iron that steel was first made, though very occasionally. On account of the length of the operation, and the expense of steel, it did not come into general use. In 1851, Bessemer invented a method of making steel on a large scale, and therefore the cost of production was lowered. A second method of steel manufacture, the open hearth system, devised by Siemens and Martin in the works at Landore, near Swansea, was introduced at a later date. The steel industry became more and more dependent on imported ores, with the result that the centres of these industries became established on the seaboard. The main centres are at Llanelly, Swansea, Aberavon, and Briton Ferry.
    It has been noted that after 1870 there were changes in the methods of manufacturing the raw material for the tinplate industry. The raw material of the industry before 1870 had been iron, made usually in charcoal forges, and puddling furnaces attached to the tinplate works. Just before 1875, the Bessemer method of steel manufacture was introduced, and Siemens produced a kind of steel suitable for rolling into tinplates. Eventually, steelworks were erected in the Llanelly and Swansea areas to produce Siemens steel; these steelworks worked as feeders to the adjacent tinplate works. From that time onwards, the tinplate manufacturers required tin bars (flat bars of steel) which led to a further concentration of the tinplate industry in the Llanelly and Swansea districts. Thus , in the peak year, 1891, there were twenty works (119 mills) in Carmarthenshire and fifty-one works (277 mills) in Glamorgan; and only eleven works (86 mills) in Monmouthshire.
    Another reason for the concentration of the steel and tinplate industries on the seaboard was the heavy importation of the richer ores of Spain and other countries, bringing these heavy industries in close proximity to tidal waters.
    An equally important reason for localisation was the presence of chemical industries in the region. The smelting of copper in the area had started one or two important side-industries, one of those being the manufacture of sulphuric acid. Large amounts of this acid are used in tinplate manufacture, and it could therefore be obtained at a relatively cheap rate. One other vital factor was the availability of fresh water. Water is indispensable to the tinplate industry, and in this region there are abundant supplies from rivers and artificial reservoirs. Finally, advantageous road and rail transport to the ports for export, and to the Midlands and London, where sheet, blackplates, and terneplates are largely used, is another advantage. In addition to the tinworks mentioned in the previous section, the following were also erected in south-east Carmarthenshire between 1866 and 1890;
    Hendy Tinplate Works Broughton, Smith 1866
    Llangennech Tinplate Works Thomas Harries 1867
    St David's, Bynea Lord Glantawe 1869
    South Wales, Llanelly Morewood, Rogers 1872
    Glamorgan Tinworks, Pontardulais (on county border) Webb, Shakespeare & Williams 1872
    Morlais Tinplate Co (Llangennech) James Griffiths & Co 1873
    Burry Tinplate Works (Llanelly) William Rosser 1875
    Clayton Tinplate Works (Pontardulais) Jenkins, Bright & Williams 1875
    Dynevor Tinplate Works, Pantyffynnon Williams, Stanford 1880
    Raven Sheet & Galvanising Co, Glanamman Messrs Rees & Morris 1881
    Aberlash Tinplate Works, Tirydail, Ammanford Messrs Elias, Phillips & Jones 1889
    Ashburnham Tinplate Co, Burry Port, Llanelly Lord Ashburnham, Griffiths & Bevan 1890
    The tinplate works situated in the interior (notably those at Pontardulais and in the Amman Valley) are in the actual zone of coal production, and are also favoured by low local rates, cheap fuel, and abundant water supplies. They suffer from higher transport costs and poor means of communication, often on branch lines, in marked contrast to the works on the seaboard, which are on the main lines. Furthermore, these peripheral works concentrate upon blackplate and not tinplate, and are therefore able to accept more specialised orders unacceptable to the larger works.
    It is well to describe at this juncture the important changes witnessed in the modus operandi of tinplate manufacture during the 19th century. In 1829, scaling was done away with, and sulphuric acid was used for pickling. In 1829, Thomas Morgan introduced cast-iron annealing pots as a substitute for annealing in open furnaces. Black pickling was introduced in 1849 and steam was introduced into the vitriol bath by John Cann in the same year. The year 1866 witnessed a marked step forward, when Edwin Morewood (Llanelly) and John Saunders introduced what is familiarly known as the 'Morewood pot'.
    As has already been noted, the substitution of Siemens soft steel (1875) and Bessemer steel (1880) inaugurated a trade of greater dimensions, which necessitated a more efficient organisation of the commercial aspect. In 1890 the 'washman' was relegated to the background by the introduction of patent tin-pots, and the century closed with the introduction of patent cleaning machines.
    The rapid expansion in the tinplate industry from 1870 to 1890 was due in a large measure to the monopoly of nearly all the foreign markets enjoyed by the home producers. Previous to 1891, the United States bought 75% of the South Wales output of tinplates, a demand sustained by the use of hermetically sealed tin-can containers for the packing of fruits, meat, and fish. The use of terneplates (i.e sheets of thin steel or iron coated with an alloy of lead and tin) for roofing purposes increased the demand for South Wales tinplates from 1865 to 1895. In 1883 approximately 77% of the output of the 316 mills at work was annually exported to the USA. In this year the number of and the output of the works engaged in the manufacture of tinplates were as follows. (in the book is technical output data comparing Carmarthenshire and the rest of Wales).
    The geographical distribution of the tinplate works in South-east Carmarthenshire in 1880 shows three well-marked concentrations;
    · a) Around Llanelly, including Burry Port and Kidwelly
    · b) The Pontardulais area, including Hendy and Llangennech
    · c) The Amman Valley, including Pantyffynnon, Ammanford, Glanamman and Brynamman
    The complete list (in 1880) included 14 works with a total of 65 mills;
    Name of works Name of firm Total mills
    Avondale Avondale Tinplate Co 1
    Burry (Llanelly) Burry Tinplate Co 4
    Carmarthen Thomas lester & Co 5
    Dafen (Llanelly) Phillips, Nunes & Co 4
    Glanamman (Cwmamman) Glanamman Tinplate Co 2
    Gwendraeth (Kidwelly) J Chivers & Son 10
    Hendy (Pontardulais) E Boughton & Co 4
    Lion Tinplate Works H Thomas 2
    Llanelly John S Tregonning & Son 4
    Llangennech Llanegennech Tinplate Co 8
    Morlais (Llangennech) Llansamlet Tinplate Co 2
    Old Castle, Llanelly Old Castle Iron & Tinplate Co 6
    South Wales Llanelly E Morewood & Co 9
    Western Llanelly Western Tinplate Co 4
    (the book has a section with production figures for tinplate boxes in 1880 and other years)
    In connection with the ports that were exporting tinplate, it is important to note that Liverpool was the first in importance, with the Bristol Channel ports --- Cardiff, Swansea and Llanelly--- coming next. The great market up until 1890 was the USA, so that Liverpool merchants sent their tinplates to the States on the American liners. In the closing years of the century, the rapid developments in the South Wales coalfield, and the localisation of the chemical industries in the Swansea and Llanelly districts, resulted in many of the tinworks in Monmouthshire and West Carmarthenshire being abandoned and also the transference of the export trade in tinplates from Cardiff to Swansea. (Exports from Swansea increased from 12,420 tons in 1878 to 418,725 tons in 1890).
    The South Wales tinplate trade suffered a hard blow in 1890 when the McKinley tariff came into operation. This signified the end of the export of Welsh tinplates to the USA, and the beginning of the American tinplate industry. In spite of this the South Wales tinplate trade continued to flourish, and in 1910 approximately 370,360 tons of tinplates and blackplates were exported from the ports of South Wales to the Far East, Argentine, Brazil, Canada and France. ...........................................................( the book now has a section illustrating price differences seen over time).
    We have already seen that most of the tinworks had interests in the new steelworks, because the raw material of the tinplate works was now the steel bar. A still closer association is the distinctive feature of the post 1891 period, but before we proceed to describe this it should be noted that the Carmarthen tinplate works continued to produce tinplate until 1900. The site of these works was on the spot where the early furnaces and forge were built by Robert Morgan. In 1850, the tinplate works were taken over by Messrs Wayne and Co, who specialised in the manufacture of blackplates. From 1868 until they were closed down in 1900, they were carried on by Thos Lester and Co. This was one of the earliest tinworks in the county, and in 1820 had two mills each composed of two pairs of rolls, worked by five men. The weekly production was 464 boxes and the tinplates were sold to markets in Liverpool, London, Bristol and Glasgow. The iron ores were imported from South Wales and Lancashire, and the pig-iron was made from a mixture of these ores --- this mixture having been found to produce ' a metal plate of such pliability as the iron-plates designed for tinning require'. These tinworks were a natural development from the forge at Carmarthen, but were able to carry on until 1900, in spite of the fact that larger and more modern works were built in the Llanelly area. There were abundant water supplies at Carmarthen, the coal was imported along with the ores, and for the first half of the century a fairly steady demand for a special type of plate for the French market kept the works going very successfully.
    After 1900, with the greater advance of American competition and the large imports of American and Continental steel and iron bars at a cheap rate, the Carmarthen works eventually closed down. The works were away from the ports of the south-east of the county and could not compete for orders with the coastal works, and thus there ended a great tradition of iron and tinplate manufacture extending over a period of 150 years.
    The following steel and tinplate works were erected in the period 1891-1912;
    Name of works Proprietors Date
    The Welsh Tinplate & Metal Stamping Co, Llanelly The Welsh Tinplate & Metal Stamping Co, Llanelly 1897
    The Llanelly Steel Co (1907) Ltd, Llanelly Messrs Briton Ferry Steel Co; The Old castle Tinplate Co; The Western Tinplate Co 1898
    The Wellfield Galvanising Co Llanelly ---as above--- 1908
    Glynhir Tinplate Co, Pontardulais ---as above--- 1910
    Dulais Tinplate Co, Pontardulais ---as above--- 1910
    The Pemberton Tinplate Co, Llanelly ---as above--- 1911
    The Gorse Galvanising Co, Dafen, Llanelly ---as above--- 1911
    The Bynea Steelworks, Llanelly ---as above--- 1912
    South Wales Steelworks , Llanelly R Thomas & Co, eight new mills erected in....... 1911
    (the book has two diagrams showing 'Distribution of Steel and Tinplate Works, 1935' and Distribution of Anthracite Collieries, 1935' )
    The development of the steel and tinplate industries in the Llanelly area after 1900 is intimately bound up with the importation of foreign steel and iron bars, produced at a cheaper rate in America and the Continent. Another outstanding feature was the extent to which various groupings took place among tinplate and steel works, i.e amalgamations between steel and tinplate works. This feature is a further factor in industrial development in recent years, because the steelworks specialise in the production of steel bars from pig and scrap iron for sheet and tinplate manufacture, imported at Llanelly and Burry Port. In order to appreciate these changes, evidence must be drawn from the entire metallurgical area in SW Wales. This is roughly the region contained within the triangle formed by the towns of Port Talbot, Burry Port and Ystradgynlais. Within this area there are fourteen steel works capable of an annual output of 2,800,000 tons pa. In the tinplate trade also grouping has taken place to such an extent, that of 480 mills in the trade, 389 or 81% are covered by groupings.
    The controlling body of this triangle is the South Wales Siemens Steel Association, formed in 1906, having within its membership eight firms owning and controlling fourteen steel works. The Llanelly and district works in the Association are the Llanelly Steel Co Ltd; Messrs Richard Thomas & Co Ltd; and the Bynea Steelworks Ltd. Several Llanelly tinplate works had interests in the Llanelly Steelworks, eg Dafen Tinplate Works and The Old Lodge Tinplate Works.
    In 1923 the South Wales Tinplate Corporation Ltd was registered which represented a selling organisation for a) Richard Thomas and Co Ltd (who own six works in Carmarthenshire); b) Kidwelly Tinplate Co Ltd; c) Ashburnham Tinplate Co Ltd, Burry Port; d) The Old Castle Iron and Tinplate Co Ltd, Llanelly; e) The Western Tinplate Works Ltd, Llanelly. The last four works resigned from the Corporation in 1931.
    Throughout the new century the deep-rooted tradition of production for export held the field but slowly tinplate manufacture was forced to become more diversified in character to meet the increasing demands of the home market. The growth of the automobile industry kept the tinplate trade well occupied until 1914. In addition to the manufacture of tinplates, blackplates and galvanised sheets, one firm --- the Llanelly Metal Stamping Co --- started manufacturing enamelled hollow ware. This industry makes such articles as basins, buckets, and bowls from sheet metal or steel usually by stamping and then coating with enamel.
    Between 1920 and 1930 the steel and tinplate industry had to face serious competition with foreign countries, such as Belgium, France, and Germany, who exported steel bars at 15s per ton less than Welsh steel bars. Foreign bars have literally been 'dumped' into Welsh ports and large quantities have been used by tinplate manufacturers.
    The steelworks produce steel ingots from imported pig-iron and scrap. The quantity of scrap smelted is over twice that of pig-iron and is obtained from the Midlands and the shearings and 'wasters' from the tinplate works. The transport costs of the scrap iron contribute to the high cost of home steel bars, hence the reason for the large import of foreign bars. Some protective measures for these industries were therefore vital and were forthcoming after 1930.
    At the same time new methods of manufacture were making headway, chief of which has been the manufacture of tinplate by the strip mill method. This is, in the main, an American development, and the tonnage produced by this method is rapidly increasing year by year. The major variations are mechanised mills, reversing strip mills, production of steel plates electrolytically, electrolytical tinning, and the production of the continuous narrow strip of tin only a few inches wide for direct manufacture of car bodies.
    The increased demand for steel sheets in the motor industry, together with the development of the canning industry and the demands for heavy steel in rearmament programmes, have made a marked change for the better in the fortunes of the steel and tinplate industries during the third decade of the present century. The full range of the diversified character of the modern period can be gathered from the fact that one Llanelly brewery --- the Felinfoel Brewery Co--- has commenced canning beer. The tinplate is obtained from the St David's Tinplate Co, Llanelly, and the lacquered containers made by the Metal Box Co for the firm. Other works in the region supply the home market with tinplate to firms such as Heinz, to biscuit manufacturers at Reading, and to the fruit-canning factory opened at Worcester in 1930. In 1932, the Gorse Tinplate Works, Llanelly, started to make building requisites, such as gutters, rain-water and drain pipes from sheet metal, which is welded and coated with a special kind of vitreous enamel in several colours. This product is called Vitreflux, which, owing to its power of withstanding weather conditions is now in steady demand on the market. Thus since 1932 the home market for tinplates in Britain has consumed an ever increasing proportion of the total output. In that year it amounted to 35.61 % of the total output; in 1933 37.9%; 1934 42.26%; 1935 47.33%; and in 1936 it reached 51%, thus for the first time outstripping the proportion exported."
    (in the book is a photograph 'Modern Industrial Llanelly, 1935)
    3. The Anthracite Coal-Mining Industry
    Up until 1800, the mining of anthracite coal had been limited to 'scourings' on the outcrops, and there was no deep mining. It was not until about 1815 that the steam engine was introduced into the Gwendraeth Valley and real coal mining started in earnest. Before the time of the steam engine and the opening up of the mines on a large scale, anthracite coal was used for lime-burning. This had been carried on even in the very early part of the 18th century, when wood was normally used as a fuel in lime kilns.
    After 1800, however, anthracite coal was used to a greater extent for lime-burning. The canals and tram-roads brought the coal and limestone of the Llandebie and Gwendraeth areas into the ports. An interesting survival of this practice was the export of Llandebie lime to South Africa via Llanelly for the purpose of sugar refining at the close of the 19th century. Generally speaking, however, although new pits were opened in the anthracite coalfield during the first part of the 19th century, the industry exhibited no great expansion, although new avenues of utilisation were found.
    Kymer's colliery has already been noted, and between 1824 and 1830 collieries were in operation at ;
    · Floy Farm owned by Captain Scott, at Tynywern and Tynywaun, Ponthenry, the latter owned by J Arthur;
    · at Old Pentremawr, Pontyberem, owned by Elkington;
    · at Old Cae-Pont-bren, Pontyates, owned by Herbert Lloyd;
    · and at Cross Hands, under the ownership of Colonel Wray and Norton.
    · Messrs Christopher and Jones opened the following pits at Gorslas; Gilfach pit, Millers pit, George pit, Pwllylledrim pit. These collieries were described as ' prosperous little concerns' and the output was about 100 tons a day. The coal from Cross Hands and Gorslas was conveyed to the Llanelly 'docks' by means of Raby's tram road (the Carmarthenshire 'railway'). Raby was also the first iron master to venture the use of anthracite coal for smelting, although his efforts met with limited success.
    Between 1800 and 1850 the coal was mainly used for malting, hop-drying, and lime-burning. Small quantities were exported, especially after 1841, when the railway was opened from Llanelly to the Amman Valley. The development of the coalfield after 1865 is closely related to extension in the demand for this type of coal by foreign countries. In 1868 France imported 14,369 tons and Italy 558 tons; by 1921 these figures were 848,297 tons and 238,474 tons respectively. In addition, the number of foreign customers had risen from two to seventeen in the same period.
    By the middle of the 19th century technical inventions enabled deep mining to be carried on at a time when foreign demand increased. This demand in its turn depended on other inventions, such as the anthracite burning stove of the Baltic lands about 1880, as well as on large scale advertising organised by Frederick Cleeves, 'the father of the anthracite industry', who introduced the coal to the continental consumers. Between 1887 and 1902 the output of Welsh anthracite increased by 287% and 50% of this was absorbed by the export trade.
    The most important buyers of anthracite are France, Italy, Germany, the Low Countries, Norway and Sweden, the USA, the Argentine, and the little island of Guernsey, which imports 200,000 tons for its hot-houses alone.
    A mild winter on the continent may cause a fall in the imports, as very much less would be needed for central heating purposes. Again, good harvests in Europe affect the return cargoes of ships taking coal to Canada, USA, and South America from South Wales ports. An important feature of the anthracite export trade between 1913 and 1930 was the tremendous growth in the Canadian trade. In 1913, 48,000 tons were exported to Canada; in 1930, 975,000 tons. Ice on the St Lawrence river retards the anthracite export trade during the winter months. The excellence of its quality --- the best in the world according to a well known authority --- and the enormous reserves --- over 6,000 million tons in 1904 according to the Lord Merthyr report --- all help to enhance the export trade.
    Before 1800 the leading port in South Wales for the export of anthracite was Milford. Afterwards with the development of communications facilities around Llanelly, this port supplanted Milford. After 1880, with the greater development of the coalfield and the opening up of foreign markets, Swansea took the place of Llanelly as the great exporter of anthracite coal.
    The results of this foreign demand emphasised the need for the proper and efficient preparation of the coal for the market. The entrepreneur himself was obviously too busily occupied with the opening of new works, so that the marketing problem was taken over by a selling agent, whose contribution to the South Wales anthracite coal trade has been very great. In America, anthracite was graded into commercial types in order to meet different users. Similarly Welsh anthracite was graded and crushed into different types by special crushing, screening, and washing plants, and this, of course, involved the use and investment of more capital in the industry. The old and shallow workings of the early period were in the main closed down. New collieries were opened, tapping deep seams; better machinery was introduced, and electricity was used. The individual owner or entrepreneur gave way to the company who, with more capital and energy, opened better-equipped collieries. This created a great demand for labour, which up to 1900 was only moderate, because of the time that elapsed before the new mines could develop fully. After this, progress was rapid.
    The following figures bring out very clearly the development of the industry between 1890 and 1930, obscuring, of course, the troubled conditions from 1914 to 1918;
    Year Total Output, Tons
    · 1890 1,221,000
    · 1900 2,204,000
    · 1910 4,032,000
    · 1920 4,231,951
    · 1930 5,568,238
    Depending as it was on its foreign customers, the anthracite coal industry suffered a great shock during the war period through the dislocation of the market. Up until 1917 the industry was badly hit, but from 1917 to the end of government control in March, 1921, it greatly retrieved its position. What the government actually did during this period was mainly to stimulate the home demand for anthracite. Its use was extended mainly by the use of anthracite stoves and central heating appliances. In 1917, 2,123,000 tons were consumed, and in 1920, 2,604,000 tons. After 1921 the anthracite industry continued to expand, and in 1923 4,873,000 tons were produced --- the highest figure in its history until 1930.
    The development of large-scale organisations in the anthracite industries did not reveal itself until the early decades of the 20th century. In 1903, an attempt was made to establish a combination in the anthracite coal district, but this was wrecked by the difficulty of valuation. In 1905, the idea of an anthracite coal trust was revived. During these two years, a period of depression in the industry accentuated the materialisation of the idea. Certain firms were invited to form the proposed amalgamation, but the prices they demanded for their properties were prohibitive. Once again, valuation shattered the project. In 1911, amalgamation was again discussed, but it did not advance beyond that stage until the post-war period.
    Then, in 1923, came the formation of the Amalgamated Anthracite Collieries, Ltd. On its formation it acquired the whole of the issued capital of the Cleeves Western Valley Anthracite Collieries, Ltd, which owned four collieries in the anthracite area and held practically the entire share capital of the Gelliceidrim Collieries, Ltd; also the share capital of the Gurnos Anthracite Collieries, and the Cawdor and Cwmgors collieries were acquired. Its capital at the time of its formation amounted to £2,500,000. In the same year (although the prospectus was not issued until June, 1924), the United Anthracite Collieries, Ltd, was formed. The United Anthracite Collieries, Ltd acquired and developed the Great Mountain Anthracite Collieries (including the business of Waddell & Sons, London and Llanelly), the Ammanford Anthracite Collieries, the Pontyberem Anthracite Collieries, and the New Dynant Anthracite Collieries. The Amalgamated Anthracite Collieries, Ltd had an output capacity of about 750,000 tons, and the United Anthracite Collieries Ltd, approximately 600,000 tons.
    On the other hand, the highly organised protective machinery of the miner is the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. This is composed of some score of constituent trade unions, some of which, such as the South Wales Miners' Federation, had originally a federal structure. The anthracite area of Carmarthenshire and west Glamorgan is known technically as Area No 1. Anthracite wage conditions are determined by the South Wales Conciliation Board.
    [Men of Steel]
    .........................................

    The Bankruptcy Act, 1869.
    In the County Court of Gloucestershire, holden at Gloucester, transferred from the County Court of Monmouthshire,
    bolden at Newport

    A MEETING of the Creditors of. Richard Thomas, residing at Lydbrook, in the township of West Dean, in the county of Gloucester, and carrying on business as Richard Thomas and Co, at Lydbrook aforesaid, and at Lydney, in the said county, as an Iron and Tin Plate Manufacturer, and at Lydbrook and West Dean aforesaid, as a Colliery Proprietor, and heretofore carrying on business at East Dean, in the said county, as a Colliery Proprietor (under a copartnership since dissolved), under the style of tbe Wye Colliery Company, whose affairs were, by special resolution passed by bie creditors on the 19th day of March, 1883, resolved to be liquidated by 'arrangement, will be held at the Bell Hotel, Gloucester, on the 16th day of April, 1883, at half-past two o'clock in the afternoon, for the purpose of considering the propriety of sanctioning the acceptance by the Trustee of a composition offered by or on behalf of the eaid Richard Thomas of 2s. in the pound on the debts of the creditors of the said Richard Thomas, or the assent by the Trustee to a scheme of settlement of the affairs of the said Richard Thomas, and for the granting of the discharge of the said Richard Thomas in the matter of the said special resolution.?Dated this 4th day of April, 1883.
    W. H. FORESTER, Trustee.
    1 2 3 4 5 6
  • Change Date: 2 Dec 2013 at 00:00:00



    Father: Richard Thomas b: 25 Dec 1814 in Bridgwater, Somerset, England
    Mother: Maria Green b: 13 Feb 1813 in Shefford, Bedfordshire, England

    Marriage 1 Ann Loveluck b: 6 Feb 1837 in Hafod Talog, Margam, Morgannwg, Cymru
    • Married: 18 Feb 1859 in St. Marys Church, Caerdydd, Morgannwg, Cymru
    • Note:
      Groom's Forenames:Richard Groom's Surname:Thomas Groom's Age:22 Marriage Year:1859 Marriage Month:Feb Marriage Day:18 Event Type:Marriage Page:217 Place / Parish:Cardiff, St Mary County:Glamorganshire Bride's Forenames:Anne Bride's surname:Lovelock Bride's Age:22 Groom's Father's Forenames:Richard Groom's Father's Surname:Thomas Bride's Father's Forenames:John Bride's Father's Surname:Lovelock
      Record source:Glamorgan marriages transcripts
      Data provider:Welsh Archive Services / Gwasanaethau Archifau Cymru
    Children
    1. Has Children Richard Beaumont-Thomas of Alvington Court b: 25 May 1860 in Oxford, England
    2. Has No Children William George Thomas b: 27 Jan 1862 in St. Nicholas, Morgannwg, Cymru
    3. Has No Children Samual Treherne Thomas b: 30 Oct 1863 in Alvas, St George's, Morgannwg, Cymru
    4. Has Children Francis Treherne-Thomas b: 17 Aug 1865 in Castell Nedd, Morgannwg, Cymru
    5. Has Children Harold Massey-Thomas of Moor Hall b: 2 Jan 1867 in Llangyfelach, Morgannwg, Cymru
    6. Has No Children Alfred Ivor Thomas b: 15 Dec 1869 in Ty Ynis, Clydach, Morgannwg, Cymru
    7. Has Children Hubert Spence-Thomas of Cae Pwcella b: 18 Apr 1871 in Herne Villa, Walford, Herefordshire, England
    8. Has Children Wyndham Partridge Thomas of Caxton House b: 29 Mar 1873 in Beech Grove House, Ruardean, Gloucestershire, England
    9. Has No Children Annie Lillian Thomas b: 17 Nov 1874 in Beech Grove House, Ruardean, Gloucestershire, England
    10. Has No Children Fanny Maude Thomas b: 10 Mar 1876 in Lydbrook, Gloucestershire, England
    11. Has No Children Sidney Loveluck Thomas b: 31 Dec 1877 in Lydbrook, Gloucestershire, England
    12. Has Children Elizabeth Mabel Thomas b: 25 Apr 1879 in Lydbrook, Gloucestershire, England
    13. Has No Children Stanley Rendall Thomas b: 16 Feb 1881 in Lydbrook, Gloucestershire

    Sources:
    1. Title: College of Arms
      Author: Arthur William Steuart Cochrane
      Publication: Extracted from a lineage document submitted by Patrick Spence-Thomas
      Text: SIR ARTHUR WILLIAM STEUART COCHRANE, K.C.V.O.
      Rouge Croix, pat. 3 October, salary from 8 January 1904.
      Chester, pat. 25 October, salary from 29 September 1915.
      Norroy, pat. 9 October, salary from 5 October 1926.
      Clarenceux, pat. 26 July 1928, salary from 12 September 1927.
      B. 27 April 1872, s. of Rev. David Crawford Cochrane, Master of Etwall Hospital, Derbyshire; a wine-merchant in early life and for a time Secretary to Scott-Gatty, Garter; Rouge Croix 1904; at his death 11 January 1954, had been a member of the College for nearly fifty years; adviser on heraldry to the Admiralty Committee on Ships' Badges 1936; M.V.O. 191 1 ; C.V.O. 193 1 ; K.C.V.O. 1937.
      Had a keen wit and a flair for producing happy and origiiial designs for arms and badges ; also known as writer of short stories.
      {Who's Who; The Times, 16 October 1926, 13 and 15 January 1954; etc.)
      Anns: Per pale or & gules, 2 crosses trefly dimidiated & issuing from the dexter & sinister flanks counterchanged. Crest: A horse passant argent with a gold crown about its neck. Motto: virtute et labore. (Designed by Cochrane and granted 25 November 1925.)
    2. Title: Turner-Thomas Genealogy
      Author: Arthur Edwyn Turner-Thomas
      Publication: Turner-Thomas Genealogy.ged
    3. Title: Brewis document
      Author: Pearl Brewis
      Publication: Extracted from lineage document produced by Pearl brewis, daughter of Lionel Beaumont-Thomas
    4. Title: Men of Steel, The History of Richard Thomas and his Family
      Author: David Wainwright
      Publication: Quiller Press, 1986
    5. Title: Will of Richard Thomas
      Author: Richard Thomas
      Publication: Probate granted in the District Probate Registry, Bristol, 28 December 1916.
    6. Title: Business, banking, and politics: the case of British Steel, 1918-1939
      Author: Steven Tolliday
      Publication: Harvard University Press, 1987

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