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A History of Carmarthenshire

Lloyd, Sir John E., (Ed.). 2 vols., Cardiff, London Carmarthenshire Society (1935, 1939).

With the kind permission of the publishers sundry snippets from this book have been extracted by Gareth Hicks onto some parish pages, these below are in random order.

Here is a list of the book's contents and contributors.

See the county page for a general introduction to The Early Iron and Coal Industry

The Kidwelly Ironworks

"These seem to have been started towards the end of the 17th century, and were owned by Henry Owen in 1720. Between 1720 and 1748 they were producing bar-iron in small quantities. In 1748, Robert Morgan acquired the forge from Henry Owen, and Morgan was so successful at Kidwelly that he extended his iron interests to Carmarthen. Morgan lived at Kidwelly; after his death in 1777 his three sons, Robert (1738), John (1739-1805), and Charles (1743-87) carried on the business.

The forge is situated on the banks of the Gwendraeth Fach river, about a mile to the north-east of the old borough of Kidwelly. Situated about 100 feet above sea-level, it has an old mill race (one of features of the sites of these early forges) connected to the Gwendraeth river. The area is well supplied with water, as is evidenced by the presence of springs in the region, and this was one of the important factors in the location of the forge. Other factors operating were the presence of local supplies of iron ore at Mynydd y Garreg and the location of the forge at a bridging point of the river.

After Morgan had acquired the old forge from Henry Owen, he at once started to repair the buildings, and also leased a newly erected coal-yard from the mayor and burgesses of the borough. The quantity of iron produced was small; Kidwelly, like the Whitland forge, produced only 100 tons of bar-iron in 1750. There was also a blast furnace at Kidwelly, producing pig-iron, which was converted into bar-iron at the forge. This was the important industry until 1748, when Morgan rebuilt the works which a few years later began to manufacture tinplates. It is not until 1777 that there is a definite reference to a tin-mill, and this occurs in the will of Robert Morgan, dated April 11, 1777.

In 1781, a few years after the death of Morgan, the Kidwelly Corporation leased the tin-mills to L B Gwynn, and twenty years later they were acquired and entirely rebuilt by Messrs Haselwood, Hathaway, and Perkins.

An inventory of stock, dated December 24, 1799, for the four ironworks at Stackpole, Kidwelly, Llandyfan, and Carmarthen, shows the amount of raw material, fuel, timber left over at each forge at the end of the year 1799. It also shows where the fuel came from, and the various tools used in the works. The following articles and appliances are mentioned; three anvils and hammers; charcoal barrows; grindstones; and the 'William' sloop, £195. This sloop was the property of the works, and was engaged in importing the raw material, such as pig-iron and coal, from other parts of South Wales, particularly from Sirhowy (Tredegar, Mon), and Blaenavon (Mon), and Stradey (Llanelly). It is also interesting to note that the coke used was derived from the coal mined at Camrose (Pem) and from the Stradey Estate collieries at Llanelly. "

Gareth Hicks