GENUKI Home page

Wales Wales (NLW Journals) Contents Contents

 

THE INDUSTRIALIZATION OF A GLAMORGAN PARISH (Llangiwg)

By Hugh Thomas, National Library of Wales journal Summer, 1976, Vol XIX/3

The complete article has been extracted by Gareth Hicks for Genuki with the permission of the NLW.

This is the second part of a series of three articles.

See also Part I

See also Final Part

Although it is strongly recommended that the whole of this article is read as set out by the author, to assist the reader I have inserted these arbitrary bookmarks (which may be within paragraphs)


II

If it was the construction of the Swansea Valley Canal in 1798 which released the mineral potential of the parish and its neighbourhood, it was the adaptation of the hot blast process to use anthracite in the smelting of iron ore which triggered off the first large scale expansion in the district. This advance was successfully introduced at the Ynysgedwyn ironworks in 1836 largely as a result of the work of David Thomas who since 1820 had been experimenting with some success in the use of anthracite and coke for smelting. It was not, however, until he had inspected at first hand the operation of Nielson's hot blast that he was able to convert the Ynysgedwyn works to this process. In 1838 a furnace was built at Ystalyfera and from this grew the iron and tinplate works which by 1863 was described as 'the largest tinplate manufactory in the world'.   1  A new cold blast process was successfully introduced here and, despite some early crises, the works prospered. By the mid-fifties there were forty furnaces for puddling and balling in operation and sixteen tin mills and houses. The output of iron increased from the 4,893 tons of 1843 to 29,828 tons in 1858. The works continued to grow during the 1860s and reached peak production in 1872 with the sale of 182,000 boxes of tinplate. 2

By this time, however, the years of prosperity were numbered. The seventies witnessed little further addition to the plant of the works. Steel had now come to challenge iron on a larger scale, new methods of production demanded the energy, technical skill and capital which the ageing J. P. Budd at Ystalyfera could not supply. The works continued to operate during the seventies, but with Budd's death in 1880 the end was in sight. By this time the works were incurring heavy losses and late in 1885 the works finally closed. For more than forty years the works had been the colossus of the district and, more than anything else, had been responsible for the transformation of the latter's economic basis and social structure. Less significant in their contribution were the two ironworks, at Pontardawe and Brynaman, though both became substantial producers of tinplate from the 1860s.

The expansion in iron production inevitably created a heavy demand for local coal. The middle decades of the century saw the expansion of existing mines and the sinking of new ones in the parish and the neighbouring districts. The hamlets most affected by coalmining were Caegurwen --- at Cwmtwrch, Cwmllynfell, Brynaman and Gwaun-cae-gurwen --- and Alltygrug --- at Ystalyfera and in Godre'rgraig and Ynysmeudwy. The Parish Rate Book for 1854 gives some indication of the scale of operations at this time. It records that together the coal­mines of the parish contributed a total of some £1,435 to the parish rate, varying from the Cwmllynfell Collieries' contribution of £380 to the Brynmorgan Colliery which was rated at £48, while the gross estimated rental of the Cyfyng Colliery at Ystalyfera was £260.   3  Two more coalmines were opened in the early 1870s but it was not until the last decade of the century that further expansion took place on a significant scale. Although it was in the mining of coal that the parish took its first steps towards industrialization and despite the importance of its contribution to this process, coal nevertheless fulfilled a role which was secondary to iron and tinplate manufacture in the transformation of the economy of the parish.

Though the heavy basic industries were far and away the most important elements in the industrial development of the parish, they attracted a few other enterprises. In 1844 the Ynysmeudwy Brick Works was established by Ebenezer Edwards which brought into the parish a number of potters and clay workers from Staffordshire and Cornwall. In 1865 a small foundry was opened at Pontardawe to manufacture iron rollers, bearings and partings which were used in collieries. Finally, there were small undertakings which supplied the local wholesale market --- a cloth factory at Pontardawe and breweries at Pontardawe and Cwmgors.

This industrial expansion was, of course, accompanied by a substantial growth in the population. It is interesting to note in this context the differing growth patterns in Llangiwg and its neighbouring parishes during the nineteenth century for they reflect very clearly those factors which determine the correlation between industrialization and population growth. An examination of the following table illustrates the operation of five of these factors:

Population changes in three Swansea Valley parishes, 1801 - 1901

 

Llangiwg

Ystradgynlais

Rhyn-dwy-Clydach

1801

   829 

   993

   722

1811

1,060

1,181

   884

1821

1,428

1,482

   948

1831

1,847

2,078

1,137

1841

2,813

2,335

1,438

1851

4,229

3,758

1,578

1861

7,983

4,345

1,720

1871

8,312

4,121

2,208

1881

9,110

4,114

3,529

1891

9,707

4,326

4,018

1901

12,376

5,785

4,462

Peak periods of population growth corresponded to expansion in local iron manufacture and the accompanying heavy demand for local coal. The most significant growth decade before the 1890s in the parish of Ystradgynlais was the period 1841-1851 when the already well-established Ynysgedwyn ironworks was expanding rapidly; the corresponding period in Llangiwg was the following decade when the Ystalyfera ironworks, established in 1838, was really getting into its stride; it was during the years 1871-1881 that the population of Rhyn-dwy­Clydach recorded its first large scale increase as a result of the developments in tinplate manufacture there. Then, the actual size of the industrial unit exercised a determining influence. Growth in Llangiwg during the 1850s was significantly larger than in Ystradgynlais during the 1840s and in Rhyn-dwy-Clydach during the 1870s and this reflects the fact that the iron and tinplate works at Ystalyfera dwarfed all other industrial undertakings in the three parishes. Thirdly, there was the rate of industrial expansion. The Ynysgedwyn ironworks was long established and had been in a reasonably flourishing condition certainly since 1820; the Ystalyfera ironworks did not get under way until 1838 and was, by the middle years of the century, very much the bigger concern. This is reflected in the significant difference in the growth rate of the two parishes concerned between 1841 and 1861. Moreover, a drop in growth rate or an actual contraction in the population corresponds with periods when the local ironworks were either not expanding or were in decline. The death of George Crane in 1846 was followed by a decline in the fortunes of the Ynysgedwyn ironworks and this coincided with a marked decline in population growth during the 1850s and an actual contraction during the 1860s in the parish of Ystradgynlais. Finally, there was the scale of the industrial undertakings relative to the districts directly involved. Thus, the more sustained growth in Llangiwg during the nineteenth century is in part explained by the fact that industrial development occurred in a relatively larger area of the parish than was the case in either Ystradgynlais or Rhyn-dwy-Clydach.

A closer examination of the changes which occurred within the parish of Llangiwg illustrates very clearly the nature of the impact of industrial growth upon population change. Of the four hamlets of the parish, Blaenegel was only marginally affected by industrial development, Parcel Mawr was subjected to the industrial undertakings of William Parsons and then William Gilbertson, in Caegurwen there was considerable expansion in coalmining and less substantial development in ironworking; but far and away the most conspicuous industrial growth was that associated with the Ystalyfera ironworks in the hamlet of Alltygrug. These variations are clearly reflected in the population changes which occurred within the parish during the first seventy years of the nineteenth century. During this period the population of Blaenegel did not quite double itself, that of Parcel Mawr increased almost six-fold; in Caegurwen the number of inhabitants increased by seven times; in Alltygrug, however, the increase was far greater for its population grew over twenty-fold. The following table shows the differences in growth rates within the parish

Population of the parish of Llangiwg, by hamlets

 

Blaenegel

Parcel Mawr  

Caegurwen

Alltygrug

Llangiwg

1801

111

   297

   224

   197

    829

1841

182

   710

   843

1,078

2,813

1851

200

   897

1,316

1,816

4,229

1861

204

1,339

1,461

4,919

7,983

1871

202

1,706

1,586

4,818

8,312

The increase which occurred in the population of the parish during the early decades of the century was in large measure the result of the arrival of those attracted by employment in the coalmines of the district. This inflow of new inhabitants continued steadily and by 1841 those born outside the county of Glamorgan had risen to 946, very nearly one-third of the population of the parish. By this year another factor was at work, the attraction exerted by iron manufacture, and during the 1840s and 1850s the volume of immigrants reached a peak. By 1851 almost half the inhabitants of the parish had been born outside its boundaries --- 2,167 parish-born inhabitants as compared with 2,062 immigrants. During the decade which followed the immigrants outstripped the parish-born inhabitants and by 1861 outnumbered than by 5:3 --- 4,984 immigrants as compared with 3,001 parish-born. Striking as these figures are, they do not reflect the full impact of immigration into the parish. By far the largest single section of the inhabitants recorded in the census of 1861 was that composed of the sons and daughters still living with their parents. The majority of these were children, although a not inconsiderable minority were adults. Very nearly 70% of this section were born inside the parish (1,475 out of a total of 2,143), but well over a third of them (511) were the children of parents both of whom had been born outside the parish, and another third (479) had one non-parish-born parent.

The balance as between immigrant and parish-born inhabitants in 1861 may be seen in the following table:

Immigrant --- Parish-born Inhabitants by hamlets, 1861

          Hamlet 

Heads

Wives

Children

Relatives

Lodgers

Servants

P. Mawr:        Total

275

217

689

73

57

108

        Immigrant

182

126

175

25

44

68

Blaenegel:      Total

  36

  31

108

  4

7

18

        Immigrant

  21

  15

  25

  2

6

9

Caegurwen:    Total

288

245

791

38

42

52

        Immigrant

203

177

225

17

25

39

Alltygrug:      Total

949

797

2,435

113

522

92

        Immigrant 

838

711

1,413

 69

488

69

There were some sixteen people who did not fit into the categories recorded in the table, but this in no way invalidates the general conclusions which can be drawn from it. There is, first, confirmation of the industrial supremacy of Alltygrug within the parish in that it has absorbed 3,088 of the parish's 5,406 immigrants. A comparison with the 1851 figures shows that this was achieved in very large measure during the 1850s for in that year the Alltygrug immigrants numbered 943. During the same period the number of immigrants in the hamlet of Caegurwen, whose industrial progress was based almost entirely on coal at this time, increased by one, from 685 to 686. Immigration into this latter hamlet had dropped significantly during the 1840s as is shown by the overall population figures and by the comparatively small number of immigrant children recorded in 1861.

Migration into the parish was, then, one of the major factors to determine the nature of the communities which emerged during the process of industrialization and its particular features go far to explain the differences which became discernible between the communities. The first of these features is that the majority of the immigrants were drawn from the neighbouring districts, lying within an arc of some twenty miles from the centre of the parish. This arc extends from Porthcawl via Bridgend to Merthyr Tudful, from there to a point slightly to the north of Llandovery and including Sennybridge; it passes a few miles to the cast of Carmarthen, almost to the borders of Kidwelly and includes the greater part of Gower. Immigration was heaviest from the neighbouring parishes and tended, as a general rule, to diminish as one approached the circumference of the arc. In the case of Carmarthenshire, for instance, which constitutes by far the greater portion of the western portion of the arc, heaviest immigration came from the parishes of Llangadog, Llandeilo, Llandybie and Bettws. These had by 1861 contributed 221, 278, 200 and 141 inhabitants respectively. The other Carmarthenshire parishes which are included either wholly or in part within the arc were responsible for another 675 immigrants. Unfortunately, in the case of 486 Llangiwg inhabitants of 1861 who were recorded as being Carmarthenshire born no parish of origin was designated. This means that of the 1,582 Carmarthenshire born immigrants whose parish of origin is known 1,515 were born within the twenty mile arc.

The eastern portion of the arc covers the south-western corner of Breconshire and that part of Glamorgan west of a line drawn from Merthyr Tudful to Bridgend. Here, though the general pattern is very similar, there are certain obvious differences. Thus, of the 1,656 recorded as being natives of Glamorgan no parish of origin is given for 481, but 911 of the remaining 1,175 were born within the area covered by the twenty mile arc. Again, 261 of the 386 Breconshire immigrants were born within the twenty mile limit. But there is not the same uniformity in these two counties as occurred in the case of Carmarthenshire, for there were districts on the fringe of the arc which contributed substantial numbers of immigrants. This was especially the case in areas where there were well established industrial undertakings, like Merthyr Tudful and the Aberdare-Hirwaun district. The general pattern of migration into the parish is illustrated by the following:

Districts of Origin of Parish Immigrants 1851 & 1861

 

1851

1861

Glamorgan and Breconshire

   672

2,135

The counties of Carmarthen, Pembroke & Cardigan ..

1,306

2,380

The remainder of Wales

    11

   131

England, Scotland & Ireland

    71

   311

Proximity and ease of access were obviously very important considerations in determining movement into the parish. Thus, Caegurwen attracted heavy immigration from the eastern parts of Carmarthenshire, far more so than was the case in Parcel Mawr. Conversely, Parcel Mawr attracted many more people from the neighbouring Glamorgan parishes than did Caegurwen. Alltygrug, because of its position and the scale of expansion which took place there, did not present so clear a picture in respect of its immigrants, drawing people from east and west.

The major attraction was the job opportunities created by the expanding industries. This attraction operated within a relatively confined area for the most part, but this general rule has to be modified to take into account the expertise, experience and capital required in the parish at the time. The demand for men skilled in iron working is reflected in the substantial increase in the volume of immigrants from Glamorgan and Breconshire during the 1850s. Craftsmen tended to be drawn from a wider area than were unskilled workmen, while specialist trades were recruited from areas with long associations with these trades. Many pottery workers came from Cornwall and Devon to work at the Ynysmeudwy works, many railway workmen came from Ireland and England and one nailcutter came from Birmingham. The following table attempts to correlate occupations with places of origin:

Places of Origin by Occupations, Llangiwg, 1861

   Occupation 

Llangwig

Glam.

Carms.

Brecs.

  Pembs.

 Cards.

  Mon.

 Wales

  England

  Scotland

 Ireland

Farmers                 62          16          15          8           1            0           1            0             0                2            0

Fm. Workers         31          17          64          8           5            3            0           2             1                1            0

Miners                 246         55        246        31          22          12           2            2             5                0           2

Iron / Tin             168       337         367        50          57          22         31          10          34                8          11

Craftsmen              65         79         190        22          23          12           4            6          23                2           5

Labourers              16         10           22          3            6            1           1            2          13                0           2

House servants      62         55           67        16            9            7           0            0          10                2           0

Professions             4           9             8          8             3            2           2            3            7                1           0

Business                 28         23           41        11            8            1           1            3            7                0            0

Transport               34          14           12         3             5            1           1            1          16                0          31

Bricks, etc.              9          13             5         0             1            2           0            0            4                0            0

Misc.                     11           8            14         2             4            0           0            0            6                0            1

(There were six inhabitants whose places of birth were not known or who were born outside the United Kingdom.)

It is possible to infer the working of personal contacts in a number of cases. It would appear that an immigrant employer brought with him a nucleus of workmen from his home district, while an immigrant occupying a professional or managerial position was in a number of cases accompanied by house servants or companions for members of his family from the district which he had left. One also comes across concentrations within particular neighbourhoods of men and women from the same parish. This occurred more especially among those employed in the basic industries who were drawn from within the twenty mile arc. These frequently maintained contacts with their home districts, which were after all within walking distance, and they were, no doubt, consciously or otherwise, a means of attracting others from these districts to the parish of Llangiwg. The following table attempts to show where in the parish immigrants from different parts of the country settled:

         Distribution of Immigrants within the parish of Llangiwg , 1861

Hamlet:

Glam.

Carms.

Brecs.

Pembs.

Cards.

Wales.

England

Scot.

Ireland

Parcel Mawr:

316

154

35

35

12

14

50

6

0

Blenegel:

14

38 

5  

12

0

0

3

0

Caegurwen:

96

499

54

17

5

5

7

9

0

Alltygrug:

1,230

1,377

292

188

126

114

71

11

59

The places of birth of individual members of families reveal two quite significant factors. There were many cases of married couples where the husband was an immigrant and the wife parish-born. This was the result of the migration into the parish of a relatively large number of unmarried young men, and accounts for the large lodger element in the population. If we exclude children living with parents - some of whom, it must be admitted, were adults - the immigrant population of Llangiwg in 1861 was 2,175 of whom the lodgers numbered 488. An examination of the birthplaces of the children reveals the mobility of many families within a restricted area. Many a rural-born Carmarthenshire couple had tried their fortunes at Llanelli and Swansea, or Merthyr Tudful and Cwmafan before finally settling in Llangiwg. Some had wandered further while others had tried more than two industrial centres. This supports the view that the chronology of localised industrial developments within a particular region is an important factor in explaining the pattern of migration.

Certain features of the migration into Llangiwg during the middle decades of the nineteenth century go far to explain the nature of the communities which emerged in the parish. First, the overwhelming majority of the immigrants came from within a twenty mile arc of the parish and from rural areas. This meant that in very many cases contacts with their places of birth were not lost when they settled in Llangiwg. They visited their homes fairly frequently and, at times, remained there for a few days, especially at harvest time. This would be more particularly true of the first generation immigrants. The consequence of this was a longer, and therefore less violent, period of transition from life in a rural to life in an industrial community. They were also able to 'import' more of their rural way of life into their new environment than was the case in attracting areas which were further removed from the supplying districts. This particular feature was reinforced by the fact that industrialization, and therefore settlement, took place for the most part on the outer rim of the parish and within an area which was relatively small. The hinterland of the parish remained rural, as did most of the adjacent portions of the neighbouring parishes. This meant that access to the countryside was relatively easy for the inhabitants of the parish's industrial zone.

Again, the majority of the immigrants came from an area which was, in terms of language and culture, fairly homogeneous. Certainly there were differences between immigrants from various parts of the area, but the vast majority were Welsh speaking and possessed a cultural background which was generally similar. There were minor differences in the inflections of their spoken Welsh and variations in their customs and habits, but so many of them were products of a Welsh rural culture that there was little that was fundamentally different between the vast majority of the immigrants. The result was the continuation within the new communities of much that had been characteristic of the cultural life of the Welsh countryside and this made much less difficult the task of shaping those bonds which went into the making of the new communities of the parish.

Thirdly, immigration occurred on a scale which, with the possible exception of the district near the Ystalyfera ironworks, was not so overwhelmingly large as to cause to the same degree the dislocation which characterised certain other areas undergoing industrialization. There were, for instance, in the early stages of growth few tenement dwellings, while house building was able to keep pace reasonably well with the increase in the population. In 1861 the average number of occupants per house was only fractionally higher than it had been in 1801 ---  and this after a decade during which the population had practically doubled, while by 1871 the average mumber of occupants per house had dropped below the 1801  average. True, living conditions in other respects were not so satisfactory, but there was not the overcrowding which was so prominent a feature of certain other areas which were being subjected to similar changes.

Finally, the greater part of the immigration occurred at a time when certain important features of community life, some of than peculiarly Welsh, had established themselves. Nonconformity had been firmly rooted in Wales by the middle decades of the nineteenth century and the immigrants were, for the most part, Nonconformists. Not only was this a powerful integrative force within the communities of the parish;  it also firmly established the pattern of their religious life in the decades which followed and also contributed substantially to the evolution of those conventions by which the communities ordered their lives. The peculiarly Welsh cultural activities associated with the eisteddfod had, especially since 1819, become increasingly popular and these introduced into the young communities of the parish new literary influences which were to have a substantial impact upon its cultural life. Moreover, heavy immigration occurred at a time when public concern at various aspects of the quality of life in industrial communities was translating itself into administrative action. Some of the evils which accompanied industrialization were present, but they were not to be found on the same scale nor did they persist so long as was the case in areas where industrialization had occurred earlier.

The occupations of the inhabitants inevitably reflected the course of industrial development in the parish during the middle decades of the century. By 1841, when the Ystalyfera ironworks was in its infancy, the colliers had established themselves as the largest single occupational group in the parish. Coal and iron miners also headed the list in 1851 --- it is difficult to apportion them to one or the other mineral because a number were recorded as fulfilling the dual role. The great majority of the miners were concentrated in the hamlets of Alltygrug and Caegurwen and, while many were employed in the mines owned by the local ironworks, a substantial number worked in small independent coalmining concerns. Very much smaller at this time was the number of those employed in the iron and tin works of the parish, although many recorded as craftsmen and labourers, in Alltygrug especially, in all probability belonged to this group. Closely involved with these were the men and the occasional women who were employed by the canal company to operate the barges whose cargoes were, for the most part, coal and iron.

The number of farmers and farm workers had dropped substantially since the 1830s, not surprisingly since the working of coal and iron and the building of the ironworks had reduced the acreages of some farms and had caused others to disappear altogether. Among the tradesmen the largest single group was composed of those involved in the sale of intoxicants, as brewers, innkeepers, victuallers, public-house or beer-house keepers. Much smaller were the numbers of the grocers, butchers, general provision merchants and drapers. The majority of the craftsmen fell into one of three groups --- those engaged in the building trade, stonemasons, plasterers, carpenters and joiners; those employed in the making of furniture and of clothes, and, finally, there were the blacksmiths, coopers and furriers, many of whom were involved in the servicing industries. They operated for the most part as small independent businesses, though in the case of some, blacksmiths, stonemasons and joiners especially, a number were employed by the ironworks and coalmines, while some of the coopers were in the employ of local brewers. Finally, the number of those in what might be termed professional employment was very small, even when this term is generously interpreted. For the most, they were Anglican clergymen, Nonconformist ministers, general practicioners and school-teachers, though a very small number of technologists were making their appearance. These last, mineral agents, managers and top executives in the ironworks and its subsidiary concerns, possessed the technical qualifications, enjoyed the social status and exercised the economic influence which reflected the changes taking place, but they were as yet very few. The following table is a breakdown of the occnpations in the parish in 1851:

Occupations in the parish of Llangiwg, 1851

Occupations

P. Mawr

Alltygrug

BlaenegeI

Caegurwen

Total

Coal & Iron miners

33

270

12

230

543

Craftsmen

58

64

7

53

192

Iron & Tine workers 

61

95

3

0

159

House servants

51

48

10

33

142

Labourers

12

77

3

31

123

Farmers

31

20

14

28

93

Farm workers, etc.

29

14

14

30

 87

Tradesmen 

18

21

0

15

54

Transport

28

6

1

10

45

Professional

7

11

0

12

30

Miscellaneous  

18

5

0

0

23

Annuitants / Paupers 

18

2

0

30

50

The general trends already apparent before 1851  approached maturity during the following decade. The progress made by the Ystalyfera ironworks during the 1850s is reflected in the fact that in 1861 far and away the most important occupational group was that of the iron and tin workers. To appreciate the significance of the ironworks as employers of labour it must be remembered that to the 1,095 recorded as workers in the iron and tin works should be added a substantial number of the stonemasons, blacksmiths and carpenters among the craftsmen, the iron miners, those coalminers employed in mines owned by the ironworks as well as in mines whose major customer was the ironworks, and a number of those professional men who occupied managerial and executive positions in the ironworks.

Very apparent also was the marked increase in the industrial labour force of the parish. The total of those recorded as iron and tin workers, coal and iron miners, labourers, brick and pottery workers and those employed in transport and communication was 1,946. To this must also be added those craftsmen who were employed in the various industrial concerns of the parish. The number of those engaged in industry had very nearly doubled during the 1850s, the occupational pattern of the parish had changed beyond all recognition since 1801 and the first major stage of occupational change had been completed by 1861.

Significant also was the fact that those engaged in industry were, for the greater part, concentrated in the hamlet of Alltygrug. Of the 1,946 recorded earlier a industrial workers 1,379 were inhabitants of this part of the parish. Only the coal miners of Caegurwen among the larger groups can in any way be compared  the numbers living in Alltygrug. If we ignore the craftsmen, whose number would certainly not reduce the imbalance in the distribution, the relative numbers of industrial workers for the different parts of the parish in 1861 were:

Parcel Mawr            Alltygrug            Blaenegel            Caegurwen

    234                        1379                    12                           334

Another feature of an early phase in the industrial development of a district emerges very clearly in the 1861 census: the fact that the overwhelming majority of the inhabitants belonged to what might be termed the working class. If we again ignore the craftsmen, some of whom could have claimed a place among the tradesmen, those engaged as farmers, traders and in professional occupations totalled a mere 274 whereas the wage earners altogether numbered all impressive 2,349. This particular feature is well illustrated in the following table:

      Percentage distribution of Occupations, 1861

Occupations

P. Mawr

Alltygrug

Blaenegel

Caegurwen

Total

Farmers

6.80

1.12

19.35

6.15

3.42  

Farm workers

6.40

1.83

25.81

8.60

4.21

House Servants

13.20

6.01

12.90

6.71

7.46

Miners 

10.20

12.72

16.15

58.77

20.36

Iron Tin workers

17.60

50.65

3.22

2.61

35.91

Craftsmen

17.00

14.25

19.34

10.08

14.09

Professions

2.40

1.47

0

0.93

1.55

Tradespeople

6.00

3.66

0

3.12

4.02

Transport 

10.00

3.46

0

0

2.45

Labourers 

3.20

3.05

0

0

3.85

Brick / Pottery

5.80

0.31

0

0

1.14

Miscellaneous

1.40

1.47

3.23

2.23

1.54

In terms of places of origin the work force reflects the general pattern of the inhabitants of the parish. Natives of the parish accounted for less than a quarter of those engaged in one occupation or another. Of the remainder immigrants from Glamorgan and Carmarthenshire accounted for the large majority --- a total of 72.6%, 27.4% and 45.2% respectively. Neighbouring Breconshire and the south­western counties of Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire contributed most of the remainder, while the rest of Wales, with the exception of Monmouthshire, provided very few indeed. The increase in the number of immigrants from England and Ireland during the 1850s is accounted for by the expansion of the ironworks at Ystalyfera and the construction of the Swansea Vale Railway.

It is interesting in this context to note the differences in the employment of the immigrant inhabitants. Carmarthenshire immigrants were very prominent among the coalminers, the ironworkers, the craftsmen and the tradesmen. Glamorgan, the other major supplying county, was very well represented among the iron­workers but compared unfavourably with Carmarthenshire in other respects. A number of factors account for this. There was the location of industrial growth within the parish --- the main coalmining centres were easily accessible to immigrants from Carmarthenshire. Again, migration from other Glamorgan parishes was limited by the much greater opportunity for employment than was the case in Carmarthenshire whose largely agrarian economy was suffering strain as a result of population growth. A number of the Glamorgan immigrants had already acquired skills in the older industrial centres of the eounty which offered them opportunites for advancement in the young ironworks of the parish. At the same time, many rural craftsmen were attracted to an expanding area where there was a substantial demand for their goods or where their crafts would secure for them employment in the growing industries. Immigrants from the other parts of the country were, with two exceptions, fairly evenly divided among the various occupations. The first of these exceptions were the Monmouthshire immigrants who were, for the most part, employed in the ironworks --- not unaturally in view of the earlier development of iron manufacture in that county. The other were the Irish-born immigrants whose numbers were almost totally the result of the building of the Swansea Vale Railway, which by 1861 had reached the parish of Llangiwg.

The other feature of interest in respect of employment relates to women and juveniles. Here the record of the parish seems to have been reasonably good by the standards of the time. No women, for instance, were employed in coalmining, though a small number did work in the iron mining of the district. Iron and tin­plate manufacture also gave employment to a number of women and girls in various capacities --- as greasers, polishers, listers, plate openers, rubbers and picklers. Generally, however, women were employed in less heavy and unpleasant work. There was a substantial number of milliners and dressmakers, of shop keepers and school teachers, while quite a few, widows for the most part, were recorded as washerwomen and laundresses. Easily the largest occupational group among the female inhabitants were the house servants of varying degrees who altogether numbered 228. These accounted for well over half of the women and girls in employment in the parish  1861.

It is not difficult to explain the relatively few women wage-earners in the parish. The nature of much of the work available in its two major industries was not suited to women, while the most rapid expansion took place after the public conscience had been aroused on the issue of the employment of women and legislation had excluded them from some occupations. Economic pressures in the neighbouring agricultural areas guaranteed a sufficiency of male immigrants to satisfy the demand for labour and the relative scarcity of women in the young adult age group made it easy for them to find husbands so that a high proportion of the young women had families to care for. Moreover, many girls were kept at home to assist in the housekeeping for the young, growing families. Finally, there were the social attitudes, dictated in part by the public opinion of the time and in part by the rural upbringing of the majority of the immigrant inhabitants, which determined that some occupations were respectable for women while others were not -- and it was in the latter category that the parish had most to offer.

The record of the parish in respect of the employment of juveniles does not seem to have been as bad as some contemporaries believed. True, one eight year-old and one boy of nine are recorded as being in employment in 1861, but the general rule was that children did not start working at these early years. The indications are that the dividing line between children at work and those who were not varied in the different parts of the parish. In Caegurwen, for instance, which was mainly concerned with coal mining, there seems to have been a natural break between 12 and 13 year olds. In Parcel Mawr, where there was a more varied distribution of occupations, the natural break seemed to occur a year earlier, while in Alltygrug, where the large ironworks offered more opportunities, a section of the jnvenile population started work during the year in which they were ten years of age. The following table shows these natural breaks:

Numbers of Juveniles in employment in Llangiwg, 1861

Ages 

P. Mawr

Alltygrug

Blaenegel

Caegurwen

Total

 12+ 

22

65

0

29

116  

12

17

30

3

 5  

55 

11

5

11

2

2

20

10 

1

12

0

1

14

 9 

0

1

0

0

1

 8 

0

1

0

0

1

While the proportion of juveniles in the relevant age-groups is about the same in the three hamlets undergoing industrialization, there are two considerations which make it difficult to draw positive conclusions. The first of these is the fact that the population of Alltygrug was so much larger than those of Parcel Mawr and Caegurwen. It is also possible that parents might have been more tempted to conceal the truth on this particular issue than on any other.

The returns offer some interesting information also on the age distribution and the balance of the sexes, two features of an expansion period which have attracted the attention of demographers. 1861 marked the end of the first major growth period in the parish. During the 1830s the population of the parish had increased by 52.3%, during the 1840s by 50.4% and during the 1850s by 88.8%. whereas the increase during the 1860s was a mere 4.1%. The result was a heavy imbalance in favour of the younger age-groups by 1861 even though the full impact of the massive growth of the fifties may not have shown itself by that year. The following is the distribution by age of the population of the parish in 1861

Age-group:                 0-10    10-20   20-30  30-40  40-50  50-60  60-70    70+

% of population:        28.9      22.2     18.3     12.3     8.6      5.4       2.7       1.6

One interesting feature is that in the hamlet of Alltygrug, much the more heavily industrialized part of the parish, whereas the under-thirties constituted a marginally larger proportion of the inhabitants than in the parish as a whole, the reverse was the case of the under-twenties. Even more marked was the hamlet's relative position in the case of the under-fives, for its proportion of this age-group was the lowest in the parish.

One explanation for this feature lies in the fact that Alltygrug, the scene of the most significant industrial growth, had attracted during the 1850s especially very many more immigrants than any other part of the parish. Among these were a substantial number of unmarried young male adults who in 1861 were recorded as lodgers or boarders. It is true that there were a few unmarried females among the lodgers and boarders, but the overwhelming majority were male. The parish contained a total of 628 in this category, of whom 522 were residents of Alltygrug. It would appear, therefore, that Alltygrug contained fewer young married couples relative to its adult population than was the case in the other three hamlets.

Relevant, too, was the change which had taken place in the balance of the sexes. The returns show that a heavy surplus of females at the opening of the century had by 1841 been converted into a deficit, and that this deficit became more marked with each succeeding decade to 1861. Whereas in  1801 the female population of the parish outnumbered the males by 91, by 1841 there were 83 more males than females and by 1861 this number had increased to 225. The important factor in this context is that this change in the balance of the sexes was more particularly characteristic of Alltygrug. Among its inhabitants in 1841 the male surplus was 90, seven more than for the parish as a whole and in 1,861 it was 175. These changes were even more marked, both in the case of the parish and of Alltygrug, in the significant 20 - 40 years age-group. The following table illustrates this very clearly:

Distribution of Sexes by Hamlets, 1861

          Hamlet                            Total Inhabitants                                          20 - 40 Age group

                                         Numbers               Percentage                        Numbers              Percentage

                                  Male        Female      Male    Female               Male    Female        Male     Female

Finally, though of marginal significance only, there was the availability of employment for women. This, as we have already seen, could only have delayed marriage in the case of a relatively small number but its impact would have been felt most strongly in that part of the parish which offered most jobs. In Blaenegel, which remained largely rural, and in Caegurwen, whose major occupation was coalmining, there was little opportunity of employment for women. In Parcel Mawr the ironworks and the retail and servicing trades created a demand for female labour. But it was in Alltygrug again that the iron and tinplate works, the servicing trades and the demand for household servants offered job opportunities for women on a scale significantly larger than in the remainder of the parish.

The parish in 1801 provides an interesting case study of the size of families in a district undergoing industrialisation. It had during the preceding decades been subjected to a significant population growth rate and was now entering upon a period of consolidation. There were altogether 1,579 family units of which 1,189 consisted of married couples with children. Very nearly two-thirds of these conventional (i.e two-parent) families contained three or less children, slightly under 30% of them had from four to six children and the remainder had over six. The actual numbers may be recorded as follows:

The heavy bias towards the smaller families at this date can be explained by the very heavy immigration during the preceding ten years, so that many were young families which had not yet reached peak size.

An analysis of the sizes of families among the different occupations reveals a tendency to conform to the general pattern that workers in heavy industries had larger families than did men engaged in other occupations. The larger families occurred among the colliers and miners, the ironworkers and the craftsmen in that order; then followed the businessmen, the labourers and, at the foot of the family­size table, were the agricultural workers. No account has been taken of the professional men and their families because they were so few in number. There are certain issues which tend to complicate any general conclusions to be drawn from the statistics which emerge from the study of this particular problem. There were, for instance, substantially more adult, unmarried sons and daughters living at home with their parents in the case of the farmers, and to a lesser extent among the craftsmen and businessmen, than among the colliers and ironworkers. This tendency towards later marriage among the former occupational groups inflated the numbers in their families at any given time, which could be misleading in an attempt to assess their position relative to those of the colliers and ironworkers. Another issue was that the heads of families among the colliers and miners were generally older than among the ironworkers, reflecting the chronology of the industrial development of the parish. It was during the fifties that the vast majority of the ironworkers had been attracted to the parish. By 1861, therefore, there were among the ironworkers a far larger number of young married couples than among the colliers and miners. It follows that among the former there were relatively more growing families and among the latter relatively more families which had already reached their maximum number. These considerations should be borne in mind in drawing any general conclusions from the following table:

      Occupations             Heads
                                 of Families    
                                              Family Size

                                                                1       2       3       4       5       6      7     8     9     10    11   12    13

These, then, are some of the more significant features which emerge from the censuses of 1841, 1851  and 1861 concerning the inhabitants of the parish during its process of industrialization. An appreciation of them is a necessary preliminary to an understanding of the communities which emerged in the parish during the nineteenth century. 4

HUGH THOMAS

Barry.

Notes;


Return to top

InfoFind help, report problems, or contribute information.

(28 Nov 2002 Gareth Hicks)

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional

Copyright © GENUKI and Contributors 1996 to date
GENUKI is a registered trade mark of the
charitable trust GENUKI

Hosted by Mythic Beasts Ltd