A History of Camarthenshire


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 Whitland Forge

"The earliest ironworks in the county were those at Whitland Abbey. There are no records available for the production of iron over any considerable period of time; it is possible that this forge produced cannon balls during the Civil War. Cromwell, in one of his letters, wrote as follows;

'For my noble friends the committee of Carmarthen.......9th June, 1648.........I have sent this bearer to you to desire we may have your furtherance and assistance in procuring some necessaries to be cast in the iron-furnaces in your County of Carmarthen, which will the better enable us to reduce the Town and Castle of Pembroke. The principal things are shells for our mortar-piece, some D cannon shot, and some culverin-shot.'

This forge is the most westerly in Carmarthenshire. Two miles to the north of the town of Whitland, two tributary streams of the Taf river unite, the Gronw and Nant Colomendy, before joining the Taf itself at Whitland. The forge is situated in the fork of these tributary streams, at an elevation of about 120 feet. From Llanboidy down to Whitland Abbey, the Gronw river flows between highlands with an average elevation of 500 feet, whilst the Colomendy is a much smaller stream, flowing from its source to the north-west of the forge, at average elevations of 450 feet. The valley slopes of both streams are well wooded with birch, elm, mountain ash, and oak, and in the neighbourhood of the forge are the Clyn, Brynbanc, Penllan, Fiddle, Castle Hill, Coed Ysgubor Fawr, and Forge woods.  To the south of the region there are exposures of limestock rocks. The abbey is situated at the point where there is a ford in the Colomendy stream, and where the main road from the north crosses the Gronw river at Whitland Abbey bridge. Iron-ore was brought to the area from the port of Carmarthen by means of mules, which followed the road to St Clears and thence to Whitland Abbey.

About the middle of the 18th century, Robert Morgan, who owned ironworks at Kidwelly, Carmarthen, Llandyfan, Cwmdwyfran, and at Stackpole (Pembrokeshire), came into possession of the Whitland Abbey forge, including  the           ' woodlands around the works'. After the purchase of the forge by Robert Morgan, it was carried on by his son, the elder John Morgan, who, if we may judge from the evidence supplied by his private letters and from the prosperous appearance of his account books, subsequently became as famous an iron master as his father.

The Whitland forge was not as important as the other ironworks at Carmarthen and Kidwelly, and the smaller ones at Cwmdwyfran and Llandyfan. In 1750, the quantity of bar-iron produced at the Whitland forge was 100 tons. This is the sole record of production at this forge. It was the oldest ironworks in Carmarthenshire, and is not mentioned after 1800, so that it probably ceased operations about that date."