Wales - Genealogy Help Pages - Not everyone knows this .... (14)


Swansea and its hinterland.......2

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According to " The History of Clydach" by Christy Davies, the name Ynyspenllwch means "the island at the head of the lake" (deriving "llwch" from the Irish "lough", rather than the Welsh "llwch", which means dust; there are a number of other place names in the area which show Irish origins from the Dark Ages).

On pages 46 and 47 he says:

"Into this farming community the first plant of power industry was introduced in 1647, a water driven iron foundry at Ynyspenllwch. There was most probably a corn mill already at Ynyspenllwch, for two hundred years earlier, in 1449, John ap Griffith ap Howell had paid the Lord 12d for a weir "in the water of Tawe near Enespenllogh". Before 1753 tinplate was being manufactured here, using the rolling process developed by John Hanbury at Pontypool. Ynyspenllwch was the first tinplate works in the Swansea district, which during the next century became the major tinplate centre in the world. There were several changes at Ynyspenllwch as steam power became available, and tinplate was manufactured here until 1897. An interesting local peculiarity is that even after the works was changed to a Canister Works, it was still known as the Japan works: early tinplate was made into ornamental boxes which were painted to imitate Japanese lacquer, and were known as Japan ware. Today the great works of the International Nickel Company covers the site: the only remnant of the early works is the dried up feeder from "the water of Tawe", which runs alonside the present Recreation Ground."

He also mentions that before 1800 there was another water powered works in Clydach - the forge at Forge Uchaf, which used to send iron bars to Ynyspenllwch for further treatment. He goes on to say that a coal mine was opened at Cnapydicod, opposite the present Roman Catholic church - "Later a shaft was sunk to it at Ynyspenllwch, and the coal used for the works there."

An article in the Winter 1999 newlsetter of the Clydach Historical Society says "The tinworks [at Ynyspenllwch] (one of the first to be built in Wales) possessed three rolling mills, annealing house, tin house, sorting room and pay office. It was then owned by a Mr Gibbons from Neath." He also says "The first two houses on Ynysymond Road, Glais was initially built as a school for the children of Ynyspenllwch Tinworks employees." [The houses are still there.]

An article in the Society's Summer 1996 newsletter refers to a dissertation on Ynyspenllwch hamlet and tinplate works by Mrs Wendy A Howard. I don't know where to obtain this - possibly the Miners' Library in Swansea.

[Peter 25.5.2000 G]

Follow on ;

The following extracts are taken from The Chronology of the Tinplate Works of  Great Britain


1647 A lease dated 29th March , 1647 granted to Robt. CHALLONER and Wm  SANDY - both merchants of Bristol - includes, "One forge or ironmill lately  built or erected"

1656 A lease dated 5th December from Herbert EVANS to David EVANS & John  LLEWELLYN includes " All that forge, ironwork, messuages, lands and tenements  called Ynyspennllwch in the parish of Llangevelach aforesaid , in the tenure  of Thomas FOORD, Gent."

1726 Sir Humphrey MACKWORTH mentions in a letter dated 29th May 1726 " Only  three good men required to carry on the Rolling, Slitting and Wire Mills at Ynyspenllwch."

1741 Lease granted 22nd May 1741 to John MORRIS and Thomas LEWIS

1747 On surrender of the 1741 lease a new lease was granted to Rowland PYTT  of Gloucester, J MORSE and T LEWIS. In the will of Mr Rowland PYTT dated 1753  mention is made of the "The Rolling Mill and Tinworks at Ynyspenllwch" . Rowland PYTT (of Raglan) was High Sheriff of Monmouthshire in 1758

1769 Lease granted to COLES, LEWIS & Co. by Sir Herbert MACKWORTH of the  Ynyspenllwch Rolling Mill " To roll or slit one ton of iron yearly into hoops or rods" William COLES of Cadoxton was the son in law of Mr Rowland PYTT and he died  prior to February 1783

c1780 John MIERS & Co were the lessees of the works and in 1799 the  executors of Mr John MIERS purchased the property from the Gnoll Estate. The MIERS family associated themselves with Ynysygerwen shortly after 1770. John  MIERS was a London Merchant and an importer of German Tinplates. In 1752 he  held the office of Master of the Worshipful Company of Tinplate Workers and  his son and grandson also both occupied the Chair. The familys connection  with Ynysygerwn and Aberdulais continued for about 50 years.

1791 "In the plan of the intended Swansea Canal the only tin mills shown  were those at Ynyspenllwch."

Oct 1813 Advertisement in the "Cambrian" : "Clydach Tinplate works to be sold  containing 2 Blast Furnaces, Fineries, and Forges , a capital rolling mill  and other necessary appendages for carrying on the business to great  advantage" Ynispenllwch was the only Tinplate Works in Swansea Valley at that  date.

1825 Property leased for a term of 60 years to Messrs William LLEWELLYN &  John COOK (trading under the title of Wm LLEWELLYN & Son)

1850 Proprieters : Messrs Wm LLEWELLYN & Co. Mr Llewellyn Llewellyn , manager . Mr Wm Llewellyn died 1857.

1860 On the death of Mr Llewellyn LLEWELLYN (son of Mr William Llewellyn) his brother in law, Mr Henry Strick assumed the management of the works. Mr John  PLAYER married a niece of Mr Henry STRICK, which establishes an interesting  connection between Mr W J Percy PLAYER and Mr William LLEWELLYN.

1860 Messrs STRICK & FRANCIS proprietors.(The STRICK & LLEWELLYN families  also acquired the AMMAN IRON Co , Amman Works , Brynamman, GLam

1867 The Ynyspenllwch Iron & Tinplate Co Ltd formed by Messrs Richard  THOMAS, ? JONES (of the Clydach Post Office) , W GETHING, and others. One of  the first Limited Liability Companies to make tinplates. Mr THOMAS left in  1871 (when he leased the Lydbrook Works)

1875 The Ynyspenllwch Iron & Tinplate Co Ltd ceased trading.

1876 Proprietors, The Tawe Tinplate Co. which ceased trading in 1879.

1884 Works acquired by the Birchgrove Steel & Tinplate Co Ltd. Mr (later  Sir) Richard MARTIN, Managing Director, H A CHAPMAN and Mr F W GIBBINS Manager. Mr GIBBINS left to build the Eagle Works at Neath in 1890

1893 The plant comprised 5 mills.

1897 The plant was dismantled and premises converted into a Canister Works  by Mr David JOHN.

[Pat 27.5.2000 G]

Landore, copper works

Robert Morris

The early 1720s saw the name of Robert Morris of Swansea becoming more prominent. He had aquired form Dr John Lane, a chemist of Bristol, possibly in payment of debt, a copper works at Landore.  By all accounts he was a man of native shrewdness and cunning and one who was very familiar with the copper industry.

In June 1727 he went to Cornwall to purchase ores which he did to a considerable quantity at great advantage making the essay himself. The profits of his transactions there in ore purchases over about two months was not far short of £2000. This trip to Cornwall was the groundwork for all their future profits. At that time he bought upwards of 900 tons . [Robert Morris letters " History of the Copper Concern and matters incidental thereto."]

The book accredited below shows a letter written by Robert Morris in Dec 1728 in which he expounds his  theory that the conventional wisdom of " rich ores are worked cheaper than poor ones" was mistaken.

He also had an awareness of the varying costs in different markets. ' He calculated in 1726 that in copper making he could do as much in Swansea for £100 as in Hayle [Cornwall] for £160; this he wrote to Sir William Pendarvis near Truro, which Sir William had great mines and smelted there some of his own ores.'

[Based on "Accounting, Costing and Cost Estimation[Welsh Industry 1700-1830]" by Haydn Jones 1985, Gareth Hick s 8 June 2000]

From the Morris MSS , re copper smelting.

Price lists were on hand to enable calculations to be made of values of materials used, thus, in the Morris MSS for the year 1727 several articles are priced viz;

Stowbridge clay and bricks 25/- qr.ton, 55sh qr. thousand, 50/- qr. thousand.
Deal boards, cost in Cornwall £7.15 per hundred.
A good cart horse from Herefordshire £5
Bones---6d. for 120 from ye Tripe houses, Bristol

Foot note; bones were used in the smelting of copper.

[Based on  "Accounting, Costing and Cost Estimation[Welsh Industry 1700-1830]" by Haydn Jones 1985, Gareth Hicks 12 July 2000 G ]


" Llanguvelack Copper Works, Swansea"

The Balance Account for the above business as at 31 Dec 1745 show a capital utilised of c £50,000. The partners in the business were;
Richard Lockwood, Edwards Elliston, Hester Gibbon, Exors of Edward Gibbon, Exors of Edward Mornington, Robert Morris and John Lockwood.

The list of people owed money by the business included the names of;
John Phillips, John Vaughan, The Duke of Beaufort, Thomas Popkins, Charles du Bois, William Perrin, Stephen Peter Godin, Thomas Goldney, William Bevan, Phillip Jenkins, Thomas Rogers and Cutts Maydwell, Esq.

The list of people who owed money to the business included the names of;
James Laroche[of Bristol], Thomas Morris, Thomas Bennett of Swansea, Mark Grey of Swansea, William Johnson, Thomas Turner of Birmingham, Moses Slade, William Thayts[ possibly Thoyts], Sir James Creed, George Medley of Lisbon, Francis Thorne of Dublin.

There is also a separate list of the business's debtors which are "deemed dubious or desperate" and this includes the following names;
John Saunders, John Barley, George Causeway, John Jones, John Hyat, George Lester, William Watkins, William Brokinbrow, John Lord, Richard Matthews, John Mason, Francis Bills, Thomas Badger, John Cowper,  J. Tavarrer, M. De Costa, F. Ferreira, Longfield Horker.

[Based on "Accounting, Costing and Cost Estimation[Welsh Industry 1700-1830]" by Haydn Jones 1985, Gareth Hicks  8 June 2000 G]

Llandeilo Tal-y-bont

The parish of Llandeilo Tal-y-bont is within the boundaries of the new county of Swansea and contains the village of Pontarddulais. It is an old parish mentioned in the book of Llandaf  c1150 AD when the parish boundaries extended over the westerrn banks of the river Llwchwr into present day Carmarthenshire.

In the 1861 census there were five named hamlets, Glynllwchwr [Llwchwr valley], Ynysllwchwr [Llwchwr river meadow], Gwenlais [prob. white or wild stream], Pryscedwin [Cedwin's copse]and Tirybrenin [the king's land].

The old parish church [c14th cent.] is being rebuilt at Saint Ffagan's Museum while the parish registers , usually kept at the vicarage, are at present with the Archive Service in County Hall, Swansea.

[Deric John 13.6.2000 G]



See  Cwmgors a'r Waun for links relating to online material for the wider area centred on those two villages.

See Genuki for other material re this parish


What was the connection between Llandyfan[in  Llandybie parish, CMN] and the furnace in Ynyscedwyn, Ystradgynlais ? An inhabitant of Ynyscedwyn said this;

"Mr Parsons, the owner of Ynyscedwyn, only made crude iron, which was melted into pig-iron at Ynyscedwyn. He hired the forge in Llandyfan, along with six mules owned by the owner of the forge to haul the iron over Mynydd Du. After this, a lot of pig-iron went to Llandyfan, and all the remainder to Neath....It was not long before Mr Parsons set up a new forge in Clydach, and when it was ready, he gave up the one in Llandyfan completely. I am certain that no iron has gone from Ynyscedwyn to Llandyfan for 70 years except for one hammer for the forge, which was sent about 67 years ago."

It appears therefore that the sending of iron from Ynyscedwyn to Llandyfan stopped c 1789

[Based on The History of Llandybie by Gomer Roberts 1939[Translated by Ivor Griffiths]. Gareth]





Our story date as far back as 1924 when the little coal-mining village of Craigcefnparc knew no buses. The country folk peacefully went about their daily tasks, never dreaming about a bus service for the village nor anything of the like. It was then that one, William Griffiths, a blacksmith in the Graigola Merthyr colliery bought a Ford car. A little later, the same William Griffiths opened a shop, and he purchased a Ford lorry to take out the goods. Here, on a very small scale, the bus service commenced its rapid development.

Seats were made to fit into the lorry by one David John Morgan, the village carpenter, and when not in use for shop purposes, the lorry, which was able to carry fourteen seated passengers, was used for making trips or running a service now and again to Clydach.

This proved successful, and at the beginning of 1925 Wiliam Griffiths purchased a real bus which held twenty passengers. It was a Lancia Saloon Bus, painted red, and was called the Parc Eclipse. This was an important step in the development of a 'bus service for Craigcefnparc.

Every Saturday a 'bus left Craigcefnparc at 12 noon and at 2.00 p.m. respectively "en route" for Swansea via Rhydypandy, Pontlasse, Morriston. The Lancia was a very good machine, but it had to run under all conditions, and was rapidly wearing away. Many months later the Lancia chassis was sent away, and a new bus, a Spa, painted a green and yellow, was bought. The Griffiths' Garage is situated on the 'Bank' and mainly consists of zinc.

By this time William Griffiths had secured to run his buses to Swansea via Clydach and Morriston, but was not allowed to pick up passengers in the Borough of Swansea. The people of the village and of Upper Clydach gave their whole hearted support to the "Eclipse" Company.

Another 'bus was now soon purchased, as the business was thriving. It was a twenty six seater "Dubros W & G. London!", a machine which gave the company a great deal of trouble.

In 1926 a real time-table was set up, buses running week-days as well as Saturdays from the village to Swansea. In the latter part of the year, a thirty two seater Albion bus was purchased. This was the first of its type for Griffiths to own as the driver was seated above the bonnet. There are five sons, and by now all are working on the buses.

By this time a manager was essential, and the Rev. Walter Bowen B.A. a son-in-law of Wm Griffiths was given the post. Another Albion bus of the same design quickly followed, a third coming in July 1927. By this time the W & G had been disposed of, as the engine was not up to much good, especially for the extremely steep hills around the village.

At this period the Eclipse company, with two other companies bought the Fairwood Garage, Swansea: later came into full possession of it, and renamed it Northampton Place, and an office was established there-in.

The Spa then parted from the company, the most efficient and most powerful machine that the company had seen, and a second-hand Dodge fourteen-seater 'bus was purchased. At the time when the eclipse first used it, it had terrific acceleration, and could shoot up even the Lone Hill, with passengers on 2nd gear!

As time was wearing on the Company was employing more hands, and soon after, a Dennis 20-seater 'bus was bought.

At this period, another company, the "Leyland Saloon Sevice commenced to run buses to Craigcefnparc as far up as Graig-Cwm. They did not succeed to much extent, and soon gave it up.

It was then that Griffiths started to run a 'bus up to Graig Cwm, and also over to Salem every Friday evening and on Saturdays. With the coming of the Dennis, an Eclipse service commenced to run over to Glais, and soon the Eclipse Saloon Service was well known throughout the district.

Another Albion twenty-five seater arrived not long after, but in August 1928 the company, with all other small bus companies had to hear a case in London, brought against them because of the picking up of passengers in the Borough of Swansea. They had been warned on previous occasions, but the case was decided in their favour, and they were still allowed to run their service, although they did not have the privilege of picking up passengers in the Borough.

The service to Graig-Cwm, Salem and Glais, was rapidly declining as the company needed its buses for the main highways. The company secured licenses to run buses up to Swansea Valley as far as Ystalyfera, and thus more buses were again needed.

The Dodge met with a tragic end over in Glais. One day while being driven on Glais Road by the Eclipse Mechanic, the engine burst into flames, and the well-known Dodge was destroyed.

Two 'buses, a Leyland Lion, and a Leyland Tiger were soon added to the Eclipse 'buses, and the services up the valley prospered to a very great extent.

The Dennis was now disposed of as the engine was giving the company continual trouble, mainly from the magneto.

Nevertheless. Another Leyland bus, a lion, arrived during the winter of 1929. All the Leyland are thirty-six seaters, and at the present time, the Eclipse have seven buses on the road, and they employ approximately twenty-eight men. Hence a colliery blacksmith gave a boon to his native village, and the Eclipse Saloon Service is very well known today.

J. R.

[Deric  John]


Spelter, what is it ?

The town of Llansamlet , about 2 miles north east of Swansea, and in that county borough,  overlooks the wide lower valley of the river Tawe. There are collieries, copper and tinplate works here, but the place is noted  chiefly for its spelter undertaking, which is said to be the greatest in the country.

To the vast majority of people, spelter is a puzzle; they have no idea what it is, or what is done with it.  It is really zinc, and originally one of its chief uses was for galvanising , by providing a coating impervious to weather conditions on any sheet iron dipped in a molten bath of it. It has now a myriad uses ; zinc ozide for paint, zinc chloride, sulphide, peroxide etc. Concentrates, or spelter ore, which looks like  a brown dust, is imported from Australia, and the first process is to draw off the sulphur, resulting in the making of concentrated sulphuric acid. The desulpherated ore, mixed with coal and salt, becomes blende , which, passed through retort process, pours out like a silvery or bluish-white liquid, the actual spelter. This solidifies in square moulds and is zinc.

[Glamorgan, Its History and Topography by C J O Evans, 1938. Gareth 4 June 2001 G]



In 1874 a three mill Tinplate works driven by steam power was erected by  Daniel Edwards & J Davies trading as Daniel Edwards & Co.

In Feb 1895 Daniel Edwards ceased trading and the now 8 mill works were  aquired by his son Mr W H Edwards, who was also proprietor of the Ely  Tinplate Works at Llantrisant and the Llwydarth Tinplate Works at Maesteg

Mr Daniel Edwards died 30 Dec 1915 and Mr W H Edwards died 28 May 1919

In Jan 1920 Sir John Bryn Edwards Bt son of Mr W H Edwards sold the works to  Messrs LLewellyn Davies, Frank R Phillips, David Richards, R Tilden Smith , and Leon Vermont for £793,919 and in Feb 1920 the Duffryn Works Ltd were registered with £1,000.000 . They ceased trading in September 1923

Aug 1923 Works aquired by Messrs The Grovesend Steel & Tinplate Co Ltd and  ceased to trade as a separate company.

Mar 1946 11 mills operating

May 1947 The tinplate & machinery were acquired by The Steel Company of Wales , the steelworks remaining the property of Richard Thomas & Baldwins.

[Extract taken from the Chronology of the Tinplate works of Great Britain]

[Pat   8 Dec 2000 G]


  People who died there

In the churchyard at Oystermouth [ Mumbles] is the grave of Thomas Bowdler [d.1825], who, in 1818, published an edition of Shakespeare specially prepared for the use of boys and girls and thus became the father of all who "bowdlerize" a literary work.
The term "bowdlerize" means to expurgate , specifically  in this case to remove objectionable  material from a book.

Not far from Oystermouth is Caswell Bay, the home for the last months of her life of Frances Ridley Havergal.

[Based on the Ward Lock Guide Book [Cardiff and South Wales],1928-29. Gareth Hicks 1.6.2000 G]

Follow on:

At the top of Caswell hill is 'Havergal', a house named after Frances Ridley HAVERGAL, the hymnwriter, who spent her last years there, 1878-1879. A plaque on the garden wall commemorates her.

[Based on The Story of the Village of Mumbles', G Gabb,  1986 . Diana Davies, 2.6.2000]

The chancel [of St. Peter's Newton] was built to honour the memory of Frances Ridley HAVERGAL (d.1879) who lived nearby. She was an assiduous church worker and contributed seven hymns to Hymns Ancient and Modern (nos. 186, 203, 212, 259, 307, 356, and 485)

[From A History of All Saints' Church Oystermouth by Geoffrey R. Orrin and Dr. F.G. Cowley. First impression 1990. ISBN 0 86383 705 0. Diana Davies 8 June 2000 G]

Another follow on;

I have an interesting full-page article from the "Christian Herald" of 25th October 1984 called "The Singer of the Sanctuary". I cut it out and kept it then as, many years before, there was in the possession of the family a black-edged memorial card, now unfortunately lost, for Frances Ridley Havergal. There was some religious connection between this famous hymnwriter and my great grandfather when they attended churches on Gower.

Frances Ridley Havergal was born at Astley, Worcs on 14 December 1836 and she died on 3rd June 1879 at Park Villa, Mumbles, where she had lived since October the previous year. She was buried on 9th June at Astley, near Bewdley, Worcs in the family grave.

Fanny, as Frances was known, was the daughter of Canon Havergal, rector at Astley, the first modern authority on ecclesiastical music and psalmody, who refused the Professorial Chair of Music at Oxford University as he was so devoted to the ministry of the Gospel. She was known to be a good linguist, fluent in French and German as well as reading Greek. She had a beautiful singing voice and wrote religious poems and hymns which were printed and circulated widely.

Her best-known hymn is probably the one that begins:-

"Take my life, and let it be, Consecrated, Lord, to Thee".

She held a temperance meeting with sailors and village people in Mumbles on 17th May, but caught a chill there which later led to inflammation of the lungs and death.

[Mary Jane Stephenson 2.6.2000 G]

Murder most foul

Speaking of Oystermouth Churchyard and Inquest records, I bet not everyone knows this either:

2nd July 1734 John Maddocks and his wife of the Elms were murdered by their son, John, 'in a dredfull manner'.

[Diana Davies 2.6.2000]

Victorian stinks

"Victorian Mumbles was attractive - from a distance. Some of the household rubbish was collected by David ELEY who had a butcher's shop in the Dunns.

All he did was to put offal, blood and refuse in a pit on the beach, so that when the tide was low and the sun was hot.....

Nobody minded dumping rubbish along the shore and those drains that existed did not take sewage far out on to the beach. The M.O.H. often had to spread disinfectant to reduce what he called the 'stinks'. "

From: The Story of the Village of Mumbles by Gerald Gabb M.A. [1986]

[Diana Davies 12 May 2001]


From the Maybery papers at the NLW;

The journal or day book records shows details of  coals sold from Thomas Mansel Talbot's land at Llanmorlais in 1768 to the following ; David Williams of Landeloi, Sam Morris of Lanmorlais. The records also show that "money arising" on 30 weys of coal, at 8/6 per wey, was £12.15.0, this covered the period 7th August 1767 to 30 Sept 1769, not necessarily all to the above two men since the names are only a part extract from the records.

Similar records exist for "coal sold from under John Lucas Esq . Land at Llanmorlais" around this period

[Based on "Accounting, Costing and Cost Estimation[Welsh Industry 1700-1830]" by Haydn Jones 1985, Gareth Hicks  14  June 2000 G]