Richard Thomas and Baldwins
Richard Thomas and Baldwins Ltd (RTB) was a major Wales based iron, steel and tinplate producer, formed in 1948 by the merger of Richard Thomas & Co Ltd with Baldwins Ltd. It was absorbed into British Steel in 1967. The business now forms part of Corus, a subsidiary of Tata Steel.
Richard Thomas & Co
Richard Thomas & Co Ltd was an iron, steel and tinplate producer and colliery proprietor. The founder, Richard Thomas (died 1916), leased the Lydbrook tinplate works in Gloucestershire in 1871 and from 1876 also leased the Lydney tinplate works. He went on to acquire local collieries and in 1888 at the Melingriffith Tin Plate Works near Cardiff. Richard Thomas & Co, in which Richard was succeeded as managing director by his son Richard Beaumont Thomas in 1888, became one of the principal tinplate manufacturers in the country. The Ebbw Vale Steel Iron and Coal Company was taken over in 1936, and a new steel plant and strip mill was erected in the town.
Baldwins Ltd began as EP&W Baldwin, ironfounders of Stourport. In 1870 Alfred Baldwin bought out his relatives to become the sole proprietor of the firm, but continued to trade under the old name. In 1888, he brought his 21-year-old son Stanley, afterwards Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, into the business. The firm was incorporated as EP&W Baldwin Ltd in 1898, and gradually acquired a number of tinplate works, mainly in South Wales.
Richard Thomas & Baldwins
In 1951 RTB was nationalised and placed under the Iron and Steel Corporation of Great Britain. Under Conservative rule in 1953 it passed to the Iron and Steel Holding and Realisation Agency in readiness for privatisation. However, its size - it was the UK's largest steel company - inhibited its sale. It was still in public ownership when the industry was re-nationalised under British Steel in 1967.
The major event during public ownership as a separate company was the official opening in 1962 of the Spencer Steelworks at Llanwern, a wholly new plant on a greenfield site to the east of Newport. This was named after H F Spencer, managing director of RTB at the time construction of the works was announced in 1956.