Tredegar Iron and Coal Company
- For the ironworks in the US state of Virginia, see Tredegar Iron Works.
Tredegar Iron and Coal Company was an important 19th century ironworks in Tredegar, Wales, which due to its need for coke became a major developer of coal mines and particularly the Sirhowy Valley of South Wales. It is most closely associated with the Industrial Revolution and coal mining in the South Wales Valleys.
In 1778 an iron furnace was built in the upper Sirhowy Valley by Thomas Atkinson and William Barrow, who came to the area from London. Fuel was needed for the furnace so men were employed to dig coal at Bryn Bach and Nantybwch, the first small scale coal mining operation in the area. The furnace failed in 1794, and hence also the business.
In 1797, Samuel Homfray, with partners Richard Fothergill and the Matthew Monkhouse built a new furnace which they called the Sirhowy Ironworks, leasing the land in Bedwellty, Newport from the Tredegar Estate.
In 1800, the company was renamed the Tredegar Iron Company, named in honour of the Tredegar Estate at Tredegar House and Tredegar Park in Newport. The company was taken over by the Harfords of Ebbw Vale in 1818.
It was expanded in the late 1830s and early 1840s, producing significant volumes of rails, largely for export. The works was purchased by the Tredegar Iron Company Limited in 1873 and nine years later began to produce steel.
The company ironworks were developed on a single site, which later became known as Whiteheads, after that company took over the southern section of the site in 1907. By 1850, TICC employed between 2000 and 3000 people at its 9 furnaces, mills shops and ancillary plants.
However, all of this production on such a vast scale had a price. Adrian Vaughn, in his 1985 book "Grub, Water & Relief," mentions that in 1832 John Gooch took a managerial post in the Tredegar iron works:
|“||Utterly remote at the head of the Sirhowy valley, the town was a man-made hell. Men and children worked killing hours in the smoke and filth of the foundries and were maimed by molten metal. Their only medical help was that administered by the 'Penny Doctor.' Wages were paid in Homfray's private coinage — banks were not allowed in the town — so workers spent their coins in Homfray's shops, buying food at Homfray's prices. Poverty and malnutrition followed and disease followed both||”|
With many people in such a small area, and with poor sanitation provision, there were several cholera epidemics in the town in the 19th century. A dedicated cholera burial ground was later established at Cefn Golau.
In 1875, the company renamed itself the Tredegar Iron and Coal Company, to allow development of additional coal mining capacity.
In 1891, the company ceased production of iron, but continued to develop coal mines and produce coal. The former Tredegar Ironworks were effectively abandoned, with Whiteheads taking over the southern section of the site from 1907. In 1931, they also closed down their operations, moving everything to their Newport works.
Though now almost entirely redeveloped, traces of the terracing of the valley sides at the site can still be noted at OS grid reference SO 155093.
Mines developed by the company
- 1806: The Dukes Pit, Tredegar. Named after the Duke of Beaufort on whose land it was sunk
- 1806: Pwll Mawr, Neath
- 1834: Trist No.1 and No.2 pits
- 1841: Upper Ty Trist Pit
- 1868: Trist No.3 Pit
- 1876: Witworth Colliery
- 1898: McLaren Colliery
- 1907: Oakdale Colliery
- 1908: Waterloo Colliery
- 1910: Markham Colliery
- 1926: Wyllie Colliery
- ????: Bedwellty Pits
- ????: Pochin Colliery
- "A look at Old Tredegar in photographs" Volume 1 Philip Prosser Old Bakehouse Publications 1990
- B. Gardner's History of Tredegar and other information
- "History". tredegar.co.uk. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
- "Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council: Cefn Golau Cholera Cemetery". Retrieved 2010-11-05.
- "Tredegar Iron and Coal Company". Durham National Coal Mining Museum. Retrieved 14 April 2011.
- Roberts, R. 2005 Southeast Wales Industrial Ironworks Landscapes, Year 1: the core ironworks areas Report for Cadw by GGAT p65
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Sirhowy Ironworks.|
|This article about a Welsh company is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|
|This article about a Welsh building or structure is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|