Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Kidwelly Tinplate Works

From Graces Guide
Foden rolling mill engine preserved at Kidwelly Industrial Museum
Glanmor01.jpg
Cole, Marchent and Morley engine which drove tinplate rolling mill stands. Barring engine in foreground

of Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales

See also Kidwelly Industrial Museum and Kidwelly Tinplate Works: Rolling Mill Engines.

Collection of old photos here.

1737 Tinplate manufacture started at Kidwelly on the site of an earlier forge.

In 1737 Charles Gwynn built a tin works on the River Gwendraeth Fach, near Kidwelly (Cydweli). Anthony Rogers, who held a lease on a nearby iron forge, went into partnership with Gwynn. Rogers' son Lewis later obtained the works and in 1758 entered into a partnership with Robert Morgan, a Carmarthen ironmaster. Later the works were sold to Leonard Bilson Gwynn.

In 1801 the partnership of Haselwood, Hathaway and Perkins bought the Lower Works.

In 1808 the works were taken over by Thomas Waters.

1816 the renewal of the lease was granted to Philip Protheroe.

Some time after 1829 until 1838 Thomas Hay became tenant of the works, followed by brothers, Hugh H. Downham and Henry Ridout Downham.

1840 the brothers formed the Kidwelly Iron and Tin Plate Company and the works expanded into iron-making.

The works were offered for sale in 1846. However Hugh Downham, with partner William Briggs returned to trade for several years as Downham and Briggs.

1860 the works were bought by Jacob Chivers, who enlarged the works considerably. They operated under the name Gwendraeth Iron and Tinplate Works.

1877 Jacob's son Thomas took over the works and built the Upper Works.

By the late 1880s and 1890s the works were in decline and in 1887 Thomas Chivers, heavily in debt, closed the works and put them up for sale (see below).

1889 the Gwendraeth Tinplate Company was formed and production resumed, with Thomas Chivers remaining as one of the directors.

1896 Closed during a recesssion.

1899 the site was obtained by the Kidwelly Iron Sheet and Tinplate Company Limited but production only resumed at the Upper Works. The Lower Works were later dismantled.

1899 Advert: 'KIDWELLY, CARMARTHENSHIRE.
THE GWENDRAETH TINPLATE WORKS, KIDWELLY, NEAR LLANELLY, AND LEASEHOLD LAND AT LLANELLY, CARMARTHENSHIRE.
MR S. N. POWELL has been instructed by the Owners to submit for SALE by PUBLIC AUCTION, at the Stepney Arms Hotel, Llanelly, on THURSDAY, April 20th. 1899, in Lots, the highly important FREEHOLD PROPERTY, Known as the
GWENDRAETH TINPLATE WORKS,
with the plant, machinery, railways, residences, cottages, corn mill. and other buildings, and fields and lands connected therewith, the entirety occupying an area of upwards of sixty-one acres, the whole of which is situate in the ancient borough of Kidwelly (at which there is a station on the G W.R. Main Line), a short distance from the Shipping Port of Burry Port (with which the Works have direct Railway communication) and about nine miles from the important town of Llanelly.
The plant, buildings, etc., in the upper portion of the works are of very recent construction, and consequently in first-class order.
In the Upper Works there are 8 complete black-plate mills (26in. and 30in.), driven by 2 inverted tandem compound engines (by Foden and [at] Sandbach); 2 sets of Babcock's patent tubular boilers, 2 of Lowcock's patent fuel economisers, 6 pairs of cold rolls with separate engine, and other necessary buildings, and plant.
In the Lower Works there are, in addition, 3 powerful engines, 3 mills, the foundations of a fourth mill, 6 Lancashire boilers, &c., &c.
The whole of the Works are lighted by electricity, produced by a first-class plant. The water supply is excellent. Railway sidings and tramways run through the works, affording. every facility for transit at moderate rates. A first-class residence, with stabling and gardens, 2 cottages, and several enclosures of land will be included with the works, embracing an area of about 24 acres.
The other parts of the estate include several enclosures of rich pasture and meadow land, 10 cottages and gardens, a water corn mill, with house, &c., occupying together an area of about 36 acres.
There will also be offered for Sale at the same time and place an EXCELLENT LEASEHOLD SITE FOR WORKS, comprising 2 acres, in close proximity to the Great Western Railway and Docks at Llanelly.
Sale at 3.30 o'clock in the Afternoon, prompt time.
Plans and particulars of the works, with schedules of the plant and any other information, and cards to view may be obtained from the Auctioneer, Market-street, Llanelly; or from Roderick and Richards, Solicitors, Llanelly.'[1]

1901 the company went into voluntary liquidation.

1904 the Kidwelly Tinplate Company Ltd was registered and took over the works.

1923 The South Wales Tinplate Corporation was registered - which represented a selling organisation for: [2]

1931 The last four works above resigned from the Corporation.

1939 A founder of the Llanelly Associated Tinplate Companies[3]

1941 Production ended.

The works were later used for storage purposes and finally dismantled in 1946. The site was offered for sale in 1947.

Much of the above information is condensed from here [4]

The Kidwelly Industrial Museum was developed on the site, providing a tangible record of the once-massive tinplate industry in South Wales. The relics of the tinplate works inluded a water-powered mill, a plaque of 1801 recording a rebuilding of that year, and large steam engines which powered the rolling mills. At the north end of the site the headframe and winding engine from Morlais Colliery were re-erected. Unfortunately the museum is now (2020) closed. Whether it will reopen is not known.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. South Wales Daily News, 15 April 1899
  2. [1] A History of Carmarthenshire
  3. The Times, Apr 12, 1939
  4. [2] JISC Archives Hub: Kidwelly Tinplate Works Records
  • [3] Coflein - Kidwelly