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Thomas Joseph

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Thomas Joseph (1819-1890)

1891 Obituary [1]

THOMAS JOSEPH was born at Merthyr Tydvil on the 2nd of March, 1819. His education was received at the school of Mr. Taliesin Williams of that town, until at fourteen years of age he left in order to learn colliery management under his father, Morgan Joseph, who was then manager of the Plymouth Ironworks Collieries, Merthyr Tydvil. Having served his articles, he was entrusted, at the age of eighteen, with the sole management of the clay-ironstone mines, which then supplied all the ironstone used in the eight blast furnaces of these works, and in addition was engaged in the laying of railways in connection with them.

In 1843 he left this place, and in partnership with his brother-in-law, Samuel Thomas, of Merthyr Tydvil, opened a colliery a few miles below Merthyr, which developed a few years afterwards into a considerable coke-manufacturing works, and is now being re-started by Mr. S. Thomas’s sons, after being unworked for some years.

In 1845, under Mr. I. K. Brunel, he made the surveys, and prepared the parliamentary plans, for the Vale of Neath Railway from Merthyr station to opposite Aberdare, on which there is a tunnel a mile and a half long through the hill which lies between these towns.

Early in 1846 he undertook the management of the coal and clay ironstone mines of the Hirwain Ironworks, then in active operation, belonging to William Crawshay, of Cyfarthfa.

Towards the end of 1848, in partnership still with Mr. Samuel Thomas, he commenced the Sguborwen Collieries and Ironstone mines, and a few years afterwards the Bwllfa Dare steam coal-pits, both in the Aberdare valley. In 1856 the partnership between him and Mr. Thomas was dissolved, and he soon afterwards opened up for himself collieries on the No. 2 Rhondda bituminous seam in the Rhymney Bargoed and Rhymney valleys, and the Dunraven steam-coal collieries and pits near the head of the Rhondda valley. He also came to be the proprietor of the Blaenclydach colliery in that valley, on the No. 3 Rhondda bituminous seam. These collieries he sold one after the other in the course of years, and most of them, as well as those he won and opened up with Mr. Thomas, have been successful and profitable, and are not yet exhausted. Dunraven has been unsuccessful during the last period of depressed prices, but is now being worked to considerable advantage.

He introduced the edge-rail into use at Danyderi in 1843, instead of the tram-plate, which was before universally employed in the collieries and ironstone mines of South Wales. He contributed several papers to the South Wales Institute of Engineers on mining-subjects, and was much consulted in South Wales on these matters throughout his life; but his own colliery business kept him from following up mining engineering actively as a profession. He was an excellent surveyor and draughtsman, and his knowledge of geology, both general and local, was extensive and accurate.

Mr. Joseph was of a sociable, lovable disposition, and very generous. His eyesight failed very much a few years before his death; but he could see his way about, although he was not able to read. Although suffering from no organic disease, the hard work he had done for many years told upon his constitution.

Early in June, 1890, he became ill, and growing weaker and weaker, passed away on the 10th of July following, in the seventy-second year of his age.

Mr. Joseph was elected a Member of the Institution on the 25th of May, 1880.

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