Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,110 pages of information and 233,634 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Villiers Spelter Co

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near Swansea, zinc (spelter) refiners

1873 The Villiers plant opened roasting zinc ores

The British zinc industry declined as it could not compete with American and German supplies.

WWI Zinc was an important strategic component of the war industry, particularly in the production of brass ammunition casings and galvanised steel sheeting; the majority of the British zinc industry was based in the Swansea area.

Recognising that the country could no longer rely on foreign imports of zinc, the government attempted to revive the industry and maximise the output from its already antiquated plants.

At some point the Villiers plant became the British Metals Extraction Company Ltd. (or was this British Metal Corporation?)

However the local pollution from the plant caused many complaints and the Ministry of Munitions set up an eqnuiry.

1919 The British Metals Extraction Company closed, never having recovered from the restrictions placed on it by the Ministry of Munitions

Early 1920s the plant re-opened under the Villiers name once more

1924 Finally closed as part of the general demise of the British zinc industry


By 1925 the spelter was still operating independently.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • GGAT 130: The Sinews of War: South East Wales Industry and The First World War, 2015, by Johnny Crawford