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Upper Swansea Valley
The Story of Iron 1

by Len Ley

  This is an edited version of a detailed essay by local historian Mr Len Ley. The full version is available on request at Ystradgynlais Branch Library.

 The site of
Iron Works


Iron-making has a long history in the area and is said to go back to the beginning of the 17th century. Theophilus Jones records that a piece of iron, stamped 1612, was found 26 years later in an old cinder bed at Ynyscedwyn. If this is so then it is likely that metal was smelted here in the reign of Elizabeth 1. The first recorded evidence shows that a Mr Brunton of London constructed a furnace at Ynyscedwyn in 1628. Later, Richard Crowley leased the works and built a furnace which later fell into ruin. By 1711 Ambrose Crowley and John Hanbury were occupiers of the site.
In 1717 the works were producing about 200 tons of pig iron per annum using local ore, limestone from the Cribarth, and smelting with charcoal transported by horse and pannier from any accessible source. This restricted production to the available means of haulage. In 1750 the Ynyscedwyn furnace was one of seven in South Wales.

 The Ynyscedwyn works marked on the plans of the Swansea Canal Company 1794.

Powys County Archives B/QS/

Map of Ystradgynlais 1794
  In October 1788 James Gough of Ynyscedwyn and John Woodhouse of Aymestrey in Herefordshire, leased the site to Richard Parsons, an Iron Master of Cadoxton, and Rees Williams of the same parish. The lease included the dwelling house called Ty Coch; the water rights on the River Twrch to power the water wheels and engines of the furnaces; and the working of minerals on Mr Gough's land within certain restrictions. 
  There are7 pages on The Story of Iron. Use the box links below to view other pages.