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Upper Swansea Valley
The Story of Iron 4

by Len Ley


George Crane's tenure
In July 1837, Richard Douglas Gough leased the Ynyscedwyn Iron Works, together with the mineral rights and the house Tycoch to George Crane. A branch canal had been cut connecting the works to the main Swansea Valley Canal and this together with the developing tram roads, constituted a very effective means of haulage.

Plan of the Iron Works from the Ynyscedwyn estate records. (Note the spur of the Swansea Canal at the top of the image)

By kind permission
of the West Glamorgan
Record Office
 (ref. D/D/Yc 1175)

plan of the worksThe works continued to prosper under Crane, and by the year of his death in 1846 the seven furnaces were all in blast and the production of Anthracite Iron was rising rapidly and sustaining Ynyscedwyn as a major iron-making concern. Never the less, it was shortly to be overshadowed by the recently completed iron works at Ystalyfera, then operating the hot-blast method at full capacity and expanding rapidly. 
  Crane acquired five collieries and these were supplying the furnaces with coal and in some cases large quantities of iron ore. Other supplies of ore were mined locally and some foreign supplies were brought in from Swansea. The Brecon Forest Tram Road had now been extended to Gurnos wharf, with a loading jetty at the junction of the canal spur with its main counterpart. The connecting works tram road then allowed supplies of fuel from the Hendreladus colliery and limestone from Penwyllt to be conveyed directly to the furnaces.
From the
collections of
the late
John Morris

Cover of the Rule Book of the Iron Company's collieries
  Ynyscedwyn continued to be reasonably successful and, in 1853, six stacks were in blast and a thousand men were employed on the site, with a further 240 working in the collieries owned by the works.

County Archives

This entry from the records of the Breconshire Quarter Sessions is a stark reminder of just how different working conditions were at the time of George Crane. Here one George Jones is imprisoned for two months with hard labour at the complaint of Mr Crane for leaving his employment when contracted. 
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