Nantyglo Iron and Coal Works History

Nantyglo Iron and Coal Works History

Nantyglo Iron and Coal Works History.
I understand a lot of books, other articles and web pages have been written on the exploits of the Bailey Bros and the alleged tyranny of Crawshay Bailey, though this is just a brief non-judgemental timeline with a few previously unknown/unreported details on his/their life and times at Nantyglo whether it be good or bad, I am only relating what was reported about them at the time from old newspaper reports and other official documentation, also the history of Nantyglo House. (all information as been collected from newspapers and other documentation, non of what I have written is from any other websites, it’s all from original sources)

The Bailey’s.
Mr Joseph Bailey born 1783 and his younger brother Crawshay Bailey born October 1789 in the North of England were brought to this neighbourhood by their uncle the Ironmaster Mr Richard Crawshay when they were children and lived at Catharthfa in Merthyr.  On the death of their uncle Richard Crawshay in 1810 Joseph Bailey was left a large amount of money, (there was no mention in the report of Crawshay Bailey receiving any ?) In the following few years all reports were of just Mr Joseph Bailey.

In 1810 Mr Joseph Bailey went into partnership at Cyfarthfa with his cousin Mr William Crawshay and his second cousin Mr Benjamin Hall, this partnership lasted until October 1812 and officially dissolved on November 30th 1812, Joseph Bailey sold his share to Mr William Crawshay. Mr Bailey was also in a partnership with Messrs Wayne and Williams under the name of William Williams & Co at Nantyglo.

The Nantyglo Iron Works
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There is a consensus that the Nantyglo Iron Works were established on a small scale in the late 1790s by Harford, Hill & Co. The Iron Works were left idle and later leased by Mr Matthew Wayne being recognised as one of the founders, who later went into partnership with Joseph Bailey.

Messrs Williams, Wayne & Bailey.
Mr Joseph Bailey was in partnership with Mr Matthew Wayne and Mr William Williams, who owned the Company Shop at Nantyglo who purchased the lease on the Nantyglo Iron Works which at the time was small scale and had been idle for many years. The partnership of Messrs Wayne, Bailey and Williams was dissolved over a period of years between 1812 and 1814.

In 1814, Mr Matthew Wayne disposed of his share to Mr Joseph Bailey and Mr Crawshay Bailey took his place. Mr Joseph Bailey in conjunction with his brother Crawshay carried on the works as Messrs J. & C. Bailey, they expanded, enlarged the Iron Works and made it one of the most well known and famous works in the World, also leasing and buying vast swathes of land and the mineral rights from Nantyglo to Aberbeeg.

At their Nantyglo works Crawshay was in charge of the coal mining part of their partnership empire and Joseph the above ground and iron workings. The Nantyglo Works were located on the site of the now demolished Nantyglo Comprehensive School. Apart from the vast Iron Works there was also coal mines, a large reservoir, offices, company stores and shops etc.

In 1821 the brothers paid for the construction of a tramway known as “Bailey’s Tramway” from Nantyglo to the Brecon Canal then onto Newport in order to avoid paying the high tolls exacted by the Monmouthshire Canal Company.

Around 1833 the brothers purchased the Beaufort Iron Works and they worked them with the Nantyglo Works which were both worked until 1871.

j-bailey-signatureIn 1835 Joseph Bailey was elected to Parliament for Worcester. As seen (right) is an image of his signature on a Parliamentary Free Front dated July 1835.

In 1836 Crawshay was involved in a Mining and Trading Company along with Samuel Homfray, Mr R. J. Blewitt, Mr Brewer and Mr T. Protheroe.

In a report published in the Railway Magazine in June 1838 It states the following – In Great Britain there are 239 furnaces in blast; 14 out of blast; 31 building; and 83 contemplated. The annual produce of iron is 1,008,280 ton. The weekly produce 19,390 tons of iron and 9000 tons of bar iron. To produce this quantity, 3,000,000 tons of coal are required and the labour of 40,000 persons. The most extensive manufacturing firms are , Messrs J. & C. Bailey and Messrs Guest, Lewis & Co. These works produce more than one-quarter of the whole amount of iron manufactured in the Empire and nearly one-half of the whole amount of bar iron. Messrs J. & C. Bailey alone manufactured 83,000 tons of iron and 40,000 tons of bar iron being one twelfth  of the whole quantity of the former and one tenth of the latter.

In October 1839 Crawshay Bailey purchased the Glanbane Estate, Llandovery. It was over 10,000 acres of freehold land containing 57 freehold farms and a seat in the House of Commons. Its former owner was Mr Lewis Loyd the eminent London Banker, though owing to a slight technicality in the title he no longer wanted the property and had sold it to Mr Crawshay Bailey for the sum of 80,000 Guineas.

Sometime in the late 1830s to early 1840s Messrs J. and C. Bailey, Mr Thomas Greatrex and Mr William Williams opened their own Bank, called the Monmouthshire Agricultural and Commercial Bank. In August 1844 Her Majesty’s Commissioners of Stamps and Taxes ascertained the number of bank notes in circulation at their bank during the 12 week period preceding April 1844 was £29,335.00. approximately  1.25 million pounds in today’s money.

In 1842 Crawshay Bailey had plans drawn up by the surveyor Mr Morris and the Civil Engineers  Hodgkinson & Marsh for a possible construction of a railway from Newport to Nantyglo which would come to Pontypool and then onto Cwmcelyn, Blaina via a series of tunnels driven through the mountains at  Llanhilleth, Varteg to Cwmtillery and through the Mynydd James to Blaina and up to Nantyglo. It was only to be a single track and was deemed to be too expensive.

Sometime in the late 1840s the brothers purchased the Aberaman Iron Works in Glamorganshire and resided there until the mid 1850s. After the death of Joseph in 1858 Crawshay carried on the works at Aberaman but later sold them to the Powell Duffryn Company and he came back to live at Nantyglo and Llanfoist.

In the 1840s Crawshay Bailey was in partnership with William Bailey and Samuel Pegg and had a business at Bankside Southwalk, Surrey as Iron Merchants.

In 1852 Crawshay Bailey was on the Committee of the Dean Forest, Monmouth, Usk and Pontypool Railway Company and was also their Banker.

In 1853 Crawshay Bailey set up and became Chairman of the The Monmouthshire Wagon Company, it constructed and leased Coal Railway Wagons to companies for their personal coal transportation to the docks. Messrs Bailey, Greatrex and Williams were also the bankers for the Company. It was stated that Crawshay Bailey lived in Aberaman House, Glamorganshire at this time.

In 1854 the brothers donated land upon which the Abertillery British School was built.

In 1856 Crawshay Bailey and Thomas Greatrex were bankers to the Newport Steam Towing Company, with the directors being Mr James Brown, Mr John Russell.

In 1858 Crawshay Bailey was a director of the Merthyr and Abergavenny Railway Co. Also he gave notice that he was extending his Nantyglo line and erecting a station at Coalbrookvale.

At some point Crawshay Bailey had a large stake in the railway companies of the United States of America and was a major exporter of rails to the States, he exported them to the USA from the Nantyglo Works via Liverpool and had erected a large depot in connection with the London and North Western Railway near the docks at Liverpool for this purpose. Mr R. W. Kennard (father of Mr T. W. Kennard – Crumlin Viaduct builder) was the Vice Chairman of the South Wales Colliery Company next to Crawshay Bailey who was the Chairman. Mr R. W. Kennard’s son Thomas William Kennard was in the USA at this time laying out the Atlantic and Great Western Railway as the Engineer-in-chief.

Joseph Bailey sadly died in November 1858.

Joseph Bailey’s will was proven in London by Mr John Crawshay Bailey (son); Mr Alexander Young Spearman (son-in-law); and Crawshay Bailey (brother); were the executors. The will was reported to be very long, 222 folios and dated the 21st February 1856. The will was sworn at under £600,000. He bequeathed £500 to the Infirmary  at Brecon; An annuity of £20 to the poor of that parish and £10 to the poor of each of the several parishes and villages adjoining. He made ample provisions for his family and widow and children of his eldest son, also £3000 to Lady Bailey.

In 1864 Crawshay Bailey helped set up the South Wales Colliery Company and was their first Chairman (this company was set up to purchase the Cwmtillery Colliery after Mr John Russell had put it up for sale for the sum of £66,000).

Mr Crawshay Bailey was also the proprietor of the Golynos and Pentwyn Works and was connected with many other companies.

During 1866 there was a commercial crisis which seriously affected Mr Bailey, a friend recalled how Mr Bailey was counselled by other members of the company to shut up the works; to which he replied “No not as long as I live, the poor men shall be kept on”. It was also reported that he always enquired upon the health of the pensioners until the time of his death.

Crawshay was on the board of many different enterprises, including The South Wales Colliery Co, and was a large shareholder in  the old Newport Dock Company and the new Alexandra Docks.

Mrs Bailey sadly died in October 1865, later Crawshay removed to Llanfoist.

In 1872 Crawshay paid for a clock to be placed in the Tower of the Abergavenny Town Hall.

Mr Crawshay Bailey sadly died in Janary 1872 at his residence Llanfoist House, buried in the family vaults at Llanfoist on Tuesday 16th January 1872. His will was released in the following March in which was said to be sworn under £160,000. The trustees and executors were Mr Crawshay Bailey Jnr, (son); Mr William Bailey Partridge, (great nephew); and Mr John Berry Walford. In his will he granted to his nephew Mr John Crawshay Bailey, the son of Joseph, £4,000. He left annuities to his 3 great-nieces, many legacies to other relatives and friends, annuities to his Housekeeper, Butler and Nurse and legacies to his other servants. He left the interest of £15,000 to his daughter Jane, for life and after her decease to her children.

He disposed of his interests in Ironworks at Monmouth and Brecon and his business in Liverpool. All his shares as Ironmaster and Iron Merchant carried on at Nantyglo and Beaufort under the name of J. & C. Bailey and at Liverpool under the name of The Bailey Brothers and Co to his two nephews – Mr William Latham Bailey and Mr Henry Bailey in equal shares. He left the Varteg Iron Works and mines of coal, iron and other minerals to his great nephew Mr William Bailey Partridge (of the Partridge Jones & Co) His estates in the counties of Monmouth, Glamorgan, Carmarthen, Brecknock, Hereford, Surrey, Essex and Middlesex to his son Crawshay Bailey Jnr of Maindiff Court, Abergavenny whom he appointed residuary legatee.

This is on-going as I receive more information I will upload it.

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