Abertillery Tin Works, Station Road, Abertillery.
The Abertillery Tin Works were built in the late 1840’s on the ground that was once occupied by the earlier Iron Works constructed sometime in the 1830’s (where Tescos Supermarket is today). The old iron works was on the land registry maps of 1840 (as seen in another image on the site), six years before the Abertillery Tin Works were erected.
In old reports Mr Richard Walker was the first Iron Master of Abertillery in the 1830’s. He was sending iron down the valley from 1832 to 1838. Mr Richard Walker was from Pontypool, his daughter Miss Harriet Walker married Mr William Webb (Brewer and Maltster of Aberbeeg). Mr Richard Walker was also a magistrate and often attended court at Blaina during this time.
Mr J. Conway and Mr J. Pearce.
In the late 1840’s the Abertillery Tin Works were opened by Mr J. Conway and Mr J. Pearce. Mr Conway was a magistrate and was instrumental in the building of the British School, Abertillery
When the tin works were installed a feeder stream to power the water wheels at the works was constructed. Its course was from a sluice in the River Ebbw close to Spiders Castle (where Harcourt Terrace is today) to the works via the fields (where Glandwr Street is today) across the front of the Station Hotel and down into another sluice at Station approach, the sluice could divert the water back into the River Tillery at this point if the pond was full.
This feeder kept the pond full of water to power the tin works machinery. It’s hard to believe but the sluice for the feeder at Spiders Castle was 36′ feet higher above sea level than the tin works. This height difference maintained a constant forceful flow to the pond. When Glandwr Street was built the feeder was covered over and the houses were built over it.
Above is the extended view of the area showing the feeder route from the (top left) , down through into the pond via a sluice in front of the Station Hotel at the junction with the River Tillery. The overflow is let back into the River Tillery and the waste after production is let back into the River Ebbw as seen (bottom right).
Right is an enlarged view of the sluice in front of the Station Hotel.
In 1850 Mr John Conway announced he was paying his workforce in the coin of the realm and would not entertain the idea of issuing Truck Tokens. In the same year he offered free train fare to his workers to go shopping at Newport or Bristol (employees choice) once a month.
Messrs T. P. & D. Price and J. Pearce.
In 1858 the Abertillery Tin Works were sold to T. P. & D. Price and J. Pearce. (T. P. & D. Price were Messrs Thomas Protheroe Price and David Price) colliery proprietors and the original owners of the Penybont Tillery Colliery, Abertillery).
In 1866 it was announced that the Abertillery Tin Works were producing their own bar-iron.
The Abertillery Tin Plate Co.
In 1869 the Abertillery Tin Works were in the hands of Mr J. Pearce and known as the Abertillery Tin Plate Co. Mr J. Pearce went bankrupt in the same year of 1869.
Mr John Matthews.
In November 1870 the Star of Gwent newspaper reported that Mr John Matthews had rolled iron at a weight of 3cwt hundred-weight without any break or damage to the piece. On the 1871 census Mr Matthews a tin works labourer lived with his wife Sarah? and family at Matthews Houses, Abertillery close to the Golden Lion Inn on what is now Castle Street.
Major Phillip Samuel Phillips.
In 1872 after the bankruptcy of Mr Pearce, the tin works were purchased by Mr P. S. Phillips. Major Phillip Samuel Phillips also owned the Coedcae Tilllery Coal Levels (where upper Arael View is today) and used the coking ovens on site to supply the tin works (the coking ovens were close to where the Rose Heyworth Millennium School is today). Major Phillips was a keen cricket supporter and gave the Abertillery Cricket Club use of his land at Glandwr (called Captains Field) to use as their ground, this ground was later purchased by a housing company to build Glandwr Street.
The Rolling Mills.
In 1876 the tin works had six rolling mills in operation.
In 1893 the tin works had nine rolling mills in operation.
The Glan Ebbw Steel Sheet, Galvanising and Tin Plate Co Ltd.
In 1899 the Abertillery Tin Works were registered as the Glan Ebbw Steel Sheet, Galvanising and Tin Plate Co Ltd. The directors named as Mr C. Saunders, Mr A. Tilney and Mr J. A. Davies.
Mr Arthur Tilney.
In 1900 Mr A. Tilney formed a company to take over control of the works. The works now had ten rolling mills, five sets of cold rolls and fourteen tinning sets. Mr A. Tilney was also a timber merchant, his timber business became one of the biggest in South Wales.
The Abertillery Works Ltd.
In 1914 the Abertillery Tin Works were registered as the Abertillery Works Ltd.
Productivity and Sales.
At one time the Abertillery Tin Works employed four-hundred men and fifty girls. The workforce produced 350,000 tin plate boxes for the home market which included names such as Fry’s, Cadbury and Nestles Co and manufactured tinned plate for dry and wet goods for export around the world such as South Africa, Jamaica, India and New York. Competition from much bigger companies forced the tin works to close.
The Closure of the Abertillery Tin Works.
On Thursday 12th September 1957 it was officially announced that the Abertillery Tin Works were to close. It was stated that the orders received would be completed in October and November, after which the works would close. It was reported that there were 300 men employed at the works.
Messrs Webb’s Brewers of Aberbeeg.
Following discussions on the use of the site post-tin works it was mentioned that Messrs Webb’s Brewers of Aberbeeg was interested in using the area, although the paperwork was going ahead nothing more came of it and the land was later purchased by Warwills Iron Founders, Abertillery.
The Demolition of the Smoke Stacks.
On Saturday 6th June 1959 three of the old tin works smoke stacks were demolished by explosives. The residents complained they had hardly any prior notice and were caught off-guard with the resulting blasts smashing windows at Forge Row and Glan Ebbw Terrace, it was said that only the far end of the rows escaped damage. One woman was bed-ridden and the explosion blew her out of bed and onto the floor.
In 1959 Warwills Foundry moved to the old tin works site, they employed seventy people and expanded in total and expanded their area of works. The foundry behind Church Street became its engineering department while the old tin works site was used to make its castings.
The Story of the Abertillery Foundry – Warwills, Church St, Abertillery.
In 1874 the Abertillery Foundry was opened by Mr John Ward Williams, the foundry was situated on the banks of the River Tylery behind Church Street, Abertillery. Mr John Ward Williams was an old inhabitant of Abertillery, his father was Mr Crawshay Bailey’s manager at the Nantyglo Works. Mr J. Ward Williams lived in Church Street Abertillery, he later lived at Blaenau Gwent and died in 1893, his son Mr Henry Ward Williams took over the business.
In 1925 the Abertillery Iron Foundry closed.
Mr J. H. Cole.
In 1926 the foundry was reopened and was owned by Mr J. H. Cole.
Warwills Foundry and Engineering Works.
In 1927 the foundry was registered as Warwills Foundry and Engineering Works.
In 1940 the government asked Warwills Foundry and Engineering Works to make agricultural machinery and tank parts for the war effort.
In 1959 the foundry employed 70 people and expanded down to the now derelict tin works site at Station Rd. The foundry behind Church Street became its engineering department while the old tin works site was used to make its castings.
In 1987 the Abertillery Foundry was owned by Abertillery Holdings. A new building was erected at the Station Road site to house their engineering dept. Land to the south of the Station Road site was sold to Low Cost Supermarket and the Church Street Foundry was sold.
In 1989 Abertillery Holdings moved its head office to Bristol.
In 1991 the company was registered as Sycamore Holdings.
The Bawn Bros.
In 1992? the Abertillery Foundry was owned by Bawn Bros.
In 1997 the Bawn Bros moved all operations to Aberbeeg and incorporated with Blackwood Engineering. They then sold the Abertillery site to Tesco Supermarket.