Photograph courtesy of the Dyffryn Clydach Guide website (link valid 2007).
Press Release from the Neath Port Talbot Council
November 29, 2004
An important piece of Neath's history has been unearthed following excavation work on the site of the old iron works in Neath Abbey.
Part of a blast furnace dating back to the 18th century has been found by Neath Port Talbot Council workmen when a wall, which was originally built to seal off the west face of the blast furnace, needed to be rebuilt.
The furnace is one of two blast furnaces and an engine house to be built by the Fox, Price and Tregelles iron working partnership in 1795 to produce pig iron for use in their Cornish foundry.
The furnaces were built into the side of the valley which allowed raw materials like iron ore, limestone and coke to be prepared at the same level as the top of the furnace and then charged from above, across a charging bridge which spanned over Longford Road.
By 1796, the works had an output of between 75 to 80 tons of iron per week and by 1818 the company expanded to produce machine parts and complete steam engines.
The company became world famous and their customers included the major ironworks, tinworks, copper works, collieries, canal companies and silver and gold mines in Wales and the rest of Britain, France, Spain and South America.
The abbey ironworks was eventually closed in 1885/86.
The furnace is a scheduled monument which required consent from Cadw before any work could be carried out. It is now on show to the public.
Rick Turner, Inspector of Ancient Monuments at Cadw, added, "I would like to congratulate Neath Port Talbot Council on the work they have carried out. What began as an unwelcome collapse of a wall into the public road has now revealed an important part of the great Neath Abbey Ironworks to public view.
"The site is hardly known locally and until plans for its reuse emerge, then the work to reveal the rear of the blast furnace will be a reminder of what survives at the main ironworks site below."