Neath Abbey Ironworks Records

 

The records of the Neath Abbey Ironworks are held at the West Glamorgan Archive Service in Swansea, Wales. The location is on Swansea Bay between the Maritime Quarter and Swansea University. The address is:

 

West Glamorgan Archive Service, 


Civic Centre, Oystermouth Road, 


Swansea SA1 3SN


Phone 01792 636589

See: http://www.swansea.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=44455

 

 

 

The following is a description of the records as taken from the Archive Collections web site (http://www.swansea.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=56785)

 

            A rare collection of eighteenth and nineteenth century engineering drawings from South Wales has been purchased by the West Glamorgan Archive Service through generous grants from the PRISM Fund and the Friends of the National Libraries.

 

            The Neath Abbey Ironworks collection had been held on deposit at the West Glamorgan Archives in Swansea for over two decades but the owner had in the last few months indicated his wish to sell the collection and gave West Glamorgan Archive Service first refusal before offering it on the open market.

 

            The foundry at Neath Abbey in South Wales was built in 1792 and leased to the Quaker firm of Fox and Company from Falmouth in Cornwall. It continued in business with a variety of different partners until 1875 and then, after an attempted revival, closed for the last time around 1885.


            The ironworks' period of operation coincided with the invention of railways and steamships, the opening up of the South Wales coalfield and the growth of industry throughout the UK. It was also a time when the area of Swansea and Neath was a world centre for metallurgy. It produced a variety of products, including railway locomotives, engines for ships, machinery for gas works and pumping and winding engines for mines.

 

            The archive collection just acquired consists of over 8,000 engineering drawings which were produced as working drawings from which the commissioned machinery was made. They include plans of locomotive and railway engineering plans dating from 1826-1892; ship and marine engineering plans, 1817-1883; gas installations, 1820-1874; and general plans of machinery, 1792-1882. 



            Kim Collis, West Glamorgan County Archivist, said, "This collection is of high importance because it is a rare survival from across a large time period of the industrial revolution. Neath Abbey Ironworks produced machinery for a geographically wide client base and while much of the trade was local to South Wales orders came in not only from the rest of the United Kingdom but also for mining operations in Mexico and South America, reflecting the growth of British entrepreneurship in the western hemisphere.


            "The plans themselves are detailed and finely drawn. The level of care taken in their execution reflects high standards of workmanship for which the foundry had a reputation. The variety of machinery produced is directly reflected in the plans, and the collection is therefore an invaluable resource to anyone interested in the history of techniques of manufacture and mining and of transport and industry."

 

 

 

Further descriptions of the records taken from

http://www3.swansea.gov.uk/CalmView/Record.aspx?src=CalmView.Catalog&id=DD+NAI&pos=6

are as follows:

 

 

Reference No.  D/D NAI

 

The foundry at Neath Abbey in South Wales was built in 1792 and leased to the Quaker firm of Fox and Company from Falmouth in Cornwall. It continued in business with a variety of different partners until 1875 and then, after an attempted revival, closed for the last time around 1885. The ironworks' period of operation coincided with the invention of railways and steamships, the opening up of the South Wales coalfield and the growth of industry throughout the UK. It was also a time when the area of Swansea and Neath was a world centre for metallurgy. It produced a variety of products, including railway locomotives, engines for ships, machinery for gas works and pumping and winding engines for mines.

 

Administrative records of the Neath Abbey Ironworks (D/D NAI)

 

Plans of gas installations and work for gas contracts, 1820-1874 (D/D NAI/G)

 

Locomotive and railway engineering plans, 1826-1892 (D/D NAI/L)

 

Plans of machinery, 1792-1882 (D/D NAI/M)

 

Ship and marine engineering plans, 1817-1883 (D/D NAI/S)

 

Plans of the Neath Abbey Iron Works, 1813-1881, including ground plans, plans of buildings, inventories of stock, plans of engines and machinery for the furnaces, boring mill, fitting shop, rolling mill, wharf, Cheadle Works and Neath Abbey Gas Works (D/D NAI/W)

 

 

 

It appears that the records are almost exclusively plans.  As noted previously, if the engineer or draftsman that drew up the plans were to have signed the drawing, locating those produced by Hopkin Thomas would be a significant find. However, based on the reproductions contained in Prof. Ince’s history, that custom does not appear to have been followed at the Ironworks.

 

 

Return to the Neath Abbey Ironworks page.

 

About the Hopkin Thomas Project.

 

Rev. July 2014