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Abernant Iron Co

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Abernant Iron Co

One of three early ironworks in the Cynon valley - the others being Hirwaun, which had the oldest furnace but production had not been continuous, and Aberdare Iron Co between Abernant and Hirwaun.

Produced pig-iron for local and export markets (as did Aberdare). The re-capitalised Hirwaun produced bar iron.

1801 Jeremiah Homfray and James Birch, formerly manager at Penydarren, were recorded as partners at Abernant in April. Later that year the Tappendens, bankers from Kent and London became involved with them when the Aberdare Canal Co contracted them to build a tramroad.

1802 A new partnership agreement was drawn up between Homfray, Birch and 3 Tappendens, who between them owned 50%. The Tappendens invested £40,000.

c.1802 A second furnace was built

1802 Lacking access to a canal to transport their products to the sea, the Tappendens started to build a tramroad to the Neath Canal but this suffered from dispute with Samuel Homfray at the Aberdare Iron Co who blocked its path.

1804 the Neath Canal Company agreed the final route for the tramroad; long-term agreements were made with the Aberdare Iron Company and the Hirwaun Company about use of the tramroad, witnessed by Richard Fothergill

1804 the firm tendered for the supply of iron bridges for Bristol Dock; installed the engine for Bristol dock and one at Bath. Built a steam engine for Hirwaun and advertised themselves as being able to build engines to Richard Trevithick's and Boulton and Watt's plan, or other scheme.

By 1805, Abernant had two furnaces making a total of 80 tons per week

1807 Abernant's third furnace was built

1807 Due to losses from the uneconomic tramroad to the Neath Canal, the partnership was dissolved; Jeremiah Homfray and James Birch withdrew from the partnership; Francis Tappenden took over management of the ironworks; witnessed by Richard Fothergill.

Richard Fothergill's knowledge and ability were utilized by the Tappendens. Fothergill acquired great influence in the management and welfare of the Abernant works. He prepared the way for his son, Rowland Fothergill, to acquire the control and later the proprietorship of the works at Abernant.

1811 The iron bridge at Robertstown bears the name 'Abernant' and the date 1811 (see Robertstown Bridge).

1814 The Tappendens installed a new rolling mill at Newbridge (now Pontypridd) to make bar and plate iron and possibly had other sites there; this may have been a site belonging to the Crawshays at Ynysangharad for making nails.

1814 Abernant Iron Co was declared bankrupt on 17 December, a few days after the Tappenden's Faversham Bank, but continued operating until, at an auction the following year, there were no bids.

The Abernant Works were resurrected after the Tappendens left and continued into the 1860-70s. Rowland Fothergill (1794 - 1871), son of Richard Fothergill, gained control and later the proprietorship of the works and those at Llwydcoed.

1870s As a result of the introduction of the Bessemer process, and owing to coal strikes, Fothergill's companies failed, as did so many others; Llwydcoed and Abernant iron-works closed.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Morgannwg, Vol. 40 1996 The Tappendens and the Abernant Iron Company, 1801-1815 [1]
  • Welsh Biography Online [2]
  • Biography of James Tappenden, ODNB