Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,162 pages of information and 233,682 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

British Iron Co

From Graces Guide

Jump to: navigation, search

Iron masters and mineral developers, of Abersychan, Ruabon, Corngreaves and elsewhere

1824 Company formed by John Taylor (1779-1863), mining engineer and entrepreneur, in association with the coppersmith James Henry Shears and Robert Small, a merchant. In the financial climate of the time, there was no lack of willing subscribers to the undertaking. The purpose of the company was to smelt, manufacture and sell iron; to work iron mines; and to purchase ores from other sources as required.

During 1825 the company purchased a number of active ironworks and land on which to build further works. Of these, the principal sites were Abersychan in South Wales, Ruabon in North Wales and Corngreaves near Dudley in England. It also bought the ironworks at Brierley Hill from its previous owner, following his failure. This was located on the banks of the Dudley Canal and produced about 150 tons of iron per week and 10 tons of steel.

1826 Much dissatisfaction among the shareholders at the management of the company. It was claimed that properties had been purchased for sums far in excess of their true value, that mineral leases had been taken on terms that were highly burdensome to the company and that excessive sums had been spent on developing these sites. The situation was exacerbated by a pamphlet by Richard Cort (the son of Henry Cort and cashier of the company until February 1826) which was highly critical of the management.

1826 Meeting of the company in London[1]. Mr Mushett (sic) was a director, Messrs Philip and Edward Taylor played a prominent part in an acrimonious meeting; reference to property in South Wales which was expected to be valuable; reference to a law suit concerning Mr Attwood[2]. Taylor and Shears resigned as directors.

The most serious issue concerned the Corngreaves estate near Dudley in the west Midlands for which the company had paid an excessive price at a time of high iron prices in 1825. Following a collapse in the market, James Henry Shears and his fellow trustees commenced legal action to have the contract revised. The case with appeals lasted from 1826 until 1838; the final result was against the company and led eventually to its collapse.

By 1838 the company had made little profit due to the costs embedded in the agreements to purchase some of the properties and expensive litigation with the owner of the Corngreaves estate which went against the company.

1841 The shareholders decided to dissolve the company once its liabilities had been discharged; in the meantime operations continued as normal.

1843 Assets transferred to the New British Iron Co for £200,000 and the company was finally wound up in 1844.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Jun 10, 1826
  2. The Morning Chronicle, September 8, 1826