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British Industrial History

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Llanelly Copper Works Co

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of Llanelli

See also Nevill, Druce and Co.

The history of the company, and its interaction with neighbouring businesses, is comprehensively examined by R.Protheroe Jones in a chapter of 'The Industrial and Maritime History of Llanelli and Burry Port 1750 to 2000'[1]. The following information is condensed from that source.

Charles Nevill (1753-1813), a shareholder in the Birmingham Mining and Copper Co had moved to Swansea c.1794 to manage the copper smelting works purchased from Alexander Raby in 1791. Nevill saw the potential for development of copper smelting industry at Llanelli, a nearby small coastal town on a proven but undeveloped coalfield, and he established the Llanelly Copper Works.

The Company's first partnership comprised Ralph Allen Daniell, a merchant and banker involved in Cornwall's mining industry, William Savill, a London copper merchant, John Guest, a Birmingham merchant, and Charles Nevill. The Llanelly Copper Works Company benefited considerably from the Cornish mining connections of Daniell, the smelting and managerial abilities of Nevill, and the commercial connections of Savill and Guest in London and Birmingham respectively, which were primary destinations for copper smelted in south Wales.

Charles Nevill's son Richard Janion Nevill (1785-1856) succeeded his father as manager in 1813 and was the managing partner from 1819. From the 1810s until his death in 1856 he developed the company’s collieries until they accounted for around half the output of the region; he enlarged the Llanelly Copper Works making it the joint third largest in the world, and expanded the company's activities into lead smelting. He had interests in banking, shipowning, the timber trade, and land and mineral ownership. In 1835 he moved from the company’s agent's house adjacent to the works at Glanmor to the mansion at Llangennech Park.

Charles William Nevill (1815-1888), R.J.Nevill's eldest son, succeeded his father as managing partner of the Llanelly Copper Works Company.

In 1823 Alexander Druce was admitted to the partnership to introduce an additional £10,000 of capital.

By 1823 the Llanelly Copper Works Company had acquired a rolling mill at Esher in Surrey, and started a rolling mill at Llanelly Copper Works in 1829. The mill at Esher was retained until 1838.

1833 Brass production commenced at Llanelli.

In 1837 the firm formed a partnership with John Bibby and Co, who acted as their agents in Liverpool, under the name the Liverpool Rolling Mill Company to operate a copper rolling mill at Seacombe.

In 1841 they formed a similar partnership with John Bibby and Sons to work the Ravenhead Copper Works near St.Helens, operating as the Ravenhead Copper Company.

By 1846 a silver works existed within the Llanelly Copper Works, exploiting the silver-rich imported copper ores from South America.

In 1860 the Company started a rolling mill for 'yellow metal' (including Muntz metal).

From 1873 the business was known as Nevill, Druce and Co.

In 1894 the smelting of copper ore ceased at Llanelly Copper Works, and the Llanelly Lead Works closed in 1896. The Llanelly Copper Works' production was then limited to small scale copper refining and copper manufacture, particularly the rolling of copper and yellow metal sheets.

In the early 19th century investment was made to re-equip the Company's hammer mill, including the provision of new steam hammers in 1912. However, this mill, together with the other hot mills closed in 1925. Copper refining also ended between 1920 and 1925. Wire drawing was introduced, and continues at the site, under the ownership of Draka Holding NV.

Members of the Nevill family continued to be involved until 1973,


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 'The Industrial and Maritime History of Llanelli and Burry Port 1750 to 2000' by R. S. Craig, R. Protheroe Jones & M. V. Symons, Carmarthenshire County Council: Llanelli, 2002, ISBN 0906 821 584