Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 146,747 pages of information and 232,400 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
of Merthyr Tydfil
1876 'IRON CASTING AT MERTHYR. On Tuesday afternoon a party of ladies and gentlemen were invited to visit the foundry of it Mr J. P. Biddle, Merthyr, for the purpose of seeing a large casting made, being the last of eight segments forming the cap of a chimney stack. Some three weeks ago Mr. Biddle received an order to make an ornamental cap for the large chimney at Harris's Navigation Colliery. The sizes were given as follow:- Height, 8 feet in the perpendieular, diameter at the top and base l2ft. 2in., with a bulge in the middle extending the width at that part to l4ft. 6in. The whole weight of this mass of iron was to be about five tons, this being considered necessary for the chimney stack, which is 36 ft. diameter at the bottom, and extends l80ft. in height, and is one of the largest in South Wales. A number of difficulties lay in the way of fulfilling the contract. In the first place, the segments, eight in number, as before stated, had to be made comparatively thin for the size, and the shape thereof having a considerable bulge in the middle, besides the circular bend, made casting difficult. However, Mr. Biddle set to work in earnest, and had patterns and boxes made as quickly as possible. The first attempt to cast a segment, of course, proved a failure, but nothing daunted he tried again, and at last proved successful. Of course, from that moment the turning out of the other seven pieces was as simple as possible, and the last was done on Tuesday.
A little after four o'clock a cupola was tappped, and a rush of liquid metal came into the ladle, which was calculated to bold a ton. When this was filled, and the scum taken off, four stalwart men worked away at the crane, and the liquid iron was gradually swung round, but it came over the box-like mould, which was pierced with seven holes. Amid a flutter of excitement the first drops fell, and went out of sight, and all went well, accompanied with the usual startling bang from the escaping air. The process, which was highly successful in every sense, was witnessed by Dr. Davies, Mr. Thomas (ironmonger), Mr. Snelling, Mr. J. W. Gunn, Mr. H. W. Southey, and one or two ladies, and this concluded one of the largest contracts of iron- founding undertaken in Merthyr.
Mr. Biddle's works, although not very large in extent, are singularly complete, comprising every departent necessary for a smith and moulder. The extraordinary short space of time in which he did the work above-mentioned, will be sufficient proof of this, and it is satisfactory to be able to state that the company's inspector visited the work on Monday and expressed his approval of the same. There are 36 hands employed at this concern; the melting cupola is of the ordinary make used by founders, it being 2-feet diameter, and able to reduce 30 cwt. of iron at one blast. The engine which drives the fan also supplies the rest of the shop with power, and is of 2-horse capacity; there are no less than 10 forges, and all seemed hard at work on Tuesday last, thus proving that, although times are bad, iron working and founding at any rate at Mr. Biddle's is not lacking. Altogether the piece of work just referred to is considered a grand proof of what can be done in Merthyr ... apart from the large works of course ... and the proprietor of the establishment is justly proud of the way in which he has been able to fulfil the contract.'
1879 Advertisement. 'To Jeremiah Thomas. I, JOSEPH PARSONS BIDDLE, of Merthyr Tydfil, in the County of Glamorgan, Iron Founder, do hereby admit and acknowledge that I have infringed upon your Patent, fur the construction of a Small Coal Weighing Machine, technically known as "Billy Fair Play;" and hereby express my regret and apologise to vou for so doing, and also consent and agree that you are at liberty to publish this apoiogy in such a manner, in such papers, and for such period as you may think proper.'
Joseph Parsons Biddle died on 21 October 1892, and the works was advertised for sale.