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British Industrial History

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David Richard Llewellyn

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Sir David Richard Llewellyn, first baronet (1879–1940), coal owner and financier

1879 Born at Aberdare son of Alderman Rees Llewellyn and his wife, Elizabeth. Together with two other sons, Rees later joined forces with David in a number of coal ventures.

1900 Enrolled in a course for mining engineers at University College, Cardiff

1903 Qualified.

1903-5 Studied mechanical mining in USA

1905 Started the Windber colliery, aiming to work its thin seams with electrically driven cutters.

1905 Married Magdalene Anne Harries (d. 1966); they had four sons and four daughters

1914-16 Acquired four additional collieries, all drift mines, around Aberdare.

Through his Aberdare connection with H. Seymour Berry, who had negotiated the purchase of the Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen Colliery Co for Lord Rhondda, Llewellyn was made chairman of this subsidiary enterprise.

Especially between 1916 and the early 1920s, he was involved in a frenzy of mergers and acquisitions of coal mines. The two young men, Berry and Llewellyn, (assisted by H. H. Merrett) took over a range of companies across the south Wales coalfields. Llewellyn or Berry were frequently designated chairman. The companies they controlled included Bwllfa and Merthyr Dare; D. R. Llewellyn and Sons; Graigola Merthyr Company; Gwaen-Cae-Gurwen; Cambrian Collieries; Celtic Collieries; North's Navigation; D. Davis and Son; and Welsh Navigation.

1919 One of their most spectacular acquisitions was to acquire a controlling interest in John Lysaght Ltd. A few months later the business was sold on to Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds with Llewellyn becoming chairman of GKN's colliery committee.

1920 Registered his company D. R. Llewellyn and Sons Ltd to hold the coal mine interests.

1922 He was created a baronet

1930 Some of the most important of the south Wales coal companies collaborated to form Welsh Associated Collieries Ltd, and Llewellyn as chairman.

1935 this group fused with the Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company Ltd. The resulting group controlled some ninety pits, produced over 20 million tons of coal, and employed over 37,000 people. Llewellyn served as vice-chairman.

If much of this was essentially financial engineering, the more constructive aspect of these amalgamations and rationalizations was seen in the marketing and distribution of the group's coal output. Thus when Llewellyn joined the board of Lord Melchett's Amalgamated Anthracite Co, he secured efficiencies by pooling wagons, centralizing purchases of stores, and introducing uniform systems of accounting.

In much of this Llewellyn's main adviser and associate was H. H. Merrett, who in the early 1930s published a plan for the total co-ordination of selling and transport in the industry.

1940 Died at his brother's house in Penderyn, Brecknockshire

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Biography of Sir David Richard Llewellyn, ODNB