Aberaman Ironworks

Crawshay Ironworks

Crawshay Ironworks (Picture courtesy of RCTCBC)


It was said that four blast furnaces were to be erected at Aberaman, Aberdare, by the celebrated Mr. Crawshay Bailey, of Nantyglo. Should this prove correct, there is not the least doubt but that his works will be carried on most vigorously, as a more active man and a better master never existed.


It appears that near 100 cottages, &c., are to be built from the town of Aberdare to Aberaman, the site of Mr. C. Bailey’s new works. It is to be hoped that due attention will be paid to regularity and drainage now in the commencement.


Aberaman is a place that has arisen entirely within the last 18 months. Its present population is about 1,200, from the turnpike to Crawshay Bailey, Esq’s new furnaces. But Aberaman is not to be judged according to what it is now, but what it will be 12 months hence when the furnaces are at work.

My information is from Mr Bailey’s agents, as delivered to me today. There will be here, then four furnaces, each furnace requiring 300 men to work it, including colliers, miners, labourers, etc.

This will be 1,200 men in Mr. Crawshay Bailey’s employ. Allowing an average of two children to every workman, or four in a family, we then have at Aberaman alone and supported by Mr Bailey, 4,800. Independent of this there are in this hamlet two collieries, one just opened, the other beginning to work.

The one at work employs 45 men; the other (Mr Powell’s) will be on a larger scale and will employ at least 100 men. They have touched the coal; it will, therefore, soon be at work. These, and Mr Bailey’s, will make Aberaman at the least above 5,000 in two years. To judge of the rapidity of the building here, there were in the hamlet today 80 masons at work and 50 carpenters; there are also several rows of cottages whose foundations have been commenced within the last few weeks. Aberaman is distant from the Parish School, at different points, 1½ miles, 1 mile, and 3/4 mile. It is a long hamlet; could be conveniently accommodated with a school situated somewhere in the center.

At present, I have no authority to say we shall have any here. All will depend on Mr Crawshay Bailey. The number of children that attend the Parish School from this hamlet consists of two boys and two girls. There is a dame-school here, which you saw. The rest of the children go nowhere.


This thriving valley is now becoming a very important place. The numerous collieries which have been opened have turned out most satisfactorily. The quality of the coal being excellent for steam navigation, it consequently commands a remarkably high price and is eagerly sought for that purpose in the London market.

The railway which is eight miles long, and joins the Taff Vale at the Navigation house has just been leased by the latter company, and it not only proves a ready transmission for the coal to Cardiff but also the means of transit of all kinds of goods from Bristol, London, &c.

Crawshay Bailey, Esq., of Nantyglo, was erecting a large ironworks upon his estate at Aberaman, to consist when completed of four or five blast furnaces, and a forge and rolling mill to correspond. The greatest activity now prevails in getting the mill and forge ready, and here it will be completed the capital expended will amount to a large sum. Thomas Powell, Esq., the great coal proprietor, in addition to his other pits, is in the act of sinking a pit on Aberaman-Uchaf


The new forge at Aberaman is, we understand, working most satisfactorily, and the iron rolled at it is very generally praised. When the whole of the intended works at this place shall be finished, it will be one of the neatest and most compact erected works in Wales.

20.10.1860 Aberaman Presentation

The agents and workmen of the Aberaman Iron Works recently presented Mr Thomas Brewer, late, and for ten years, accountant to Crawshay Bailey, Esq., at the above works, with a massive gold watch and appendages. The watch bore the following inscription “Presented to Mr Thomas Brewer by the agents and workmen of Aberaman Iron Works, as a token of their respect, for his valuable services. September 1860.” The party having partaken of a sumptuous supper at the Swan Hotel, which did credit to its host and hostess, the Chairman, Mr Thomas Richards, presented Mr Brewer with the watch. Mr Brewer acknowledged the kindness of his friend’s inappropriate terms, expressing himself much affected by this substantial proof of their regard and satisfaction with his efforts during the time he had been associated with them. After drinking the usual toasts and sentiments the company broke up at a late hour.

27.01.1864 Aberaman, Boiler Explosion

The inquest on the bodies of the unfortunate men who were killed by the late explosion at the Aberaman Works was opened on Friday morning. The jury, which consisted of respectable tradesmen, were addressed by the Coroner, G. Overton, Esq after which they proceeded to view the bodies, in the performance of which duty they met with deeply affecting scenes. The inquiry was then adjourned to Thursday, the 3rd of March.

The funerals of the deceased took place on the following day, the scene, as may be imagined, being of a most mournful and impressive character. In connection with it a sad incident-occurred. Miss Hudson, daughter of Captain Hudson, the mesmeric lecturer, who is now at Aberdare, went to see the funeral procession, which produced such a deep impression on her mind that she went home and was taken ill, and died, to the great sorrow of her father and a numerous circle of friends.

19.02.1864 Aberaman, Boiler Explosion

A fearful calamity fell upon the poor people of Aberaman on Wednesday, by a boiler explosion at the Aberaman Iron Works. The works are I he property of Crawshay Bailey, Esq, M.P. the wealthy ironmaster at Nantyglo, and Beaufort. They are situated at the mouth of a small valley about a mile from the town of Aberdare and furnish employment to almost the entire working population of the village of Aberaman. The works were going on as usual in the afternoon when suddenly the workmen heard a tremendous noise, and those who were far away were horrified on turning their eyes towards the spot to find the whole of the blast engine-house, with the adjacent boiler-shed, enveloped in steam, and rising in the midst of it the forms of two huge boilers (from which a flood of boiling water rained on the poor men below), which were carried away with a velocity terrible to witness over the shed of the puddling furnaces.

One of the monstrous cylinders dropped on an iron roof and crushed it as though it were pasteboard, bringing down about 60 yards of the roof, knocking the puddler’s furnace into one mass of wreck, and involving men, horses, and material in one common ruin. The other flew on its way and fell with an awful crash about a hundred yards from the bed from which it had been burled with such enormous force. The ends of each boiler were blown out, and showers of broken stones and pieces of metal descended everywhere, knocking many people down with fearful effect. The boilers were elevated at least a hundred feet, and in their rise, they knocked the end of the engine-house, a massive building of stone, four storey’s high, in upon the engine, and the roof being deprived of half its support gave way and fell with destructive force upon the splendid engine which was already encumbered with ruins.

The sheds of the puddling furnaces were almost all unroofed of their slabs, and here and there, where some great fragments of the boilers descended, it was marked with large holes. No fewer than nine puddler’s are killed for a certainty, while many are said to be missing, besides a large number of men and boys badly wounded, some with broken legs, and others with what is still more serious, broken skulls. A poor Irishman, named Patrick Castelloe, was working under the boiler at the time, and he was thrown with great violence into a mass of hot ashes, which were immediately, afterwards saturated with boiling water. He was killed instantly, and the body was most frightfully distorted, insomuch that when the remains were dragged out from the smoking debris, they were scarcely recognisable.

The legs were bent in the most horrible forms, and the head was a mere mass of soaked ashes, the mouth, nostrils, and every aperture being Ailed. Thos. Lewis was killed similarly. A man named Evan Meredith was standing at the further end of the puddling shed when the boiler came over, and he was, hurled a height of sixty feet into the air and was dashed to pieces. A little boy named Williams was playing at the farthest point reached by the catastrophe, and a piece of metal fell on his forehead, which was cleft open so completely, as to let the brains run out on the ground.

The engineman has not yet been found, and he is supposed to have been buried among the ruins of the engine-house. At least 20 men and boys have been more or less seriously injured. Among the injured is Mr Geo. Nasmyth, son of the manager of the works, and he is not expected to recover. The excitement here is intense. It is estimated that the damage will amount to more than £10,000.

12.01.1867 Aberaman Ironworks Company Ltd.

On Saturday a meeting of the shareholders in this concern, convened by private circular, was held at the London Tavern, for the purpose, of hearing some facts connected with the promotion of the company, and of taking action upon them. Mr. Pawle occupied the chair.

The Chairman, in opening the proceedings, bitterly complained of a wronged he to himself personally by a person acting in concert with the directors of the company, which is being now wound up in the Court Of Chancery, that they, he had made a catspaw of him in rigging the market, and then left him in the lurch for the price of 150 shares, £10 paid up, which he as a stockbroker had purchased for them. He then entered into a long detail to the effect that the promoters of the company had from the first intended to turn £100,000 into their own pockets, and that the directors had, in issuing their prospectus, made certain unfounded re. presentations; that they had led the public who applied for the shares to believe that they were dealing with Mr Crawshay Bailey, whereas they wet e dealing with the promoters, intervening parties, who, having agreed to purchase the works in question from Mr Crawshay Bailey for £250,000, charged the company £350,000 for the transfer of the property.

Another discrepancy was, with respect to the extent of the property, which was not by any means so large. These misrepresentations were, as in the case of the Landed Estates Company, a sufficient ground why these who had been misled by such statements should apply to the Court of Chancery to have their names removed off the register. Another ground why they should do so was that, as in the case of the Russian Iron Company, there was a material discrepancy between the prospectus and the articles of association.

Mr Lewes thought that, if the list of contributors had not been yet issued, those shareholders who were, until they had heard the chairman’s statement, in ignorance of the trick practiced upon them were still in a position; to have their names removed from the register, notwithstanding the length of time (nearly two years) which had elapsed since the date of the winding-up order, to take proceedings.

Mr Pulsford, who had been acting from the first for) some of the shareholders, quoted several facts, pointing out the subtlety with which the company had been manipulated both at its inception and at its death.

At the close of the proceedings, the thanks of the shareholders were voted to the chairman for the trouble he had taken in making himself acquainted with all the minutiae of the proceedings connected with the debut of the company, and for the skill and ability with which he had placed his information before the public. A committee was also appointed to direct and manage an application to the Court of Chancery to have the names of those present expunged from the register of shareholders, and the proceedings terminated.

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