Evidence: The sale of Hirwaun ironworks 1813

This document is a remarkable survival. There was nothing particularly significant about the ironworks going bankrupt, that sort of thing happened all the time. What is useful is that the sale catalogue gives us an idea of what actually existed in 1813.
The bill tells us that there were at least 116 workers houses in the vicinity of the works. The two blast furnaces had large casting houses and the furnaces were fed by a large Boulton and Watt blast engine. The forge seems to be a very large concern with 10 puddling furnaces. The rolling mill was powered by a Trevithick steam engine and was rated as capable of rolling 80 -100 tons of iron per week. When this works was working at full capacity it must have employed over 1000 people.

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SHW's Book of the Month:

Salt by Mark Kurlansky

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This is not a local history book and Mark Kurlansky is a journalist not a local historian. Nevertheless he has produced a fascinating history of one of the world's basic commodities. I first came across Kurlansky with his book about the history of Cod. I think anyone who wants to know about the history of the Bristol Channel has to be familiar with the fish and how it encouraged Bristol fishermen to discover the Grand Banks. Salt is another offbeat yet fundamental bit of our history. We've had a popular web page on salt for ages and Swansea had a Salthouse Point at the mouth of the River Tawe for centuries. Kurlansky takes you on a journey across space and time to discover the importance of salt for mankind. From Jericho to Gandhi, salt has had an important part to play. This is a lovely book that enhances the quality of history for it adds depth and value to something we use every day. (Nigel Robins)

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