Historic Landscape Characterisation
Merthyr Tydfil

010 Ynys Fach Iron Works Area

HLCA 010 Ynys Fach Iron Works Area Industrial remains: ironworks, area partly taken by Technical College; historic, technological, and artistic associations.

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(Photo: GGAT Merthyr 010)

Ynys Fach Iron Works Area character area: early ironworks with surviving remains.


This area originated in the establishment in the second half of the 18th century of a foundry, the Ynys Fach Iron Works, to cast cannon and cannonballs for the American War of Independence, but later served as an ancillary to the Cyfartha Iron Works. The site retains the remains of four Blast Furnaces and the Engine House.

Historical background

The initial development within the historic landscape area of Ynys Fach Iron Works Area emerged as direct result of the American War of Independence (1776-1783), when a foundry was established to cast cannon and cannonballs. Francis Homfray leased the foundry in 1782 to cast cannon from pig iron supplied by the nearby Cyfarthfa Furnace, but was soon after succeeded by Richard Crawshay of Normanton, Yorkshire, who later gained control of the Cyfarthfa Works themselves. The Ynys Fach Iron Works opened as an extension to Crawshay's Cyfarthfa works in 1801 and despite being the second in the area to employ steam-blowing engines, after Dowlais, it generally played a secondary role to Cyfarthfa. When steel production started at neighbouring Cyfarthfa in 1884, the four blast furnaces at Ynys Fach were relined and kept in reserve, in case of a renewed demand for iron. It is however thought unlikely that the furnaces were ever put back in blast.


For further information please contact the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust at this address. Link to the Countryside Council for Wales website at www.ccw.gov.uk or Cadw at www.cadw.wales.gov.uk