The Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust Ltd.

Character Areas

Clydach Gorge

001 Maesygwartha and Llanelly Iron Working Area

Industrial landscape with linear ribbon settlement.

HLCA 001 Maesygwartha and Llanelly Iron Working Area

Early post-medieval industrial landscape associated with the Hanbury family of Pontypool: furnace and forge sites of 17th century date; metal processing - Tinworks site; early iron workers' housing and associated 17th century gentry house; early industrial transport links; important historic associations; industrial water supply.Back to Map

Historic Background

The historic landscape area of Maesygwartha and Llanelly Iron Working Area is located between the Clydach Railroad of 1794, to the north, and the course of the Llam-march Tramroad of 1809 to the south. The area contains at its core the early post-medieval industrial sites of Llanelly Furnace (SAM BR160 (MON)) and Llanelly Forge established in the 17th century by the Hanbury family of Pontypool, and operated from 1797 by the Clydach Ironworks Co. who leased it from Capel Hanbury Leigh. The location of the iron blast furnace was dictated by the availability of wood to make charcoal and of a water supply (by leat from the Clydach to the waterwheel) to power the bellows for the furnace. The remains of some early calcining kilns survive in the vicinity. Pig iron from the furnace was re-worked to produce wrought iron at the nearby forge. LlanelIy Furnace, being charcoal-fired, was eventually superseded for the primary iron-making process by the coke-fired Clydach Ironworks (HLCA 003) across the river, established in the early 1790s. In 1841 the forge was still thriving; but by 1878 the works (LIanelIy Lower Forge) was up for sale with the Clydach Bar Ironworks.

Historic Landscape Characteristics

Maesygwartha and Llanelly Iron Working Area plays an important role in setting the scene for the later expansion of the iron industry in the area being the site of the earliest iron furnace and forge in the valley and the location of some of the earlier surviving workers' housing.

The sites of the Llanelly Furnace (SAM: BR160(MON)) and Forge, along with the remains of the dam which retained a large pond that provided power for the forge, and the associated Clydach House, a fine Listed 17th century gentry house, where Francis Lewis, the 'Clerk to the Furnace' lived, form a characteristic group. Clydach House has an impressive contemporary central open-well stair with twisted balusters. The building is a symmetrical, double-pile, white-rendered house with the date 1693 on an armorial panel over the front door. The house retains original timber mullion-and-transom casement windows at the back and early 19th century alterations.

The area is otherwise characterised by altered industrial workers' housing including cottages, and short rows at Maesygwartha and at Forge Row, the latter described in 1813 as 'Twenty Workmen's Houses, situate on the Rail-way leading from the Furnace to the Canal, about Half a Mile from each.' These represent a rare survival of workers' housing, albeit in an altered state, contemporary with both the Llanelly charcoal furnace (those with steeper pitched roofs), and the later coke-fired Clydach Ironworks, ie the long row.

Modern housing development on the edge of the area is in the process of altering the character of the area.

The area also has the site of an early 19th century Tinworks (at Forge House), a separate venture from the forge and furnace, operated as the Llanelly Iron & Tinplate Co during the 1870s and later the Llanelly Tinplate Co. before closure in 1884.

The area is by the route of the Clydach Railroad of 1794, and the Llam-march Tramroad of 1809, the latter built to connect the Clydach Ironworks with the Canal at Gilwern.