Blaenavon: from Iron Town to World Heritage Site


Jeremy Knight

SKU: 9781910839010 Category: Tags: , , ,


Blaenavon was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999 as ‘an outstanding and remarkably complete example of a 19th-century industrial landscape’, with blast furnaces, coal and iron ore mines, quarries, railways and the houses of workers, dating from a time when South Wales was the world’s largest producer of iron and coal.

In this book, Jeremy Knight, a former Inspector of Ancient Monuments with Cadw, sets out the history of ironmaking in the area from medieval times onwards. A greatly increased demand for steel in the 18th century led to radical change in the industry. Single blast furnaces fuelled with charcoal, with the blast blown by water wheels, were replaced by batteries of coke-fired furnaces, blown by steam engines, whilst a supporting infrastructure of canals and railways was laid down. Blaenavon ironworks is a unique survivor of the first generation of this new industry.

Blaenavon also played a significant role in creating the modern world when two cousins, Sidney Gilchrist Thomas and Percy Carlyle Gilchrist, by their experiments at Blaenavon created the Basic Bessemer process, opening the way for the bulk steel industries of America and Germany to develop. The society created at Blaenavon, with its benefit societies, bands and choirs, religious life, truck shop and plethora of pubs and chapels, is described, using a rich collection of source material. The struggle for fair wages and better living conditions, the role of women in society and the experiences of Blaenavon in two World Wars is not forgotten.

Paperback | 208 pages | 242 x 171 mm | 2016
Over 60 colour and 30 b&w illustrations
ISBN 978-1-910839-01-0


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