Research resources: Welsh Metal Industry

Interested in iron, steel, tinplate, non-ferrous smelting or metal mining history?

The vast majority of enquiries that we receive fall into three main categories: –

  1. Requests for information about the history of individual iron, steel, tinplate and non-ferrous smelting works, and copper, iron, lead, zinc, silver and gold mines, and the companies that owned them.
  2. Requests for information on plant and processes, such as blast furnaces, puddling of wrought iron, Bessemer converters, processing of lead ore.
  3. Requests for information on the employment records of ancestors.

Whilst the larger ironworks, steel works and metal mines and companies have had histories published, there is no single source where the history of most of the smaller ironworks, steelworks and metal mines and companies, or most of the tinplate and non-ferrous smelting works and companies can be studied. Information on these smaller works, mines and companies is scattered through general histories of the industries, local histories, and archival sources. We can advise on what sources exist and where they are located.

Many books have been published in the last 150 years which describe metalliferous plant and processes, ranging from highly technical to very accessible. We can advise which would best answer your needs.

Our photographic collection contains images of many Welsh metalliferous works and processes, and also a good selection of metal mines. Large works and mines are better covered than smaller works and mines, and the collection is much richer in images of the iron, steel and tinplate industries than the non-ferrous smelting industries.    

Our library holds a good selection of books on nineteenth and twentieth century British metalliferous history, with particular emphasis on the metalliferous heritage of Wales.

Researching metalliferous ancestors is not as straightforward! The museum does not possess any employment records – what few survive from before the Second World War are held in other repositories, which are listed below. Post Second World War employment records are held by surviving companies and because of their confidential nature are not available to family historians.

If you wish to consult any of the above, please contact Robert Protheroe Jones on (029) 2057 3630,

Here are some of the most important repositories for metalliferous researchers:

1) Welsh county record offices and other registered archives

Welsh county record offices and other registered archives are the best starting point as they house most surviving works, company and employment records. Works, and particularly mine histories, can also be traced through the records of the estates upon which they lay; these are mainly held by county record offices. They also house copies of the census returns from 1841 to 1901 which are invaluable for tracing metalliferous ancestors as well as a wide range of other important sources for family history: 

Anglesey County Record Office,
Ynys Môn,
LL77 7TW.
Tel 01248 752562
Department of Manuscripts
University of Wales Main Library
Ffordd y Coleg
Gwynedd LL57 2DG
Tel 01248 382966
Caernarfon Record Office,
Gwynedd Archives & Museum Service County Offices,
LL55 1SH.
Tel 01286 679088/679095
Fax 01286 679637
Carmarthenshire Archive Service,
Parc Myrddin,
Richmond Terrace,
Carmarthen, SA31 1DS.
Tel 01267 228232
Fax 01267 228237
Ceredigion Archives,
County Offices,
Marine Terrace,
SY23 2DE.
Tel 01970 633697/8
Conwy Archives Service
Old Board School
Lloyd Street
Conwy, LL30 2YG
Tel 01492 860882
Denbighshire Record Office,
46, Clwyd Street,
LL15 1HP.
Tel 01824 708250
Fax 01824 708258
Flintshire Record Office,
The Old Rectory,
CH5 3NR.
Tel 01244 532364
Fax 01244 538344
Glamorgan Record Office,
Clos Parc Morganneg,
Cardiff, CF11 8AW.
Tel 02920 872200
Gwent Record Office,
County Hall,
NP44 2XH.
Tel 01633 644886
Fax 01633 648382
Meirionnydd Archives,
Cae Penarlag
Gwynedd, LL40 2YB
Tel 01341 424443
Fax 01341 424505
National Library of Wales
SY23 3BU
Tel 01970 632800
Fax 01970 615709
Pembrokeshire Record Office,
The Castle,
SA61 2EF.
Tel 01437 763707
Fax 01437 768539
Powys County Archives Office
County Hall,
Llandrindod Wells, LD1 5LG.
Tel 01597 826088
Fax 01597 826872

Library & Information Services

University of Wales Swansea
Singleton Park
Tel 01792 295021
West Glamorgan Archive Service,
County Hall,
Oystermouth Road,
Swansea, SA1 3SN.
Tel 01792 636589
The A.N.Palmer Centre for Local Studies & Archives,
Wrexham Museum,
Regent Street,
LL11 1RB.
Tel 01978 317973

2) Registration records of limited companies

Those for live limited companies are held by Companies House; surviving registration records of dead limited companies are held by the National Archives:

Companies House
Crown Way
Cardiff, CF14 3UZ
Tel 0870 333 3636
National Archives
Tel 020 8876 3444

3) Information on the industrial archaeology of works and mine sites

Information on the industrial archaeology of works and mine sites is held by the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments in Wales and by county archaeological trusts. Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments is responsible for the scheduling and listing of ancient monuments and sites:

Cadw: Welsh Historic Monuments, 
Plas Carew
Unit 5/7 Cefn Coed
Parc Nantgarw
CF15 7QQ
Tel  01443 33 6000
Fax  01443 33 6001
Cambria Archaeology,
[covers Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire
and Pembrokeshire]

The Shire Hall,
Carmarthen Street,
Carmarthenshire, SA19 6AF.
Tel 01558 823131
Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust,
7a Church Street,
SY21 7DL.
Tel 01938 553670
Fax 01938 552179
Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust,
Heathfield House,
SA1 6EL.
Tel 01792 655208
Fax 01792 474469
Gwynedd Archaeological Trust,
Craig Beuno,
Garth Road,
Gwynedd, LL57 2RT.
Tel 01248 352535
Royal Commission on the Ancient &
Historical Monuments of Wales,

Plas Crug,
Ceregigion, SY23 1NJ
Tel 01970 621200
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