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Transport, Materials and Networks

National Waterfront Museum

National Waterfront Museum

Over the last three centuries Wales has been host to many world-class inventions and innovations in mining, metal manufacture and transport

In 1800 horseback was the fastest way to travel on land. A century later, most of the world had rail networks and trains travelling up to sixty miles per hour. This transformation in world history was initiated in south Wales with Richard Trevithick’s Steam Locomotive in 1804.

Coal wagons like the one displayed began appearing on the UK rail network in the mid-nineteenth century. The Ocean Coal Company is painted on one side - in its heyday one of the foremost producers of steam coal in south Wales.

By the early 1890s, eighty per cent of the world’s tinplate was produced in Wales. Our Tinplate Rolling Mill is an example of twentieth century automation that transformed a previously labour-intensive industry. At its peak, in the 1920s, it employed over 30,000 in Wales.

These are just a few of the highlights, while interactive workstations allow you to delve deeper into the networks and industries in which these objects played a vital role.