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Glamorgan Archives
Dowlais Iron Company collection

Reference code(s): GB 0214 DG

Held at: Glamorgan Archives

Title: Dowlais Iron Company collection

Short Title: Dowlais Iron Company collection

Creation date(s): 1792-1955

Level of description: Fonds

Extent: 23 cubic metres

Name of creator(s): Dowlais Iron Company; Guest, Keen and Company; Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds and Co. Ltd


Administrative/Biographical history: The Dowlais Iron Company was founded in 1759 when an agreement of co-operation was signed by 9 parties, to build a furnace for the production of iron. In its first year the primitive furnace produced 500 tons of iron. In 1763, another 22 acres of land was leased from Lady Windsor, which enabled the company to build more furnaces, mills, forges and housing for the growing workforce. In 1767 John Guest of Broseley, Shropshire, was appointed manager, and in 1782 he became a partner. By 1851, the Guest family had managed to buy out all the remaining partners until the company was brought under the sole ownership of Josiah John Guest. Under the management of the Guest family the company rapidly expanded in the wake of the railway boom of the 1820s and the 1830s. By 1842 over 5,000 people were employed by the company in 17 blast furnaces. By the end of the nineteenth century, local iron ore reserves were near exhaustion, and iron ore was imported from Spain. The import of raw materials precipatated a move to the coast and a new iron works was built on the East Moors at Cardiff Docks. Meanwhile the original iron works at Dowlais managed to consolidate its position as the most important iron works in south Wales, after it purchased the Penydarren works in 1859 and the Cyfartha works in 1898. In 1901 the end of Dowlais as an independent concern arrived when it became part of Guest, Keen and Company. In 1902, it became part of the Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds and Co. Ltd. The production of steel at Dowlais came to an end in 1930 when the steelworks closed.


Scope and content/abstract: Records of the Dowlais Iron Company including letter books, deeds, plans and drawings and minutes, 1792-1955


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement: Arranged chronologically by series

Conditions governing access: No restrictions

Conditions governing reproduction: Normal Glamorgan Record Office conditions apply

Finding aids: A full version of the catalogue can be searched online at


Accruals: Accruals are not expected

Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition: Deposited by a private body



Archivist's note: Compiled by David Morris for the ANW project. The following source was used for compilation: Glamorgan Record Office finding aids.

Rules or conventions: Description follows Archives Network Wales guidelines based on ISAD(G) second edition; AACR2 and LCSH.

Date(s) of descriptions: December 2006

Iron industry and trade | Wales | Glamorgan
Iron industry and trade | Wales | Merthyr Tydfil

Personal names
Guest , John , 1785-1852 , 1st Baronet

Corporate names
Dowlais Iron Company

Dowlais (Wales)
Merthyr Tydfil (Wales)

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