Kidwelly Tinplate Works

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Memorandum and articles of association 1904; general meetings minute book 1904-1938; minutes of directors' meetings 1918; directors' report 1923; list of other directorates held by the directors of the Kidwelly Works circa 1927; annual returns of shareholders and summaries of share-capital 1911-1939; debenture deed: Kidwelly Tinplate Company to Lloyds Bank 1921; particulars of mill yields 1940-1941; ledgers 1920-1939; annual statement of accounts and balance sheets 1905-1938; correspondence from Samuel Taylor, accountant 1905-1908; account book: analysis of expenditure 1930-1939; cost sheets 1938-1939; particulars of wage and salary costs 1937-1939; wages analysis sheets 1942-1944; stock files 1940-1946; correspondence regarding income tax assessments 1909; miscellaneous correspondence 1935-1947.

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1737 what came to be known as the Lower Works at Kidwelly [Cedweli] was founded by Charles Gwynn. He built the tin works on an area of land known as Bank Broadford on the eastern bank of the River Gwendraeth Fach, 1 km north of the town of Kidwelly. The works were operational as early as 1738. Gwynn took into partnership Anthony Rogers who held a lease on a nearby iron forge. Rogers later bought Gwynn out. Rogers' son Lewis later obtained the works and in 1758 entered into a partnership with Robert Morgan, a Carmarthen ironmaster. Lewis Rogers died in 1776 and some years later the works were sold to Leonard Bilson Gwynn.

In 1801 the partnership Haselwood, Hathaway and Perkins bought the Lower Works but the works were taken over in 1808 by a former trustee Thomas Waters. The works were later sublet and in 1816 the renewal of the lease was granted to Philip Protheroe. Some time after 1829 Thomas Hay a civil engineer became tenant of the works, remaining there until 1838.

From 1838 onwards the tenancy was held by two brothers, Hugh H. Downham (manager) and Henry Ridout Downham. In 1840 the brothers formed the Kidwelly Iron and Tin Plate Company and the works expanded into iron-making. The works were offered for sale in 1846 but Hugh Downham returned to trade for several years as Downham and Briggs after obtaining William Briggs as a partner.

In 1860 the works were bought by Jacob Chivers and he enlarged the works considerably. The works under him later operated under the name Gwendraeth Iron and Tinplate Works. In 1877 Jacob's son Thomas took over the works. He built the Upper Works on a site upstream from the original Lower Works. However by the late 1880s and 1890s the works were in decline and in 1887 Thomas Chivers, heavily in debt, closed the works and put them up for sale.

In 1889 the Gwendraeth Tinplate Company was formed, with Thomas Chivers remaining as one of the company directors and production was resumed. However recession during this period led to the closure of many works, including Kidwelly in 1896.

In 1899 the site was obtained by the Kidwelly Iron Sheet and Tinplate Company Limited but production only resumed at the Upper Works. The Lower Works were later dismantled. In 1901 the company went into voluntary liquidation. In 1904 the Kidwelly Tinplate Company Limited was registered and took over the works. In 1939 the works were acquired by the Llanelly Associated Tinplate Companies Limited. The works were later used for storage purposes and finally dismantled in 1946. The site was offered for sale in 1947 and at present forms the heart of an industrial museum.

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Geographical Names