Neath Abbey Ironworks
Vale of Neath
Neath Abbey Ironworks, an Industrial Revolution powerhouse, changed our lives forever.
It has three scheduled monuments, with two of the best and biggest surviving eighteenth century blast furnaces. It’s world-beating engineers constructed beam engines, locomotives, Town gas plants, marine engines, iron steam and sailing ships; it is ‘a cradle of iron shipbuilding’ and was the first place in Wales to be lit by gas.
Its plans are registered on the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme, and provided steam power for many major works in Wales and Great Britain, whilst exporting globally. It helped to make Wales the first industrialised nation.
It has links to James Watt, William Murdoch, Richard Trevithick, the Stephenson’s, Alfred Russel Wallace amongst others. JT Price, one of the ironmasters, founded the Peace Society in 1816 in London, becoming its first president. The Prices were famous early abolitionists, and they built the local school. The Ironworks trained many famous engineers such as Sir Benjamin Baker, designer of the Forth Bridge, and David Thomas, father of the American iron industry.
There are information panels on site explaining its heritage and natural history, and nature trails extend from the site into Cwmfelin leading to a beautiful waterfall.