Obrázky stránek

mated in round numbers at about 100 feet; and if this in any other iron district; and presents a strange co!!were the average throughout the whole 1,400 square pound of dirt, heat, grandeur, and power. The operamiles, it would give about 20,000,000 tons of coals per tions are not easily forgotten, when once seen ; especially annum for the next 2,000 years !

If this be even a is a night visit memorable, when the dark sky seems to mere approach to the truth, we are relieved from any be inflamed by the lights from so many furnaces, immediate anxiety in respect to food for our fireplaces and when the huge tips of slag-heaps loom out so and furnaces. We are not aware whether any estimate fitfully as the red and yellow light is thrown upon has been made of the quantity of iron-stone in the them. South Wales district; but in various spots it has been

The smelting of iron requires two preparatory found that about 100 inches of thickness occurs in operations-bestowed upon the coal and the iron-stone. 100 yards of depth; and it is known that the average The iron-stone cannot be melted or reduced without the ore or iron-stone, when washed before being calcined, heat from coal ; and when melted, it cannot be made contains about thirty-five per cent. of iron.

to yield up its iron without the addition of lime, Such are the materials on which the colliers and which acts chemically as a flux. The coal must the miners are employed ; and those employments re- be converted into coke ; for the sulphur and other subsemble, in their chief features, the analogous labours stances contained in coal would disenable it from acting elsewhere. The swarthy colliers dig the coal, bring it properly in the smelting process. The coking may be up to the surface, and deposit it in the canal-barges or effected in either of two ways: by the use of kilns, railway-trucks, which are so numerous in South Wales. or by building up heaps in the open air, and then These barges and trucks bring the coal to Newport, to firing them. One ton of coals will produce from Cardiff, to Porthcawl, to Port Talbot, to Neath, to seven to eleven hundred weights of coke, according to Swansea, to Loughor, or to Llanelly; and at those the quality ; and the process requires a period of ports shipped for England, for Ireland, or for foreign twelve or fourteen days. countries. The immense quantity of coal used in the The iron-stone is so hard, and its component ingreiron smelting-works is generally procured in or near dients are so bound up together, that it is not fitted the same pits which yield the iron-ore.

for the smelting process until it has been roasted. The In respect to the iron-mining and working, however, smelter breaks down the power of his materials, before the operations are much more extensive. Coal, when he finally moulds them to his purposes : he divides in once raised, undergoes no manufacture : it is used in order that he may conquer. The iron-stone, besides its natural state. Not so iron ore, or iron-stone. | iron, stone, and hard clay, contains sulphur, arsenic, This is a combination of iron with numerous earthy manganese, and other substances; and these must be substances; the iron is of no practical use until these expelled before the ore is fitted to be thrown into the earthy accompaniments have been removed; and this furnace. This is the purpose of the roasting process. removal cannot be effected without the aid of fierce The ore is broken into small pieces, and stratified heat and many complicated operations. Hence the with small or refuse pit-coal until a large heap is smelting of iron occupies more time, attention, labour, formed; the heap is set on fire, either in the open air and capital than the mere raising it from the hidden or in a kiln; and by the time the coal has all burned depths where it has been buried. In the mining away, the arsenic and other matters will have become operations, a horizontal gallery or tunnel is cut in the volatilized and dissipated, and the ore will consist only side of a hill, or a perpendicular shaft.is sunk, accord- of earthy matters and oxide of iron. To remove these ing to the position in which the iron-stone is supposed earths and the oxygen of the oxide is the object of to lie ; and when this preparatory working has laid smelting; and both coal and limestone are necessary bare the object of search, the pick and the shovel com- to this. It is not always that lime is the flux emmence their operations; and the dirt-coloured stony ployed ; sometimes clay is substituted. There must substance is loosened, shovelled into baskets, and always be both to ensure the proper smelting. If the raised to the mouth of the mine. So bulky is this ore is argillaceous or clayey, lime must be added ; material, and of so small money value per ton, that the if it be calcareous or chalky, clay must be added. The smelters generally contrive to have the smelting-works coal takes up the oxygen of the oxide, and dissipates : as near as possible to the mine, in order to save the the lime and the clay unite, and form an earthy expense of carriage ; and as the same reasoning refuse; and the iron is separated in its metallic state. applies to the coal so largely employed in smelting, Such is the philosophy of iron-smelting, compressed and to the lime which also takes part in that operation, into a few words. we see a reason why the great works of South Wales We now visit the furnaces. Or rather, it will be combine mining and manufacturing operations on so better to wait till the mighty operations at Dowlais come gigantic a scale.

under notice ; and we will therefore here merely supWe shall shortly have to describe some of those pose the iron-stone, the lime, and the coke to have notable establishments ; but we may here follow the been exposed to an intense heat, and the iron to have manufacturing history of a piece of iron, from the state flowed out in the form of crude pig-metal. Although the of a piece of crude ore, to that of a bar or a casting. This grandest operations are those connected with the blast history is much the same, whether in South Wales or furnaces, the subsequent processes by which the iron is brought to a finished form, occupy much more space, | balling furnaces (a very unmeaning name, by the way). require much more buildings and apparatus, and em- The puddled bars, while yet hot, are cut into pieces ploy a much larger number of men. The crude iron about two feet long; and when these pieces have requires to be refined, before it is fit for anything. This cooled, they are built up in piles, several in height, refining consists in mixing the iron with coal, melting it and placed in the balling furnaces, which are shaped in a furnace of peculiar form, exposing it for two hours not much unlike the puddling furnaces. The iron is to a fierce heat urged by a powerful blast, drawing it not melted this time ; but it is brought to an intensely off into moulds which give it the form of large slabs, white heat; and each pile of bars, called a bloom, is and suddenly dashing it with cold water. Carbon and dragged from its furnace, placed between two rollers, oxygen are driven from the iron by this series of pro- and drawn repeatedly through or between them until cesses ; and it is in this sense that it has become re- it has assumed the form of a railway bar, a square fined. The refineries, or refining furnaces, have bar, a cylindrical rod, or any one of the many forms bulky square chimneys twenty or thirty feet in height; which bar-iron is made to assume, The bloom and when ranged in considerable number they form a sometimes weighs as much as four hundredweight, and conspicuous feature in some of the great works. To con- yet it is wielded about by one man, in being passed vert this pig-iron into wrought iron, is the labour which through the rollers. The wonderful Nasmyth's Hammer, distinguishes the South Wales works from all others; of which one of the largest specimens in the world for in no other place are the forges or mills of such vast is at the Dowlais works, is some times used for the extent and power. Let the reader conceive an ex- same object as the squeezers—to bring the balls into tensive, dimly-lighted building, roofed and floored the form of long masses : opinions differ, we believe, with iron, studded here and there with furnaces, pro- as to whether the blow or the squeeze is the most vided in various spots with machinery of the most effective for this duty; but when the blow does ponderous description, the darkness relieved by the come, with this hammer of six tons weight, it is vivid glow of white hot masses of metal moving about | literally one of the most crushing processes which our hither and thither, and this glow itself having a sooty manufacturing arts exhibit. In the making of railway hue imparted to it by the smoke-and he has before bars, the bloom passes eight or nine times between him what, at such works, is called the mill : that is, the rollers before it is brought to the proper thickthe place where wrought iron is made. The blast fur- ness and shape. And it is subsequently brought to naces and the refining furnaces we have already the proper state by cutting into accurate lengths, spoken of; but those in the mill are the puddling and filing at the cut ends, and straightening throughout. the balling furnaces. The puddling furnaces are vault- Iron casting is not conducted on such a vast scale in shaped brick structures, in which the iron, broken by South Wales as in Staffordshire ; the operations being sledge-hammers from the state of refined slabs, is once more frequently limited to wrought iron. When, how. again heated and melted; it is stirred about for many ever, castings are made, as at the fine establishment of hours, (awful work for the puddlers, who have to stand Cyfarthfa, the liquid iron is poured into moulds formed before open doors while using the long iron stirring- in sand, and solidifies into the desired shape. The rod); and the effect of this stirring, aided by the iron is purified and refined before it is fit for casting; admission of air, is to convert the liquid iron into a and the moulds are prepared with great care. thick dough-like substance. The contents of each furnace are divided by the stirring-rod into five portions, called balls. Each ball is seized with a huge pair !

THE NORTH-East Districts. of tongs by a man, dragged from the furnace along the In taking a rapid run through the manufacturing parts floor of the mill to the squeezer, and placed between the of South Wales, we suppose the reader to cross the jaws of this tremendous instrument. A squeeze is a

Severn or the Bristol Channel, and to set foot at Chepvery indefinite thing, varying from rough to pleasant stow or Newport. The eastern part of Monmouthaccording to circumstances : in this case it is both shire we touch not: it has already been treated by an rough and ready. The fiery ball of iron is placed upon able hand in a former volume (vol. i., p. 242; Tue Wre). a kind of slab or anvil, and a weighty iron level or As we approach towards the Glamorganshire border, the arm comes down quietly but irresistibly upon it-not towns gradually assume a mining and manufacturing with a blow, but with a genuine squeeze. All the aspect. Usk presents no such appearance. Situated on dross is effectually squeezed out of the mass by this the river of the same name, near the centre of the county, operation, and the ball is brought to the form of an it is a small, clean, pretty, ancient town; with good ingot or bar about two feet long by four inches salmon and trout fishing for the disciples of Izaak Wall square. This piece, while still red-hot, is drawn ton, and Roman antiquities for the archæologists. Going repeatedly through rollers, until it is elongated to thrice on towards the south-west, we come to Abergavenny, a its former length and reduced to one-third of its thick-town possessing almost as lovely a situation as any in

Wales ; it stands at the head of a beautiful vale, and Such is the nature and operation of the puddling is nearly surrounded with graceful mountains. In acprocess, by which all that is not wanted is energetically cordance with the usual meaning of the Welsh Aber squeezed out of the iron. Next we come to the (signifying a confluence or junction), the name of this

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


town is derived from the junction of the small river | howel, for it stands at the confluence of the Honddû Gavenny with the Usk. The once noble castle is gone, and the Tarrell with the Usk. There are no less than but the fine priory church still exists, though deformed five bridges over these several streams at Brecon. by the restorations' of tasteless improvers. Most of These streams and bridges, the mills on the banks of the perriwigs of the beaux of past ages, we are told, the streams, the ivy-covered ruins of the ancient castle, were made at Abergavenny; and there is still a manu- the turret and gateway of the ancient priory, and the facture of coarse woollen goods. Mr. Cliffe, in his mountain scenery southward of the town-all combine well-written“ Book of South Wales," says :-"The to make Brecon a very pleasant spot. The castle in establishment of the Abergavenny Cymreigyddion which the union of the Houses of York and Lancaster Society in 1832, for the purpose of continuing, on an is said to have been projected, has wholly disappeared important scale, the ancient Bardic Festivals, has been except a few fragments, and a hotel has been built on a very beneficial to the town and neighbourhood in part of the site—not much to the satisfaction of archæo. several respects. The objects of the Society are ex- logists. The Benedictine priory, dedicated to St. John pansive, and embrace not merely the cultivation of the Evangelist, and founded in the reign of Henry I. national historical studies, traditions, and music, but has not approached so near extinction ; there are porthe encouragement of native manufactures, rural tions left of the gateway and outer walls; there are economy, &c.; for which end, prizes and rewards are some outbuildings (now used as a farm-house), and the given, varying in value from one to ninety guineas, priory-chapel now forms the parish church of St. John. and including several harps. There are many Cym- There is sufficient visible yet to show that this venereigyddion Societies in Wales ; but this is the only one rable structure bad all the characteristics of a fine of practical utility, with the exception of a Society cruciform church in the early English style, with nave, of more recent origin in North Wales . . A great chancel, transept, central tower, screen, and rood-loft ; impetus has been given to the manufacture of Welsh but it has been so altered to adapt it to the wants of a woollens and hats by the Cymreigyddion-a name which modern congregation, and (perhaps we may sa;) to the means a Society of Welshmen, although it numbers many taste of tasteless church wardens, that it exhibits very English members. A hall, capable of holding two little of its original features. The Priory-house, an thousand persons, has been built, chiefly for the use of ancient mansion on the site of the priory, gave a night's the Society. The annual congress is held in October, rest to Charles I. after the the battle of Naseby, and a and is of course a great event. The procession on night's rest also to George IV., on his return from these occasions is rendered national by attention to Ireland. Brecon is the seat of the College of Christcostume, and extends for a mile; the meeting lasts two church, which, established in another part of Wales in days."

the fourteenth century, was removed to this town by A little farther on the same road, we cross the Henry VIII., who gave to it the revenues of the boundary, and find ourselves in Wales political as well suppressed monastery of St. Nicholas. It is a collegiate as Wales national. We enter Brecknockshire, and establislıment, from the Grammar School of which speedily arrive at Crickhowel. The river Usk is here young men were formerly admitted into holy orders a pleasant stream flowing in a valley between mountains without graduating at either of the Universities ; but or lofty hills. One of these mountains is the Sugar this important privilege has been withdrawn since the Loaf or Pen-y-val, about equidistant from Aberga- establishment of St. David's College at Lampeter. venny and Crickhowel; it is a favourite spot for Continuing our route nearly in the same direction as excursionists, as from the summit (1856 feet high) a before, that is, somewhat to the north of westward, we wide range of beautiful prospects can be obtained. The come to the limits of Brecknockshire, and enter the Holy Mountain, or Scyrryd Vawr, not far from the county of Caermarthen. We meet with nothing but same spot, is another lofty eminence, more rugged than Welsh villages and Welsh mountain-scenery on the the former. Crickhowel is a clean, pretty town, much way. Southward of us is a region as rugged as any to resorted to by anglers, and much admired for the views be met with in South Wales ; it is furrowed with obtained from it of the mountains of Breannog, Darren, mountains and valleys stretching nearly in a north and Llanwenarth, Blorenge, and Myarth. Of the once south direction, and watered by rivers, some of which beautiful castle of Crickhowel, inhabited by Anglo- | flow northward into the Usk, and others southward into Norman families in the twelfth and following centuries, the Glamorganshire rivers. There is, in fact, a chain nothing remains but a small group of ruins and a of mountains running across the county from east to mount called the Castle tump. Smollett, in his west, and forming a water-shed between two systems of “ Humphrey Clinker,” speaks of the Crickhowel valleys. This chain, which obtains the general name of flannels; but the manufacture has been discontinued at the Black Mountains, begins in the west in a lofty that town, where, however, paper and shoes are made, mountain whose two summits are called the Caermarand near which a little iron and coal are met with. thenshire Van or Beacons, on the confines of the two

Advancing still onward in the same direction, towards counties; and it ends on the borders of Monmouththe north-west, we come to Brecon, the chief town of shire, near Cricklowel. The two peaks of the Van are the county, and placed nearly in its centre. It is in the two counties, one in each, and are about 2500 quite as much distinguished for valley scenery as Crick feet high ; they form very conspicuous objects from

[ocr errors]


every side, on account of the remarkable relation whicli prettily situated in the midst of a fertile vale surthey bear one to another. But it is at a spot about rounded by hills, of which some are richly wooded. ten miles eastward of the Van, that the Black Moun-Woollens and flannels used to be manufactured in the tains attain their greatest elevation. The Brecknock-town; but malt is now the chief product of the place. shire Van or Beacons, the Bannan Brecheiniog, the Cader Knighton, also situated near the Herefordshire border, Arthur, are the various names of this elevated spot, has the Welsh name of Trev-y-Clawdd, signifying the which rises to a height of about 2900 feet, the highest town upon the dyke. It stands close to the stupendous in South Wales, though lower than some of the eleva- rampart called Offa's Dyke, which the king of the tions in North Wales. Under the southern declivity of Mercians raised as a line of separation between his one the highest peak is a small lake, called Llyn Cwm dominions and Wales. The town has a fine situation Lywch, which is the source of the small river Tarrell. on an eminence on the south bank of the river Tewe, The Caermarthenshire Van has a similar small lake near and at the head of a sheltered and well-timbered vale. the summit, which forms the source of the river Usk. New Radnor has sadly fallen from its once palmy That portion of the Black Mountains which lies east- condition. Its Welsh name (the Welsh ward of the Brecknockshire Van belongs chiefly to the always expressive) is Maes-Yred, which is said to limestone formation, and is of less elevation than the mean 'the imbibing meadow,' and to be derived frea western portion. Nearer to the Glamorganshire the circumstance of the little river Someryil sinking border are the high, steep, and barren hills which into the earth in the vicinity of the town, and following mark the northern outcrop of the great iron and coal a subterranean course for some distance. There was district ; and throughout this part of the country the a strong castle in the town, belonging to the Morscenery is stern, the roads rugged, the villages few, and timers; and this castle was the scene of many stirring the population scanty.

conflicts in early time ; but it was taken and destroyed Northward of the main road through the county, is by Owen Glendower (Owain Glyndwr) in 1401, ar.d another group of mountains, the Eppynt, near which is the town seems to have fallen into insignificance from the lofty ridge of Mynydd Mawr. These mountains that time. Henry VIII. made it the county town for stretch across from Cardiganshire to Radnorshire, some time; but this privilege has since been transferred where they are stopped by the river Wye; and they to Presteign ; and New Radnor is now very little more thus cut off in a singular manner the northern part of than an agricultural village. Brecknockshire from the rest of the county. This northern part is still more thinly inhabited, and is still less traversed by roads, than the extreme south of the

MERTHYR, AND THE DowLAIS IRON-WORKS. county ; its barren hills are only available as summer Let us now direct our steps southward ; and especi. pastures for sheep. Of the towns which stand on the ally to that comparatively small area of country Wye, at the north-eastern margin of the county, such which, lying near the junction of the three counties of as Hay and Builth, we here say nothing; they Monmouth, Brecknock, and Glamorgan, is the chief scarcely belong to our present district.

source of the mineral wealth of South Wales. First If, instead of leaving Brecon by the western route into and greatest, then, let us look at Merthyr. Caermarthenshire, we turn towards the north, we shali Merthyr Tydvil is certainly one of the most remarkfind our road crossing the eastern part of the Eppynt able towns in the kingdom. It is not only figuratively Hills into Radnorshire, which county it joins close to but literally true, that Merthyr has not had time to the town of Builth ; or if we take the route from wash itself, to dress itself, to provide the outward Hereford, we ter this county on its eastern margin. decencies and put on the outward attractions which our Radnorshire is so far beyond the limits of the mineral towns generally try to exhibit. It has grown too fast; field, which is here the chief object of our attention, and like all too rapid growths, the increase shows itself that we can give it but a hasty notice. Instead of in one particular direction, and not proportionably in all. having a particular chain of mountains in a definite The various elements which form society have not direction, this county has groups scattered irregularly grown by equal steps ; there is very little that can be over nearly the whole of the surface. There is, how- called a middle class, to create those multitudinous ever, an approach towards a line of mountains along buildings and institutions and usages which depend more the south-east side, another along the north-east side, upon the middle class than upon the higher or the lower. and another along the north-west; leaving a kind of The name of Merthyr Tydvil had a pretty origin, hollow basin in the centre of the county, where the whether truly told or not. The county tradition tells us rivers Ithon, Cymaron, Clywedog, and others meet. that in the fifth century Tydvil, or Tydfyl, daughter of Various portions of these mountains obtain the names Brychan, Prince of Brycheiniog in this county, was of Radnor Forest, Clas Hill, and Cwm Toyddwr Hills. regarded as a merthyr or martyr. A band of Saxons The forest of Radnor is the loftiest mountain district and Irish Picts, attacked the castle of the prince, and in the county, and attains a height of nearly three slaughtered him, his son, and his daughter. From thousand feet. Of the towns, Rhayadyr belongs to the some circumstances which do not appear to have been Wye valley. Presteign, close upon Herefordshire recorded, the maiden became more famed than her (indeed part of the parish is in the latter county) is father or brother; and a church was built near the

[merged small][ocr errors]
« PředchozíPokračovat »