|Gorseinon & District History Archive The Lives The People The Culture|
The town of Gorseinon and its surrounding areas have a long and fascinating history.
This Time Line highlights key moments in our past.
GORSEINON & PENYRHEOL HISTORY
1136 On New Year’s Day the men of Brycheiniog under the leadership of Hywel ap Maredudd, Lord of Brecon, launched an attack on the Normans of Gower. The battle was fought at Garn Goch and much blood was said to have been spilt.
1147 Neath Abbey was taken over by the Order of the Cistercian monks. Melin Mynach, also known as the ‘Monks’ Mill’ was built by the Cistercian Monks from Neath Abbey in the middle of the 12th Century, and it formed part of the grange of ‘Cwrt Y Carnau’ on the Loughor Estuary. Melin Mynach was a grist mill which ground corn for animal feed — Cistercian Granges often consisted of both arable and livestock holdings.
1200 The Cistercian Monks of Cwrt-y-Carnau were producing high-quality wool which was exported to the woollen markets of Flanders and Italy.
1349 The Black Death plague of 1349-50 devastated the population.
1539 Dissolution of the greater monasteries including Neath Abbey and monks allowed to return to lay life. The remaining monks were pensioned off.
1575 John Pryce with Briton Ferry family connections purchased the manor of Cwrt-y-Carnau, which included Melin Mynach which was rented out.
1578 The miller in 1578 was a Thomas Roberts, who was fined for rioting which was sparked off by Pryce enclosing the common land.
1700 The metal industry in the valleys of South Wales, was expanding, with large developments in the Neath, Landore , Morriston and Swansea areas.
1722 Thomas Selman married Anne Phillips on 8 January 1722. The newly weds became tenants at Melin Mynach and Thomas Selman started a paper-making mill whilst continuing to operate the grist mill.
1736 A second mill was built and joined to the south of the original building.
1812 Nathaniel Cameron married Laetitia Pryce Cuny, heiress of the Gellihir Estate. He became owner of Melin Mynach from 1812 until 1852.
1815 Brynteg (Beautiful Hill) Chapel was built.
1819 By the early 19th century, small paper mills were no longer economic and it is thought that paper production ceased and the mill reverted to a grist mill.
1821 Nathaniel Cameron, the first Reform Mayor of Swansea, gained full control of Melin Mynach following the death of his mother-in-law Mayzod Pryce Cuny on 1 August 1821 aged 71. There is a memorial to Mayzod at Ilston Parish Church.
1834 A copy of the Prospectus for the Cameron Steam Coal and Swansea and Loughor Railway Company appeared in the Cambrian.
1844 During 1844 and 1845 Nathaniel Cameron, Magistrate and land owner, formed the Cameron Coalbrook Steam Coal & Swansea & Loughor Railway Company. He intended mining coal just north of Melin Mynach and building a railway to carry the coal to Swansea.
1846 Cameron’s mine which was situated on an area of waste ground on Loughor Common was called the Cameron Colliery. It became known as ‘the Mountain Coal,’ which was a drift mine. It was opened in 1846 and its coal was transported on a narrow gauge railway line to Loughor. There was a major shipping place at Loughor and coal was loaded onto barges, sent to Llanelli and transported all over the world.
1852 The Cambrian carried a report on 21 January 1852 that a Liquidator had been appointed for the winding-up of Cameron’s Coalbrook Steam Coal & Swansea & Loughor Railway Company. Following Nathaniel Cameron’s bankruptcy, the Cameron Estate, including Melin Mynach was sold 8/9 June 1852. William Lewis, a woollen dyer at Melin Llan near Penllergaer bought Melin Mynach. At first he tried to sell the mill as a going concern. He seems to have used Melin Mynach as security to buy more property. Monarch Chemical Works (Melin Mynach Chemical Works) was restarted by new proprietors, Mrs Morris of Pontaman Works and WilliamLewis.
1860 Around this time the London and North Western Railway Company wanted to extend their railway line from Pontardulais to Swansea and approached William Lewis of Melin Mynach. The astute businessman sold some of his land and eventually a station was built near the old mill.
1866 William Lewis and his family moved to Melin Mynach and he started a woollen mill.
1867 William Lewis organised a subscription of farmers and landowners to build better roads around the mill.
1867-70 Two major railway companies GWR and L & NWR had combined to build a railway from Pontardulais to Swansea. They built a station in Rhydymardy but found it difficult to decide what name to call it. The name Rhydymardy was rejected as being too difficult for the English to pronounce and the name Gorseinon was eventually adopted. The station was known as Gorseinon Station. When the railway line was completed a siding was laid from the colliery to Gorseinon Station and ‘Mountain Coal’ was sent direct to Swansea Docks.
1871 On 16 June 1871 the Cambrian newspaper reported that Melin Monach (Mynach) Chemical Works at Llandilo Talybont was for sale by auction at the Cameron Arms and J. M. Leeder was the Auctioneer. On 23 June the Cambrian carried at notice of the auction of Melin Monach Chemical
1874 William Lewis added to the buildings at Melin Mynach, to include a new dye-house and he also installed machinery from a specialist firm in Montgomery. His major capital investment intimated that his business interests were profitable and successful. His main business seemed to be supplying garments for the workers of the expanding industries of the area.
1880 The first Day School was opened in Penyrheol. The Headmaster was Mr. Jones
1881 The first tinworks, known as the Gorseinon Tin Works, was built in 1881 on land owned by William Lewis, and became known as the ‘Old Works’. The venture was not successful. Also, Gorseinon Terrace, Eynon Street and part of High Street had been built.
1882 All Saints Church (later to be re-named Holy Trinity Church) was erected complete with Mission Hall for Sunday School.
1884 Mr. Willis opened a foundry in the locality. Bethania English Congregational Church was built in Masons Road (West Street).
1885 The Lewis family, William and his three sons, bought out the Port Talbot owners of the ‘Old Works’ (the Gorseinon Tin Works). William Lewis was instrumental in enlarging the Old Works from a two-mill plant to a six-mill plant complete with a finishing department.
1886 The Grovesend Tinplate Works was established. Seion Baptist Church started its services (re-located to its present site in 1902).
1887 Gorseinon had ten mills and each tinplate mill employed about 60-70 workers so that before 1889 around 600-700 workers were employed in the local tinplate industry. Ebenezer Congregational (Welsh) Chapel was built (re-located in 1909).
1888 Woollen manufacturing had ceased at the mill and the Lewis family concentrated on their other business interests. William Lewis continued to live at the Mill House whilst the silent mills fell into disrepair. William Lewis had launched a scheme for workers houses to be built. If workers paid an extra amount on top of their rent, after fourteen years, they became the owners. High Street, Mill Street and Railway Terrace appeared. Alexandra Road had been known as London Road and was part of the old coach route from west Wales over the River Loughor on to the east and London.
1890 The Gorseinon Tinplate Works started the Grovesend Steel Works and sold its interest. The Grovesend Steel and Tinplate Co. Ltd. was registered.
1891 South Wales Tin-workers go on strike. It was to last seven months.
1893 The Gorseinon Junior School (National Board) on the corner of High Street & Brighton Road was opened.
1896 The Cambrian carried a notice that a large new steel works was to be built at Gorseinon for the Bryngwyn Steel Company. William Rufus Lewis, younger son of William Lewis, was to be Managing Director.
1897 The Lewis family continued to put their faith in tinplate and during 1897, before the slump was over, they had invested in a new large steelworks at Bryngwyn where they installed larger furnaces. There were steelworks and sheet galvanising works on the same site owned by the Lewis family. The new steelworks increased the output of steel to the group of tinplate works owned by the Lewis family.
1900 ‘The Mountain Coal’ which had been a drift mine was converted when a shaft was sunk in 1900 and was known as The Mountain Colliery. West End Hotel opens its doors for the first time. The Mardy Hotel became the fourth public house to be opened in Gorseinon.
1902 William Lewis died at Melin Mynach.
1904 Joseph Bevan opens a saw mills in lower High Street. The “Institute” was opened.
1905 Gorseinon had its water system laid, followed by a sewage system in 1908.
1908 The new technology led to the establishment of the Bryngwyn Sheet Works in Gorseinon where six Staffordshire-type mills were installed. Experienced mill men were brought in from the Midlands which caused friction with the local tinplate men.
1909 A new company opened the Mardy Tinplate Works.
1910 The Mardy Tinplate Works was started with 6 mills.
1911 Gorseinon Boys School (National Board) is opened.
1913 St. Catherines Church is consecrated and dedicated.
1930 William Rufus Lewis, the youngest and surviving son of William Lewis, founded Gorseinon Hospital which opened with space for 60 patients.
1937 An outpatients’ department was added to Gorseinon hospital.
1938 William Rufus Lewis of New Lodge, youngest son of William Lewis of Melin Mynach, died on 5th November 1938.
1955 The last residents moved from Melin Mynach to a modern home in Gorseinon. The Mill House was demolished and with it over eight hundred years of history.