A History of the British Ironworks, Abersychan by Kim Colebrook The industrial history of Gwent owes a great deal to the Eastern Valley, on the edge of the coalfield. The two great centres of Blaenavon and Pontypool have been well researched and documented. It is often forgotten that the rest of this area was also deeply involved in the industrial revolution; and as a result they have been ignored in terms of research. The British Ironworks Abersychan, is one such ignored development. As a result I decided to look into its history for my third year college thesis. It cannot be said to be the definitive work for several data sources were neglected due to the pressure of time. This article is taken from the full project with the exclusion of several figures and plates. CHAPTER 1 GREaT EXPECTATIONS. 1825 TO 1840 The British Iron Company was attracted to the area, as were many other companies, by the prospect of making a great deal of money through the use of the area's natural resources. Abersychan was one of the areas they selected for development, some of the others being Aber- crave, Ruabon, Neath Vale, Newbridge, Corngreaves and Brierley Hill.1 However, the Abersychan works were the most important to the British Iron Company and had a checkered history. It can be assumed that the Company were investigating the Eastern Valley from the early part of the 1820's. By 2nd August 1825 the location had been decided upon and the Directors of the Abersychan works, namely Small, Shears and Taylor, and the Lords and Ladies of the Manor of Wentsland and Bryngwyn had signed the sixty year lease which entitled the British Iron Company to raise coal, limestone, iron- stone, building stone, clay and sand over 1236 acres (500 hectares) of their land near Abersychan. It also allowed them to use the water which passed over and through this area. For these rights an annual surface rent of £ 401.5s.6d. ( £ 401.27^) and a mineral rent of £ 5,625 had to be paid as well as a galeage (royalty) of 4/6d. (221p) per tonne of pig or plate iron produced. This was a very high rent as the majority of the old concerns paid very little or no mineral rent.2 There appears to have been a fourth director involved in the original negotiations but because of his financial background he was not acceptable to the other party; this held up the signing of the contracts. The Company also purchased nine small adjoin-
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