Caerleon Net
R R Angerstein's Travel Diary 1754
- Town Of Newport-
Text and illustrations from the book
R R Angerstein's Illustrated Travel Diary 1753 - 1755
Industry in England and Wales from a Swedish perspective

Published 2001 by the Science Museum
Translated by Torsten and Peter Berg
ISBN 1 900747 24 3

Reproduced here by permission.

All text and images © copyright

Town of Newport
From Caerleon we travelled eight miles [footnote g] further to a small town called Newport, see drawing no. 155, which is located on a navigable river, eight or ten miles [footnote h] from the Severn. Here, close by the river, are the beautiful ruins of a castle that was the residence of one of the Welsh barons who was once absolute ruler of this country.

Mineral coal in the river
As soon as the tide goes out a number of poor people appear to pick mineral coal from the bottom of the river just above the bridge. However frequently they come back there is always something for them hidden in the ordinary shingle that the river has carried with it from the hills above, which contain an abundance of coal seams.

Heaps of iron slag
On this side of the town there were also some pits by the bank of the river where old iron slag was dug up for re-melting in the blast furnaces, reputedly producing a good iron.

Lead mines
On the road between Newport and Abercarn there were two lead mines. Neither of them was very rich or particularly remarkable in any other respect.

Coal mines near Newport
I also saw a number of coal workings on two high mountains, where I was told there were three seams above each other, dipping sometimes south and sometimes north up to 2 feet in 6 feet [footnote i]. These seams are found at depths of 42 feet to 60 feet and 90 feet. Sometimes the overlying rock is thicker, but the seams are at the same distance from each other.

The deepest seam is generally the thickest, being 3 feet to 4 feet deep, but the others 1½ feet to 2 feet and the top one sometimes not more than a suggestion of a seam. I heard the statement made that there is no lead lode in this locality except in limestone, and no coal seams where there are limestone quarries. The coal seams, as shown by drawing no. 156, are generally covered by sandstone and clay slate and next to the coal, petrified wood and impressions of other vegetable matter.

By a high mountain shown on the drawing, on which there are coal mines, it was observed that in the middle of the slope there was a coal mine and a kiln for burning lime. This reveals that limestone can be found below coal seams, but not above, as has already been noted. In the valleys between the mountains there are some woods of deciduous trees that already were in poor condition because too many trees have been felled, although the iron-works in the neighbourhood have not been in operation for more than three years. The woods consist of oak, plane, birch, etc and are first felled and placed in piles [footnote j] for drying for some time. Subsequently it is sold to the forge-masters, who take care of the charcoal burning.

The wood is sold according to 'worst' which is a pile 4 feet long …wide, and 4 feet high, and costs 4 shillings [footnote k]. Sixteen 'worst' are stacked on end to make the stack and in the middle a pole is placed .

When the stack has been completed and covered, the pole is removed and a fire is set in the hole to start the burning. The stack is first covered with twigs and small tree-branches on the outside and then finally with turf. The diameter is generally 8 feet to 10 feet and the burning takes eight to nine days.


Please note, the footnotes have been renumbered for convenience.

[g] The actual distance is only a couple of miles.
[h] The distance along the Usk to the Severn is not more than four miles.
[i] A dip of 18 degrees.
[j] RRA uses the Swedish word 'stavrum' for the piles, a measure for a heap of wood
2'4" x 2'4" x 9' 9".
[k] This measure has not been identified, neither in Swedish nor in English, though it may be related to the German words 'Wurst' in the sense of 'roll' or 'Wulst' meaning 'wreath', hence 'cord'. If the missing dimension is four feet, it could be a local word for 'cord'.


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