Caerleon Net
Caerleon Forge

During the years 1753 to 1755 RR Angerstein, a Swede, toured England and Wales making detailed notes and sketches of important industrial sites and processes. His first 'port of call' in Wales was the Forge at Caerleon. This was situated on the northern edge of the town beside the road to Pontypool. Here he observed water power driving the bellows and hammer used to heat and shape pig iron. As well as recording what he saw, he costed the process of bringing the iron from Abercarn, processing it and then transporting it to Bristol. Mr Roberts, who had recently built the works, and a Mr Williams were his guides.

From Caerleon he went on to Newport, Abercarn, Pontypool, Usk, Monmouth and hence back into England. In Newport Angerstein found little to write about - how different it would have been had he made his tour fifty or more years later.

Other factory owners were not so keen to allow him to see the processes inside their works. In Pontypool he was forced to observe the owner chastise a worker who had allowed him to enter the works without official permission! One can understand the owner's rage - Angerstein was basically engaged in industrial espionage.

Angerstein died shortly after returning to his homeland. The sketches that survive of his tour are fair copies made by a Swedish engineer a few years later. These copies may not have been completely faithful to the originals.

In 2001 the Science Museum published Angerstein's Travel Diary (R R Angerstein's Illustrated Travel Diary 1753 - 1755. Industry in England and Wales from a Swedish perspective. Translated by Torsten and Peter Berg. ISBN 1 900747 24 3). The Museum has kindly granted Caerleon Net a licence to reproduce text and images relating to Caerleon. These can be accessed by following these links:

Passage Across The Severn

Iron Forge At Caerleon

Town Of Newport

There were at least three works in the vicinity of Caerleon in the eighteenth century - the forge which converted pig iron to bar iron; a black-plate mill which rolled iron into plates; and a tin mill. However, it is very difficult to be sure of the locations of these processes at different times. Angerstein says the forge was "a little way from the town" - it seems likely that this was, as suggested above, just on the northern edge of Caerleon beside the road to Pontypool. The tin works was almost certainly in Ponthir. Donovan, in his book Descriptive Excursions Through South Wales In The Year 1804 And The Four Preceding Summers described the 'tin-work' as being 'long since established' and 'at the distance of a mile and a half from the town (Caerleon), in the road to Ponty-pool'. Traces of these works can still be seen just across the railway line from Station Road, Ponthir. From the mid 1790s the tin works and the forge were on the route of the Caerleon Tramroad. Both works may have had machinery to roll the iron into sheets. In any case it seems likely that, at times at least, the works shared management and operated in conjunction.

Left: a page from Carleon Mills ledger for March 7th 1858.
The Ledgers, cash books, waste books, stone house sales, stock books etc (in all 10 volumes) for Caerleon Mills 1758 - 1843 can be viewed in Newport Reference Library. Ref. qM260(671)

There is also evidence that iron working was carried out on a smaller scale in the centre of Caerleon. The marriage and burial records of St Cadoc's Church, which give details of occupations, show conclusively that a large proportion of the male residents were employed in some way in a forge or rolling and tin plating.


Photos taken at the Caerleon Works in the late 1920s or early 1930s.

Caerleon Mills and Ponthir Tinplate Works - Article from Gwent Local History.

The Jenkins Story - Article from Gwent Local History. This tells about four generations of a family which originated in Ponthir or Caerleon Park area and moved to Caerleon. Their money derived from the Ponthir works and possibly the forge. John Jenkins became Sheriff of Monmouthshire in 1838.

The Mynde - Home of the John Jenkins.

Capel Zion, Ponthir - Article from Gwent Local History. Non-conformist Church, very closely associated with the Tin Plate Industry of Ponthir and Caerleon.

The Caerleon Tramroad

Caerleon Net
R R Angerstein's Illustrated Travel Diary | Passage Across The Severn | Caerleon Forge | Town of Newport |
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