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About Tredegar

Tredegar is a town situated on the Sirhowy River in the county borough of Blaenau Gwent, in south-east Wales. Located within the historic boundaries of Monmouthshire, it became an early centre of the Industrial Revolution in South Wales. The historic Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia, United States was named in honour of the town.

Tredegar grew as a developed town thanks to the natural resources it had within the Sirhowy Valley, namely:

  •  Iron ore
  • Coal with which to produce coke
  • Power, from the fast-flowing Sirhowy River
  • Wood, which could be cut for buildings and pit props, and burnt for fuel
Hence by the start of the 1700s, the upper Sirhowy Valley was a natural well wooded valley, consisting of a few farms and the occasional small iron works where iron ore and coal naturally had occurred together.
 


The town is known for its three major riots. In 1868 there were the election riots, which took place after the locals' favourite candidate, Colonel Clifford, was not elected. Secondly in 1882 there was a major anti-Irish riot in Tredegar. There had been a large Irish community in Tredegar since the 1850s, and for a while there had been tensions. Reports from the time vary, however where they all concur includes the fact the riot began with stone throwing and quickly escalated with Irishmen's homes being destroyed and furniture burned in the streets. The Irish were run out of Tredegar and some were beaten. Troops from Newport and Cardiff had to be called in to quell the violence. Thirdly, there were the anti-Jewish riots of 1911, when Jewish shops were ransacked and the army had to be brought in.
 


Samuel Homfray and his partners needed accommodation for their workers, and so needed to develop a suitable town. The land on the eastside of the Sirhowy river was owned by Lt.Col. Sir Charles Gould Morgan who granted a lease in 1799 to build Tredegar Ironworks Company. In 1800, Homfray married Sir Charles daughter Jane, and hence improved his lease terms. The west bank of the river was owned by Lord Tredegar, and hence in the short term remained undeveloped.
 


Homfray was a hard task master. He sold franchisees to business people who wanted to operate within his town, from which he would take a percentage. He paid his workers in his own private coinage, so that they could not easily spend their wages outside the town. However, the opportunity to work created a boom town, which with a parish population of 1,132 in 1801 had boomed to 34,685 by 1881, in part boosted by the laying of the 24 miles (39 km) stretch of horse drawn track to Newport in 1805.
 


There were several cholera epidemics in the town in the 19th century, and a dedicated cholera burial ground was established at Cefn Golau.
 


One of Tredegar's main attributes is the Town Clock - dominating the southern part of the town centre. The clock was the idea of Mrs. R P Davies the wife of the Tredegar ironworks manager, who had decided that she wanted to present a "lofty illuminated clock" and it was she who decided that it would be erected in the Circle.


Tredegar - Castle Street

 



Tredegar - Castle Street

 

Tredegar - Castle Street

 

 

Tredegar - Castle Street


 
"The clock tower is seventy-two feet high. The foundation is of masonry, on which is surmounted the cast-iron base which has four arms from each corner to a distance of sixty feet at a depth of five feet and six inches (152 mm) below ground level. The pillar is wholly composed of cast-iron, upon a square pediment which in turn, receives a rectangular plinth, and upon this stands a cylindrical column of smooth surface and symmetrical diameter, ornamented with suitable coping on which rests the clock surrounded with a weather vane. The plinth is inscribed on the four aspects, on the south side - Presented to the town of Tredegar from the proceeds of a bazaar promoted by Mrs. R.P. Davis. Erected in the year 1858. On the west side is effigy of Wellington, with the legend - Wellington, England's Hero. On the North, the Royal Arms of England; and on the east, the name and description of the founder with his crest, - Charles Jordan, Iron Founder, Newport, Mon. The clock is provided with four transparent faces or dials, each five feet three inches diameter, and these were illuminated originally by gas, but this was later changed to electricity. The minute hands are each two feet two inches long, and the hour hand one foot seven inches long. The clocks mechanism is a fifteen inch (381 mm) mainwheel strike, with a single four-legged Gravity Escapement driving the four dials. It has a 1 second pendulum and the bob weighs two hundredweight".  




Tredegar Community Archiove Group

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