Welsh workers in the ironworks at Hughesovka
Welsh workers in the ironworks at Hughesovka, John Hughes is second from the right in the front row
Henry Taylor of Blaenafon with workers at Hughesovka, 1890s.
Henry Taylor of Blaenafon with workers at Hughesovka, 1890s.
Edward Thomas John
Edward Thomas John
<em>The Welsh Harp</em> pub in Witton Park, County Durham
The Welsh Harp pub in Witton Park, County Durham

Wales was at the forefront of the development of the iron industry in Britain and it is therefore not surprising to find Welsh people leading the industry across the world in the nineteenth century.

John Vaughan of the Dowlais ironworks became a manager at Newcastle upon Tyne, England. There he met a German accountant called Henry Bolckow. Together, they are credited with founding the Cleveland iron industry.

The company of Bolckow Vaughan employed many Welshmen. These included Edward Williams, grandson of the bard Iolo Morganwg. Williams eventually owned another ironworks and became mayor of Middlesbrough.

In the USA, Ohio and Pennsylvania became central to the iron industry attracting many Welsh immigrants. Not all of these had trained in the foundries of Wales however. In southern Ohio many ironworks were started by agricultural emigrants from rural Cardiganshire.

The modern Ukrainian city of Donetsk began as the iron working town of Hughesovska, founded by John Hughes of Merthyr Tydfil. Many Welsh workers were employed there from 1869 until they were expelled during the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Edward Thomas John

Born in Pontypridd in 1857, John moved to Middlesbrough to work for Bolckow Vaughan as a manager. He later returned to Wales and was Liberal MP for East Denbighshire from 1910 to 1918. He was a believer in home rule for Wales and assembled statistics to provide economic arguments in its favour. He died in 1931.


Steve Cook
9 January 2021, 22:55
My 9th Great Grandfather, James Leonard came from Pontypool and set up the first Iron Works in Taunton, Massachusetts Bay Colony ca. 1650.
I hope to visit Pontypool when travel is allowed!
Steve Cook, Denver, Colorado, USA

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