Lithgow Steelworks, New South Wales, Australia, 1920s
Lithgow Steelworks, New South Wales, Australia, 1920s
 Philip Bowen Gibbon and his son Barrie, Loaned by Kay Staffen
Philip Bowen Gibbon and his son Barrie, Loaned by Kay Staffen
Philip Bowen Gibbon and his wife Minnie, Loaned by Kay Staffen
Philip Bowen Gibbon and his wife Minnie, Loaned by Kay Staffen
Philip Bowen Gibbon and his wife Minnie, Loaned by Kay Staffen
Philip Bowen Gibbon and his wife Minnie, Loaned by Kay Staffen

Iron working centres often adapted themselves to the creation of steel, a stronger, more versatile material. Unsurprisingly Welsh workers played an important part in this change.

In Middlesbrough, England, the Welsh owned company of Bolckow Vaughan was the single largest producer of steel in the world between 1885 and 1914.

In the USA, the iron-producing heartlands of Pennsylvania and Ohio also turned to steel production. Samuel J Evans, a tinplate worker from Betws in Carmarthenshire, emigrated in 1899 to Aliquippa, Pennsylvania where he worked in the steel mill as a rollerman. He married Bess Parry, who was born in Pennsylvania to Welsh parents.

Steel industries developed, with the assistance of Welsh workers, in Australia and other countries. These in turn caused a decline in the Welsh steel industry as demand for exports dropped. Welsh workers were then forced to emigrate to look for further work in the industry although their skills and techniques were considered dated and less in demand by the 1950s.

Philip Bowen Gibbon

Born in Cardiff in 1900, Gibbon spent his early years in the Swansea Valley. As a young man, he worked as a crane-driver at Gilbertson's Steel Works in Pontardawe. A decline in production there influenced his decision to emigrate to Australia in 1926. There he worked at the BHP Steel Works in Newcastle, New South Wales. He died in 1993.

Leave a comment