Blog Homepage

A Window into the Industry Collections - February 2016

Mark Etheridge, 25 February 2016

The first object this month is this share certificate for the Ystal-Y-Fera Iron Company. This company was in operation from 1839 until 1885. The company owned the Ystalyfera iron works in the Upper Swansea Valley, as well as extensive coal and iron mining interests. The company was established in 1839 when three co-partners, Sir Thomas Branckner, Joseph James Hegan and Edward Budd acquired land in the Ystalyfera area and built a blast furnace. By 1847 the site had 11 blast furnaces, and was the largest iron works outside Merthyr Tydfil. By 1848 the works also had twelve tinplate mills, making it the largest tinplate works in the world at that time. The works later declined, and eventually closed in 1885. This certificate is made out to Joseph Hegan’s brother John, and is signed by Sir Thomas Branckner and J.P. Budd as Directors.


This badge was produced in 1991 to commemorate the closure of Penallta Colliery. The colliery was opened in 1906 by the Powell Duffryn Steam Coal Company. By 1931 it was one of the largest collieries in South Wales, and employed over 3,000 men. In 1935 it held the European record for coal winding. Penallta finally closed in 1991, and the last shift on the 1 November was led out by a brass band. It was the last deep mine working in the Rhymney Valley.

The black and white photograph shows Penallta Colliery on 9 April 1981, and was taken by John Cornwell.

See this page on our Images of Industry database for more objects related to Penallta Colliery.


This name plate is for a Class 37/4 locomotive No. 37429 ‘Eisteddfod Genedlaethol’. The original diesel/electric locomotive was built in 1965, and withdrawn from service in 2007. In 2015 it was designated by the Railway Heritage Designation Advisory Board and donated to Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales.


The final object this month is this small ceramic vase produced in the early 20th century. On the front it has a view showing ‘Llwynpia Collieries’. It would have been produced as a souvenir ornament.


Mark Etheridge
Curator: Industry & Transport
Follow us on Twitter - @IndustryACNMW


Mark Etheridge

Principal Curator of Collection Development: LGBTQ+
View Profile

Comments (12)

Comments are currently unavailable. We apologise for the inconvenience.
José Aguilera Martínez
31 July 2017, 14:50
Hello Marc

I hope you are good. I continue with my research on Joseph Hegan in the framework of a work on the industrial heritage that exists in the town of Totoralillo (during the nineteenth century, port of Totoralillo), I hope to conclude at the end of this year or during the next. The research will be published electronically and of course I will share it with you.
Many thanks for your patience and help, and blessings.

Greetings from the semiarid north of the region of Coquimbo, Chile.

A) any new data would be of enormous value.
Marc Haynes Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales Staff
28 July 2017, 15:37

Dear Daniel Davila Manrique,

Thank you for your comment, but we regret to inform you that, as our Principal Curator of Industry (Jennifer Protheroe-Jones) notes in a comment below, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales does not hold any information on Joseph James Hegan. We wish you good luck with your research on Hegan and his company.

Best wishes,

Digital Team

daniel davila
28 July 2017, 05:06
good night,
My name is Daniel Davila Manrique. I live in Lima, Peru. I am an archaeologist specializaded in historical archaeology and industrial archaeology. I am investigating about Joseph James Hegan and the Arica & Tacna Railway Company. He will live in Liverpool. the company was established in London in 1853. joseph hegan and co-partners lewis harrop haslewood and jhon peirce kennard. Joseph and his brother jhon were directors of company. You have to information about Joseph Hegan or his company.
Mary Robin
2 July 2017, 05:33
Dear Jose,

Joseph Hegan died in 1865. In his will, he gave the cobalt mines in the province of Coquimbo in Chile to his brother John Hegan and his heirs. In the will of John Hegan, who died in 1876, there is no mention of mines. (There is a reference to shares in the Arica-Tacna railway.) I hope this helps.

Sara Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales Staff
22 June 2017, 09:59

Hi José

I will ask Mark about the photo. For your information, 'Ystalyfera' is a Welsh place name, so the 'and' is not required - hopefully this will help you in your research. If you publish your findings about Joseph Hegan, please do let us know here on the blog.

Best wishes and thanks again for your comment,

Digital Team

José Aguilera Martínez
21 June 2017, 19:48
Hello Mark.
One query, you happen to have a photograph of Ystal and Fera during their operations in the 19th century.
thank you very much
José Aguilera Martínez
21 June 2017, 19:41
Hello Mary.
How interesting to find a descendant of Joseph. I am investigating Hagan's commercial operations in England and South America. You have some document, photograph or file that allows me to know more about this British merchant of century XIX.
Pd: The idea is to reconstruct biographical data of Mr. Hegan. What happened to your business after your death?
Mary Robin
18 June 2017, 04:36
Jose, Joseph Hegan is my ancestor by marriage. Depending on the information you are after, I can try to help.

Jennifer Protheroe-Jones, Principal Curator – Industry Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales Staff
2 May 2017, 08:56

Dear José,

Thank you for your enquiry.

I regret to tell you that Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales holds no information about Joseph James Hegan. Internet searches show that he was born in 1795 and died in 1865, and that he was a Liverpool merchant who traded with Chile and Peru, until 1845 as Hegan, Hall & Company, and from 1845 as Joseph Hegan & Company. Internet searches under the name ‘Joseph Hegan’ revealed more information than searches under ‘Joseph James Hegan’.

His companies do not appear to have left behind a body of archives; the only available information is scattered mentions.

He lived at Dawpool House in the village of Thurstatson, Cheshire and invested in a number of early railway companies, including acting as a director of the Manchester & Leeds Railway Company in the late 1840s.

It can be difficult to gather information on foreign investments of British merchants; there is likely to be more information in archives in Chile than in the UK to study the activities of Joseph Hegan. I am sorry that I cannot directly help you with your enquiry, and wish you luck in your research.

Jennifer Protheroe-Jones, Principal Curator – Industry

Sara Huws Amgueddfa Cymru – Museum Wales Staff
3 March 2017, 14:08

Hi there Gillian,

Our Curator of Industry and Transport has recieved Jose's message but is installing a new exhibition aout the Dillwyn family in Swansea this week. I will pass on your comment so that you can liaise by email.

Thanks for getting in touch and best wishes,

Digital Team