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Bersham Iron

1823

Held under a lease from & and Richard Myddelton, t dated, 20th of August, 1785, for Nos 1 - 12, Let to Messrs Harris dated 13th of April 1818, for be of £103.2.0 a year. Area 7.A Nos 13-20. In occupation of Thom

Tonant at will. Area 32.
A

Nos 21-32. Im occupation of Will
Tenant at will. Area 67. A

No Paper Mill, two pools, embe

is no hint given as to the particular part of Ruabon in which this furnace was situate. The ledger shows that in order to obtain control over the water of the Clywedog, the Bersham Company had rented of Mr. Griffith Speed the Felin Buleston (Puleston Mills), and apparently also the Esclus Mills, of Miss Conway Longueville. They also carried on the Abenbury Forge, which was erected in 1726 by Edward Davies (see Appendix); for this forge they paid to Wm. Travers, Esq., of Trefalyn House, in the parish of Gresford, a rent of £52 a year. As I did not notice in the ledger any reference to the use of charcoal, I conclude that iron-stone was already smelted at Bersham exclusively by means of coal.

I have said that the original blast furnace at Bersham was on land belonging to John Roberts, Esq., of Hafod y bwch. This furnace, with the land pertaining thereto, passed ultimately into the occupation of the Wilkinsons, and into the ownership of Wm. Lloyd, Esq., of Plas Power. This is certain, and yet it is equally certain that the site of the Bersham Iron Works, as they were known in their later and more prosperous days, belonged to the Myddeltons of Chirk Castle, for on Aug. 20, 1785, Richard Myddelton, Esq., and his son of the same name, leased to John Wilkinson the site of the works and much land adjoining, comprising in all 68 statute acres, for 100 years, at a rent of £100 a year. I append a map of the land so leased with the buildings, houses, etc., as the whole was in the year 1829. 1829. Close to the weir, but on the other side of the road, against the cliff face, considerable remains of one of the old blast furnaces may still be seen.' The Bersham

1 This is described in the plan herewith given as a lime-kilu, and it may have been used as such in 1829. But the interior of it is coated with a difficultly fusible iron glaze or slag which points distinctly to the original purpose of the structure.

D

Mills, belonging to the Myddeltons, and leased to the Bersham Company, appear to have been called "The Cadwgan Mills."

John Wilkinson relied at first wholly on the streamthe Clywedog-which ran by the Bersham Works, for the power which he required to work his blast, and do other needful work. He thereupon set himself to obtain, as far as possible, full control over the stream. Below the Bersham Works were, first of all, the Esclus (or Esless) Mills; then, in the order named, Melin Buleston (or Puleston Mills); Melin Coed y Glyn, more commonly called "The French Mills," in what is now Erddig Park, near the junction of the Clywedog and Black Brook; the King's Mills; the Abenbury Forge; and finally, the Llwyn-onn Mills. The Esclus Mills and Abenbury Forge Mr. Wilkinson rented; the Puleston Mills he at first rented, and afterwards bought of Mr. Griffith Speed, or of Mr. Speed's representatives; the French Mills were pulled down by Mr. Yorke with the view of improving his park; the King's Mills and Llwyn-onn Mills Mr. Wilkinson was never able to get hold of. Above the Bersham Works were two "pandai," or fulling mills, one on the Bersham, and the other on the Esclusham side of the stream. came the Nant Mill, and finally the Minera Mill. The last named Mr. Wilkinson purchased towards the end of the century, and the Esclusham Pandy he rented for a time, but over the Bersham Pandy and Nant Mills he seems never to have acquired any sort of control.

Then

But Wilkinson was soon to make himself, by help of his friend, James Watt, almost wholly independent of water power. Watt's steam engine was destined to become a practical reality as soon as its inventor could find some one able to bore his cylinders with the required truth and smoothness. John Wilkinson was the first, it is said, who

showed himself competent to do this, and the cylinders for many of Watt's steam engines were at first made at Bersham and Broseley.

This was about the year 1775. Then in turn Watt's engines came to be used more and more at Bersham Works, instead of the old water wheels, and for purposes which the old water wheels could in no way have served. I may add that there was in full work six or seven years ago at the Ffrwd Works an old beam pumping engine, made at Bersham in the year 1797. I have among my notes a full description of this engine, but cannot now lay my hands upon it. I may, however, say that I remember seeing on the cylinder, which was 48 inches in diameter, the date 1797, and the name "Bersham," while at each end of the beam, and on each side of it, was in high relief a small crucified figure accompanied by three angels.

The following extract from the second edition of Nicholson's Cambrian Travellers' Guide (1813) may be interesting, as giving a contemporary account' of the Bersham Works, and of the operations carried on there :

"Two miles from Wrexham is Bersham iron furnace belonging to Messrs. J. and W. Wilkinson. This concern was first attempted in 1761, but it proved unsuccessful, and it fell to Mr. John Wilkinson to prosecute renewed plans in which he succeeded wonderfully. The mechanism employed is exceedingly ingenious, and his works

I say a "contemporary account," for although it appears for the first time in the 1813 edition, when the brothers were both dead, and long after they had quarrelled with each other, it had evidently been written years before, and was inserted in the Guide without correction. For in the same book a different and up-to-date account is given of the Bersham Works, which are described as having belonged to "the late John Wilkinson, Esq."

* That is, "the concern was first attempted in 1761," by the two brothers. Their father, as we have seen, had the works before them, and the furnace was in existence at least as early as 1724.

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