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The Birth of Barry – When Coal was King

Statue of David Davies outside the Dock Offices in Barry
© Park IT Consultancy
The dispute between the Rhondda coal owners and the Bute Trustees came to a head in 1882 when the latter eventually decided to go ahead with the construction of the Roath Dock. At the same time they proposed an addition of 1d per ton to all Bute Dock coal shipments, for ‘gratuitous services’. The Rhondda coal owners then determined to build their own integrated dock and railway. They were led by David Davies, one of the leading figures of the industrial development of Wales. Born at Llandinam, Montgomeryshire, his first ventures were the construction of railways, mainly in Mid-Wales, before moving into the coal business and founding the Ocean Company.

The promoters of the railway included all the leading colliery owners of the Rhondda Valleys. They examined both Barry and the Ogmore Estuary as possible choices before deciding to build their new dock at Barry. They introduced their Barry Dock and Railway Bill in the 1883 parliamentary session. It was defeated, mainly by opposition from the Bute Docks and the Taff Vale Railway, but was passed in the next session and received the Royal Assent in August 1884. It had cost the promoters £70,000.

Words: Richard Watson

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Look back into the past using the Legacies' archives. Find nearly 200 tales from around the country in our collection.

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Internet Links
Axis Historical Society
– Local History For Barry, South Wales, UK
Welsh Coal Mines
– Photos, stories, and poems about Welsh Collieries
Barry, South Wales
– More about Barry
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