Neath Abbey Ironworks drawings bought by archiveContinue reading the main story
Thousands of engineering drawings from an ironworks dating back more than 200 years have been bought by the West Glamorgan Archive.
Neath Abbey Ironworks made steam locomotives in the early days of the railways as well as ship and mine engines.
The archive was given first refusal to buy the collection.
Archivist Kim Collis said: "It is a rare survival from across a large time period of the industrial revolution."
The foundry was built in 1792 and leased to the Quaker firm of Fox and Company, which was based in Falmouth, Cornwall.
The ironworks' heyday coincided with the development of the railways and steamships - and the opening up of the coalfields across south Wales.
Swansea and Neath also became important world centres for metals.
End Quote Kim Collis West Glamorgan County Archivist
The level of care taken in their execution reflects high standards of workmanship for which the foundry had a reputation”
The ironworks produced locomotives, ship engines, machinery for gas works and pumping and winding engines for mines until it finally closed in the mid 1880s.
The collection includes more than 8,000 engineering drawings for work dating back to the late 18th Century.
Ms Collis added: "While much of the trade was local to south Wales, orders came in not only from the rest of the United Kingdom but also for mining operations in Mexico and South America, reflecting the growth of British entrepreneurship in the western hemisphere."
She said the plans were detailed and finely drawn and would be an "invaluable resource" for people interested in the techniques of manufacturing and mining - and also transport and industrial history.
"The level of care taken in their execution reflects high standards of workmanship for which the foundry had a reputation," said Ms Collis.
The collection had been on deposit at the Swansea-based archive for more than two decades but the owner decided he wanted to sell.