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Crumbling Home of Ironmasters

Home A familiar Carmarthen building that may disappear is Furnace House in St Peter's Street, which in recent years has been used as a community centre. Because it is structurally in a very poor state it became unsafe for public use and was closed in January of this year.

Built about 1760, it is a good example of a Georgian town house and has considerable charm. The building is faced in stucco and has long and short quoins; there are three storeys, each of the upper ones having five sash windows and the whole is surmounted by a parapet. The Corinthian porch is elevated, above a forecourt, which has enclosing walls at each end enriched with pineapple finials. Inside is an eighteenth century staircase with twisted balusters.

The house was associated with the Morgan family, leading ironmasters in eighteenth century Carmarthcnshire. Robert Morgan (d. 1777) who succeeded his father at Kidwelly Forge, also owned ironworks at Carmarthen, Cwmdwylfran, Llandyfan, Whitland and Stackpole, Pembrokeshire. In 1748 he extended his interests to Carmarthen, where he built ironworks on a site below the eastern end of present-day Priory Street. In time the extensive works included a furnace, forge, rolling mills and tin mills and his products, bearing the stamp M.C. (Morgan, Carmarthen), became famous in many parts Of Europe. Home He was succeeded by his son, John Morgan, senior, who became equally famous as an ironmaster and managed the business with great success until 1800, when he leased the works to his nephew, John Morgan, junior, but in the few years the latter was in charge they fell into a ruinous state before passing to Morris Morgan. The family established a bank which issued notes and coin tokens, the latter bearing representations of their works.

The Morgans were succeeded by Reynolds and Smith, who were kept busy exporting tinplates to Glasgow and London, but they moved to Aberavon in 1826, taking their workmen with them. This departure caused grave alarm lest the industry die out in Carmarthen altogether and there were complaints that the M.C. brand mark, which had brought such fame to the town, continued, to be used at Aberavon. A contemporary bewailed that if the industry ceased "hundreds will be on the parish, and, Carmarthen as a trading and manufacturing town will sink into insignificance".

Coal for the works came from Kidwelly in barrels and from Llanelly in three small sloops, the William, the Dragon and the Mary Ann. Lead ore was transported from the works of John Campbell, Stackpole on his estate in the Llandovery area and was smelted for use in the making of tinplates.

Furnace House was probably built by Robert Morgan. An additional feature is the ironwork consisting of hand-rails to the porch and entrance gates and railings dividing the forecourt from the street. These gates and railings were cast at Robert Morgan's works. The gateway has an arch provided with a housing for a lantern, and incised in the iron of one of the pillars is: M. BUSTEED FECIT 1761. The house is included in the list of buildings of architectural or historic interest, but because it has been found impracticable to carry out restoration works which would preserve it authority for its demolition is being reluctantly sought. Only the facade has architectural merit and for technical reasons it is not possible to rebuild behind it. Around the turn of the century it was used as the judge's lodgings and between the wars it was the home of Dr. Harries, a well-known practitioner in the town.
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Historian.CrumblingHomeOfIronmasters moved from Home.CrumblingHomeOfIronmasters on 11 Sep 2005 - 21:42 by ChrisJones - put it back
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