Brynmawr Historical Society

Cymdeithas Hanes Brynmawr

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Nantyglo Round Towers

Nantyglo Round Towers – South-West of Nantyglo.

In 1816 Ironmaster Joseph Bailey who feared a British Revolution would break out in this area, constructed two Martello-type towers equipped with iron doors and musket loop-holes to protect his Ty Mawr mansion. In the event what were the last private fortifications built in Britain would not be needed during the Chartist Uprising of 1839 when Ironmasters and their families were neither threated nor molested.  In 1830 Crawshay Bailey built the tramroad visible in the upper (older) photograph, through Brynmawr to his Darren Cilau Quarries before descending to the Brecon to Newport  Canal at Llangattock via  two inclined planes.

Site of Ty Mawr Mansion – Nantyglo ( South of Nantyglo Round Towers)

Only foundations remain of Joseph Bailey’s “Ty Mawr” (“Big House”) mansion at Nantyglo, built in 1811 and, as with most ironmasters residences was sited so prevailing winds would drive off smoke across the valley.  In what was an age of revolution, Bailey’s 1816 Martello- type Defensive towers were erected nearby and, four years later, when he retired to an Usk Valley estate, mansion and works were passed to his brother Crawshay. Although workers lives could be harsh, their housing was superior to that of rural districts, most problems developing  out of increasing numbers and consequent overcrowding. The mythology of “grasping masters  & downtrodden Men” is not borne out by contemporary record.

Crawshay Bailey’s Grave -  Llanfoist Church (Llanfoist Village – 1 Mile west of Abergavenny.)

Nantyglo’s Ironmaster, Crawshay Bailey, lived at Llanfoist House during his latter years and would eventually be buried in the local churchyard. Bailey was not the ogre portrayed in Alexander Cordell’s highly imaginative novel, “Rape of The Fair Country” , being regarded by contemporary opinion  as “a kindly man”. Significant is the fact that many of his former workers walked over the hills from Nantyglo to Llanfoist to attend his funeral. Another indication of master-man relationship is that John Jones, Bailey’s loyal man-servant, lies alongside under a matching obelisk, although its size indicates the relative social status.

Ty-Mawr (Roundhouse) Farm

Photo 1 -  The courtyard at Ty Mawr farm, the buildings to the right houses the stables and above there would be rooms where soldiers could be barracked in time of need. Note the door half way up the wall in the far corner, there was a walkway connected from the doorway to a similar door          at the other end of the building. The far building is also a stable.

Photo 2 - This was the main house of the farm at one time at right angles to the stables block. Later a new house was built near to the main gate.       There was another  building in the courtyard at one time but that had been demolished.

Photo 3 - Inside the above building. Note that the supports and the ceiling joists are made of cast iron.

Photo 4 -  Note the support in the middle of the photograph made of cast iron. The joists and frames were cast at the Nant y Glo iron works and there was a suggestion made that these were available to buy as “kits” to help build your own building.

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