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Newport Branch Meeting, 2022 October 25


Industries and Personalities of the Wye Valley by Colin Andrew

Our talk this month was particularly interesting for those of us who previously considered the Valley to be just a beauty spot (although an outstanding one). Colin outlined the long and important industrial history of the region. He started at Monmouth and worked his way down through Redbrook, Whitebrook, Brockweir, Tintern and finishing at Chepstow, outlining the industries at each location.

Monmouth was once famous for the Monmouth cap, made from the wool of Ryeland sheep and worn by most sailors of the 15th/16th Centuries. William Jones became very rich through this industry and could afford to found the eminent Monmouth School.

Arriving at Redbrook this was prominent in metallurgical products- firstly iron, then copper and finally tin. Redbrook had an international reputation for copper products (cooking pots and copper coinage, which was introduced by King Charles II in 1672 and reigned supreme until Swansea took over as copperopolis in the 18th Century. The tin, which Redbrook could produce in particularly thin sheets, found a ready market in USA for wrapping tobacco products.

Other towns seemed to have their own specialities- Whitebrook for paper used for high quality wallpaper and Tintern for iron wire. Chepstow held an important position until recently and in the Second World War and after, Mabey Bridges produced steel sheeting for Bailey Bridges all over the world.

To summarize an excellent talk- too detailed to list fully- but very well received.

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