Penydarren was home to a Roman fort, a great ironworks and the
world's first steam powered railway locomotive.
The site you are overlooking was where Penydarren ironworks once
The Homfray's founded Penydarren Ironworks in 1784.
By 1796 under the management of Samuel Homfray (1762 - 1822) the
works were outperforming its main competitor, Dowlais
Samuel was always looking for ways to improve production. In 1803
he invited Richard Trevithick to Penydarren to demonstrate what his
new high pressure steam engine could do.
Richard Trevithick and the First Steam
Born in Cornwall in 1771 Richard Trevithick was an inventor and
By 1802 Trevithick patented a new type of high pressured steam
engine and had already tested the 'Puffing Devil', a road
On the 21st February 1804, spurred on by a bet made between Samuel
Homfray and Richard Crawshay for 500 guineas, Trevithick
revealed his steam locomotive. The locomotive was put on the rails
of the Merthyr (or Penydarren) tram road, and it became the first
steam locomotive in the world to run on rails, carry passengers,
and carry freight. The Penydarren Locomotive travelled to Abercynon
with 10 tons of iron and 70 passengers.
The End of Penydarren Ironworks
By 1813 William Foreman together with Alderman William Thompson
had taken control and for around twenty years Penydarren
The cables for Thomas Telford's Menai Suspension Bridge were made
at Penydarren and they made the rails for the Liverpool and
Manchester railway's in 1830; the first rails made in Wales.
By the mid 1850's the 'Age of Steel' was beginning which would
make the old ironworks redundant. Penydarren could not hope to
finance the changes involved in converting to steel so by July 1859
'these works in the active sense of the word, have ceased to
exist...the furnaces have been extinguished.'
Constructed in 1786 Penydarren House was the first iron master's
estate in Merthyr Tydfil.
"The splendid mansion of Mr S Homfray at Penydarren... contains
all the conveniences and the luxuries requisite for a family of
wealth and importance. The gardens...are now abundantly productive.
The hot-houses, grape-houses, etc, furnish their fruits in
profusion. "(J G Woods, 1813)
The Roman Fort at Penydarren
During construction of Penydarren House workmen discovered the
remains of a Roman settlement.
Constructed around 75 A.D., Penydarren fort covered five acres,
and had a defensive ditch surrounding it. Inside the fort were
timber and stone built barracks, officer's quarters, and a
hospital; there were also ovens, a grain store, a stone lined well,
and a Roman bath house complex.
Was this information useful?