The speltermen of Swansea.

Masters, Joanna. (2014) The speltermen of Swansea. thesis, University of Wales, Trinity St David.

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Abstract

This is a study of the spelter (also known as zinc) industry in the Swansea area between 1860 and 1930. A large histiography of the contribution of copper, and later tin and steel, to the Swansea area exists but spelter is virtually ignored despite Swansea being the centre for British production at that time. With the exception of research into the non-ferrous industries by R. O. Roberts of Swansea University and a technical history of Zinc Smelting in Britain by E. J. Cocks and B. Walters information is scarce. However, examination of contemporaneous journals and newspapers reveal a story of great industrial rivalries, larger than life characters, a volatile market leaving behind a devastating trail of bankruptcies and shattered dreams, betrayal by successive governments and polluted landscapes complete with dying horses. Furthermore at the turn of the twentieth century the “Speltermen of Swansea” became a national cause célèbre with the unenviable reputation of working longer hours in more arduous circumstances with a resulting higher mortality rate than any other industrial occupation; questions were asked in the House of Commons with MP Charles Duncan appealing for an ‘end to the sacrifice of health and life resulting from the unreasonably long hours of employment in a poisonous atmosphere by the speltermen in the Swansea district’.1 Editorial leaders were written, new legislation proposed limiting the working week and yet virtually nothing is known of these men. This dissertation seeks to explore the history of the industry and examine the lives of the people whose fortunes were bound up with its fluctuating fortunes; the owners, the speltermen, and the communities that lived in the shadows of the works.

Item Type: Thesis (UNSPECIFIED)
Additional Information: Series: Carmarthen / Lampeter Dissertations.;.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Spelt, Swansea (Wales)
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Masters Dissertations
Depositing User: John Dalling
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2014 13:10
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2015 10:14
URI: http://repository.uwtsd.ac.uk/id/eprint/414

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