History of the Tintern Wire Works – Wye Valley
Information and images courtesy of www.gracesguide.co.uk
The peaceful village of Tintern hides an unexpected hidden history. For over 300 years its metal making industries were at the cutting edge of industrial development in Britain. The Lower Wireworks in Tintern was a large industrial complex which produced thousands of tons of wire, and employed six hundred people at its height.
Wireworks were established on this site during the 16th Century; the site was still metal working until 1895 and is a significant site on a national basis. It was part of the sequence of sites that stretched from the head of the Angidy Valley to the tidal dock near Abbey Mill. It was the largest industrial complex in Wales in the 1600s, and there was a large building with four waterwheels used to power machinery here.
Seven buildings covered the complete site including two forges, a scouring mill, rolling mill and the wire drawing mill which were all powered by waterwheels. The inter-connected industrial sites of iron and wireworks stretched for some two miles up the Angidy Valley. The wire made here was the end result of a process which began at Abbey Tintern furnace, where the iron needed for wire-drawing was smelted.
Some of the finest wire in the country was made here in the 1500s and shipped as far away as Turkey and the Barbary Coast. By the 19th Century, when Britain was supplying manufactured goods around the world, Angidy wire was said to have been used in the first transatlantic telegraph cable.
There are few surface remains. The retaining wall to the site shows evidence of having been incorporated into other structures that have now gone. The underground chamber located within the fenced area houses the remains of a later turbine within what appears to be an adapted earlier wheel pit. Remains of structures can be seen along the edge of the Angidy River.
There are likely to be remains of underground structures on the site, as evidenced by the structures visible along the edge of the river and in the underground chamber. However, two small trial trenches excavated to 1.50 metres deep, prior to digging a soak away trench failed to reveal any structural remains. In the area where the trench was dug the levels of the site have been made up with rubble and tarmac.
A leaflet has been produced describing the Angidy Trail walk (a circular route) linking the industrial remains in the Angidy Valley, including Lower Wireworks with Abbey Tintern Furnace, Tintern Limekilns, Tintern Abbey and Abbey Mill