It’s a select list which includes the Domesday Book, the Death Warrant of Charles I and the papers of Winston Churchill. Now, the unique survival of 8,000 engineering drawings from the Neath Abbey Ironworks which are held in West Glamorgan Archives has been recognised by inscription in the United Kingdom National Register of the UNESCO Memory of the World Programme, a list of documentary heritage which holds cultural significance specific to the UK. The award was made on June 19th at a reception in Edinburgh hosted by the Scottish Council on Archives and the UNESCO Memory of the World UK Committee.
The drawings in the collection range in date from 1792 to 1882 and are detailed and finely drawn, reflecting the high standards of work for which the foundry was famous. The collection includes plans for mine pumping engines, for ships and railway locomotives. The Neath Abbey Iron Company was in the forefront of development of beam engines for the South Wales coalfield, built its first railway locomotive in 1829 for use on the Sirhowy tramroad in Monmouthshire and its first marine engines in 1822 for the paddle steamer ‘Glamorgan’. Kim Collis, County Archivist, said, “The collection is a rare survival which shows the contribution of South Wales to Britain’s industrial revolution and to the spread of British mining technology to the rest of the world. The UNESCO inscription will publicise the collection more widely to a national and international audience.”
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