In the first half of the nineteenth century Llanelli was a coal mining and copper smelting town. Dafen and Morfa Tinplate Works opened in 1848 and 1852 respectively, the first hint of where the town's future lay.
The next two works to open were quite different - they were wrought iron works, an industry that had died out in the town at the beginning of the century. The Nevill family, owners of Llanelly Copperworks and most of the local collieries established both these works in the grounds of Glanmor or Field House, which was situated between what is now Nevill Street and Paddock Street. It is hard to believe that the land each side of Station Road was once lawns and orchards!
Old Lodge Works, named after the entrance lodge to Glanmor or Field House, opened in 1854, on the site occupied by Old Lodge Flats, to produce bar iron and wrought iron plates. Much of its output was sold to Richard Nevill's Wern Foundry in Ann Street. In the 1860s and 1870s the works supplied iron to the ship building yard of William Henry Nevill (Richard's brother), located in Cambrian Street.
Marshfield Works opened on the opposite side of Station Road in 1863 to produce sheet iron for sale to tinplate works in south Wales and to works in Birmingham. The names Marshfield and Lakefield are reminders of how wet this low-lying pasture land once was.
In 1868 Marshfield Works added a tinplate making department to use some of the iron sheets it produced. Both works experienced problems in the economic depression of the 1870s. Old Lodge Works closed in 1876 and when Marshfield Works changed ownership in 1879 it was renamed the Western Works. Two attempts in the 1880s to reopen Old Lodge Works failed within a short time. Finally, the works was converted into a tinplate works in 1889.
For fifty years, visitors to Llanelli arriving by train traveled up Station Road, flanked by these two tinplate works. Locomotives shunted wagons of steel bars and vans of tinplate across the road and from the pavement a glimpse could be seen of the rolling mills. Visitors knew they had arrived in Tinopolis!
Over seventy old tinplate works across south Wales closed when strip mills and electrolytic tinning arrived in Britain from the USA. Old Lodge Works closed in 1941 after Ebbw Vale opened, and Western Works closed in 1953 when Trostre opened.
The sites of both works were redeveloped for housing in the 1950s and today one would never guess that Station Road was once a centre of the tinplate industry were it not for the commemorative blue plaques that mark their sites .