Trostre Works Tinplate Heritage Museum

On 20th April, 2017 members of Llanelli Community Heritage made a return visit to the Trostre Cottage Museum at Tata’s steelworks in Llanelli. Keith Morgan, curator of the museum, said that the farmhouse, Maes-ar-Dafen Fach dating from before 1787, was not all that it seemed.

When the Trostre steelworks was constructed in 1947 by the Steel Company of Wales the house was a ruin with only its outer walls standing; the management wanted a new building to match the brand new steelworks. The aim was to provide a twentieth century reception and meetings centre in an early nineteenth century Welsh cottage. Reconstruction and restoration of the building was done using materials matching the originals as closely as possible.

The result is two charming beautifully proportioned reception rooms on the ground floor furnished with antiques and curiosities, and a third room housing models and various exhibits. Among them is an impressive working model of a cross compound steam engine depicting a section of the works with flywheel, roughing and finishing furnaces as well as doubling and finishing shears. Constructed from scrap material to a scale of 1:12 by P.R. Gillard while he was a tin millman at the works, it took seven years of his spare time to complete. There is also a half-inch scale model of a single cylinder 600HP Uniflow steam engine, constructed by W. Hopkins, a doubler employed in the mill department of the works. Other items include prototype models and equipment used in the trade. The document archive on the first floor contains many examples of photographs, maps, drawings, deeds and paintings.

Outside are heavier items of equipment including a complete old-type two-high pack-mill, a unique Millbrook rotary pickling machine with four arms, a small size wrought iron annealing cover and stand, a hand annealing charger, a single sweep Abercarn type tinpot and a complete Head Wrightson hot dip tinning machine.

Thanks to the foresight of J.F.S. Gazard, assistant general manager of the Steel Company of Wales, Tinplate Division, and the meticulous research of W. Hodges, head of the Estates Department, Llanelli now has a fine museum with numerous artefacts and an extensive archive dedicated to the history of Tinopolis.

The Trostre Works Tinplate Heritage Museum is not generally open to the public, but visits can be arranged through the curator Keith Morgan:

TATA Steel
Trostre Works,
SA14 9SD

Caroline Streek, LCH Secretary, presented a “footman” to the museum. This belonged to her great grandmother, Hannah Adam Edwards who lived in Maenchlohog, Pembrokeshire in a house which had formerly been “The Swan” inn. Caroline’s mother, Josephine (1913-2009) remembered sitting on the “footman” by the fire when she was a small child.

The “footman” is a British term for a metal stand, usually of polished steel or brass, either oblong or oval in shape, for keeping plates and dishes warm in front of a dining room fire. Although it is still in occasional use, it is now chiefly regarded as an ornament or collectable antique. The derivation of the word is probably linked to the human footman, a male servant, who could have been responsible for keeping dishes warm.