King Copper

South Wales and the Copper Trade 1584-1895

Ronald Rees

King Copper

Ronald Rees

Distributed for University of Wales Press

179 pages | 20 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2000
Paper $18.00 ISBN: 9780708324912 Published April 2012 For sale in North and South America, Australia, and New Zealand only

For the whole of the eighteenth century and much of the nineteenth, a belt of coastal smelters—using local coals and ores from Cornwall, Cuba, and Chile—produced virtually all of Britain’s copper, and much of the world’s. Copper brought considerable wealth to Swansea, the center of the industry, and to several neighboring towns. But there was a price for the prosperity. The billowing clouds of toxic, foul-smelling smoke that copper production also produced ruined crops and killed livestock, setting farmers against townsmen and the Welsh-speaking Cymry Cymraeg against their Anglo-Welsh cousins. King Copper is the first history to document the social and environmental impact of the copper industry in south Wales during this period.

List of illustrations

1. Creating the Kingdom
2. Shipping and the Ports
3. The Copper Works Towns
4. The Uneasy Crown
5. The Great Copper Trials
6. Copper Smoke and Public Health
7. The Nedd Valley Disputes
8. The Cwmafan Disputes
9. The Decline of the Kingdom

Review Quotes
Welsh History Review

“This is a most impressive book that provides a concise and lucid general account of the copper industry in south Wales. . . . King Copper is a stimulating study grounded in careful scholarship and written in a lively, confident style. It throws much new light on a vital dimension of South Wales’s industrial history and for this reason the book deserves to be widely read.”

Business History

“A highly readable account.”

BBC History Magazine

“The story of King Copper is well documented in a new book of that name by Ronald Rees. The story he tells has remarkable parallels with the modern tale of the British nuclear industry: first a military motive, then official lies, followed by a cry that criticism jeopardises jobs and wealth.”

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