with them it mentioned the firms of the several directors of the Bank of England.3 One of the directors, Alderman William Thompson, M.P., was a proprietor of the Tredegar Iron Company.4) Thirdly, the episode is of considerable regional historical significance: William Crawshay, junior's published complaints that the Bank was underselling and infringing its charter by engaging in industry are a reminder of the ironmasters' attitudes to competition; and the social aspects of the Bank's tenure of the Cwmavon Works, which occasioned much correspondence in The Morning Advertiser at the time, have been the subject of detailed study.5 The background of the events discussed in this paper was the financial crisis of 1847-48. Greatly encouraged by the low interest rates charged by the Bank of England, there was a vast amount of speculation, particularly in railway projects. Already by the summer of 1845, however, some people had concluded that the amount of speculation was excessive, and various events followed which led to tighter money conditions. There was legislation obliging 10 per cent (rather than 5 per cent as previously) of the proposed capital for any railway project to be deposited at the Bank of England before the bill for the enterprise could go before parliament. The poor corn harvest of 1846 and the failure of the Irish potato crop led to a greatly increased importation of grain and thus contributed to the net outflow of bullion. A reduction in 1845 and even more in 1846 in the supply of raw cotton from North America caused shortages of the material, high prices of cotton goods and unemployment in Lancashire. During the early months of 1847 the Bank of England pursued a restrictive policy, raising Bank Rate and in April commencing to ration rigorously the bills of exchange it was prepared to discount. The latter measure reduced the loss of gold from the United Kingdom, and it then appeared that the reserve would be adequate to meet the outflow as a result of high-priced raw cotton-which, according to Clapham, was 'the only drain probable so soon as harvest and corn import prospects became good'. By July 1847 in fact the bullion reserve in the Issue Department of the Bank of England was fairly adequate, but the reserve of the Banking Department was small-too small for the Bank's comfort as a lender in the ensuing period, when important firms which were engaged in the corn trade failed. 3 Bank of England. Bristol Branch Letter Book. London to Bristol, 4, 23 June 1847. Mbid.. 15 June 1847. 6 P. W. Jackson, 'The interaction of industry and organised religion in a changing culture pattern' (unpublished M.A. thesis, University of Wales, 1957).