THE DOWLAIS IRON COMPANY IN THE IRON INDUSTRY, 1800-18501 THERE has been some difference of opinion concerning the nature of the relationships between companies in the iron industry in the period 1800-50. T. S. Ashton, in Iron and Steel in the Industrial Revolution, noted the 'numerous and diverse forms in which the corporate sense of the early industrialists found expression',2 2 whereas J. P. Addis, writing of the Cyfarthfa Iron Company, con- cludes that 'the relationship which existed among South Wales iron producers was one of unrestrained competition'. It might be useful to study the relationships existing in the south Wales iron industry through the records of another iron company in the area in order to discover whether Dr. Addis's researches on the Cyfarthfa Company do permit the south Wales iron industry to be set apart from the general pattern noted by Professor Ashton. This problem has been studied here in the records of the Dowlais Iron Company (D.I.C.) deposited in the Glamorgan Record Office. 4 The interaction of the D.I.C. with its neighbours in Merthyr Tydfil-the Penydarren, Plymouth and Cyfarthfa companies- forms the core of this study. It is not, however, the whole of it; while Merthyr Tydfil was the most important single centre, it did not contain all of the south Wales iron industry. The nature of the relationships especially between the four neighbouring works in Merthyr Tydfil, but also among the producers in the rest of south Wales, may be discussed as it emerges from the records of the D.I.C. in the period of its rise to pre-eminence in Merthyr Tydfil and south Wales.6 The D.I.C. records permit three questions to be raised. First, to what extent, if at all, did companies in the iron industry form interdependent units of production? Secondly, was there a conflict between the selling policies of the Cyfarthfa Company and of the other companies, or was the difference in marketing policy rather between large and small companies? Thirdly, could it be claimed that similar labour problems created a community of interest? 1 This study is a shortened version of a B.A. dissertation presented to the University of Nottingham in July 1970. My thanks are due to the members of the Department of Economic and Social History at Nottingham, and also to the staff of the Glamorgan Record Office. 1 T. S. Ashton, Iron and Steel in the Industrial Revolution (1924), p. 185. J. P. Addis, The Crawshay Dynasty (1957), pp. 64-65. For a discussion of, and extracts from, these records, see M. Elsas (ed.), Iron in the Making-Dowlais Iron Company Letters, 1782-1860 (1960). The D.I.C. accounted for 23.8 per cent of the total shipments on the Glamorganshire canal in 1820, and 40.1 per cent in 1840.