By Edgar Jones
This can be the tale of an incredible organization. It describes the transformation of a small partnership, shaped in 1759, into a global staff, the size of whose diversified actions has demanded the production of a multi-divisional constitution, supported through many professional departments. the most longeval of Britain's present production businesses, GKN's heritage could be interpreted as a distinct and revealing perception into Britain's business event over previous centuries.
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Additional resources for A History of GKN: Volume 1 Innovation and Enterprise, 1759–1918
The noise of the hammers, rolling mills, forges and bellows incessantly din and crash upon the ear. Bars and pigs of iron are continually thrown up to the hugely accumulating heaps that threaten to choke up every avenue of access ... The machinery of this establishment is gigantic; and that part of it, worked by water, among the most scientifically curious and mechanically powerful to whom modern improvement has given birth. His vivid impressions were matched pictorially in the Views of South Wales (1817-19) by Thomas Hornor, whose watercolours of the town's rolling mills revealed the searing glare of iron passing through the rolls.
Henry Murton recollected in 1873 that his old friends, in times of water shortages, had been called upon to tread the inside of the waterwheel. 84 The capricious nature of rainfall precluded consistently high productivity; the limitations of the Dowlais Brook prevented the addition of tilt hammers or rolling mills powered by water, the construction of a second blast furnace in 1781 intensifying the problem. After Thomas Guest took over the management in 1786, a refinery and a foundry were added,85 and Dowlais could accurately be described as a 'works'.
Dowlais then had the distinction of being the oldest of the quartet, the pioneer on whose success the others had taken the courage to begin. WAR AND TECHNICAL INNOVATION How, then, did these various ironworks fare during the period from 1759 to 1793? First, a distinct correlation existed between war (with the extra demand it created for munitions) and the establishment of these works. 110 Hirwaun, Dowlais and Plymouth had all been founded during the Seven Years War (1756-63), which also encouraged the setting up of Cyfarthfa.
A History of GKN: Volume 1 Innovation and Enterprise, 1759–1918 by Edgar Jones