Copperworks Discovery Project

We are very pleased to announce that we are currently delivering a new history and archaeology project at the world renowned Hafod-Morfa Copperworks, once the largest copperworks in the world.

Hafod-Works-bridge-1810-engraving View of the Hafod Copperworks – from George Grant Francis (1881), The Smelting of Copper in the Swansea District, from the time of Elizabeth to the present day

During the mid-19th Century the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks employed over 1000 people. Situated in the Lower Swansea Valley, this area at that time accounted for 90% of the world’s copper production. This was made possible by a abundant supply of coal in the Swansea Valley, brought down via the late 18th century canals, and the excellent facilities for shipping, which allowed the import of copper ore from Cornwall, North Wales, South America, South Africa and Australia.

Copperworks in Lower Swansea Valley 1865 Le Tour du Monde Copperworks in the Lower Swansea Valley 1865 – Le Tour Du Monde

The Hafod Copperworks was established in 1808-9 by the Cornish entrepreneur John Vivian. In 1835 a Cornish firm, Williams, Foster & Co., opened the Morfa works on adjacent land. The works was initially a rolling plant for making bars and plates from copper ingots brought from the nearby Rose Works but smelting is believed to have started at the same time. Both the Hafod and Morfa works amalgamated in 1924 and was subsequently operated by Yorkshire Imperial Metals until it closed in 1980, when it was the last operating copperworks in Swansea.

1919Ordnance Survey 3rd Edition 1919 (West Glamorgan Archives)

At least fifteen significant structures, in varying degrees of condition, survive across the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks site. These include the rolling mill (LB 16878) now used as the museum stores, the laboratory building (LB 11690) and the former Morfa Powerhouse and later Yorkshire Imperial Metals canteen (LB 11691). The Hafod Limekiln (11694), Copper Slag Abutment, Pier and Canal Boundary Walls (LB 11692 and 11693). The Vivian Engine House (LB 11695), the Chimney (LB 11696) west of the Vivian Engine House and the Boundary wall for the Hafod Copperworks Canal Docks (LB16881). Finally, the in-situ Musgrave Engine and Rolls (SAMGm483) in the Musgrave Engine House and Chimney (LB 11697).

We need you! 

We are looking for Volunteers to become a part of this exciting new project. No prior experience required, just come along and have fun!

We have opportunities to get involved with historical and archaeological research workshops to explore the copperwork’s past. Some of the themes we will be covering include the history of the copperworks and copper working, the historic environment sector in Wales and archaeological and historical investigative techniques.

We will then be offering the history and archaeology workshops throughout January, February and March at Swansea University, West Glamorgan Archives, Hafod Community Centre and on-site at the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks.

For further information please check out the events calendar.

You can also download a flyer here Copperworks Discovery Project Flyer Welsh / Copperworks Discovery Project Flyer English or check back in here or on the Copperworks website ( for regular updates to the programme.

To register your interest and find out more please email Richard Lewis at (please write The Copperworks Discovery Project in the subject field) or ring 07834 715033.

This project is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the City and County of Swansea as part of the wider regeneration at the Copperworks.


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