WILLIAM NATHANIEL JONES

INDUSTRIALIST

Lieutenant Colonel William Nathaniel Jones (20 March 185824 May 1934) was one of Ammanford's grandees who made his name and wealth by developing industry in the area. Despite his impressive military title he was not a military man, having been given the rank when Lord Dynevor, the Lord Lieutenant of Carmarthenshire, put him in charge of the Home Guard during Word War One. He was a prominent local auctioneer and business man and was briefly the Liberal MP for Carmarthenshire after a by-election held on 28th June 1928 saw him defeat his Labour opponent by a mere 47 votes. He was to enjoy the status of a Member of Parliament for just a year, however, when he was defeated by Labour in the 1929 general election held on 30th June.

In business, he was a director of the Ammanford Gas Company, Tirydail Tinplate Eorks, Ammanford, Tirydail Colliery, the Duke Anthracite Collieries Ltd, and the owner of Birchgrove Steelworks, Swansea

In 1882 the Dyffryn Estate in Tirydail, near the railway station, was placed on the market at auction in ten lots and Messrs Elias, Phillips and Colonel Jones headed a company who bought lots 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8 to the east of the river Loughor. though not initially the mansion that went with the land. The estate and its mansion dated back to the early 1700s and is believed to have belonged to the Powell family. We know that the owners of nearby Myddynfych farm had moved to Dyffryn in 1756 as documented in a CADW survey of 1994 (CADW is the body charged with preserving Welsh ancient monuments 'cadw' means ' to keep ' in Welsh):

"The house [ie Myddynfych] is mentioned in a poem of the late C14 and the descendants of Gruffydd ap Sir Elidir were here from c1400 to the C17. Walter Lloyd, gent. was owner in the later C17, before it passed in the early C18 to John Jones (d. 1756), son of J. Jones of Coalbrook, Pontyberem. After 1756 the house was tenanted, as the family moved to Dyffryn, nearby." (CADW record number 14811)

Colonel Jones used the newly acquired land for heavy industrial development, building Abelash Tinplate Works in 1889 and Ammanford Gas Works. Tirydail colliery was built in 1895 to add to his industrial holdings, closing in 1927 in the aftermath of the 1926 general strike.

Arial view of Tirydail/Aberlash taken 24/6/1964 with much of the nineteenth century history still intact. The two cylindrical gasholders of Ammanford Gasworks can be seen just to the right of centre, with the long building of former Tirydail Tinplate works just to their right. Dyffryn Mansion can be seen just across the river, top left. The horizontal line of trees in the centre marks the river Loughor flowing right to left. The houses built for Colonel Jones's workers are at the bottom right. For the nostalgic, the Regal Ballroom is the long building at the bottom left. Tirydail Colliery and Aberlash are at the top right hand corner of the photo.

This heavy industry (and, one would guess, dirty and noisy industry as well), caused friction between Colonel Jones and the owners of the nearby Dyffryn Mansion and a lengthy legal battle ensued. In settlement of the dispute Tirydail Tinplate Company bought out the owner of Dyffryn Mansion with Colonel Jones himself taking up residence there in 1892. Thus an old gentry house passed into the ownership of a noveau-rich industrialist, a process that had been happening since the early 19th century as industry replaced agriculture as a source of wealth and power.

Dyffryn House in 1919. It was purchased by Col Nathaniel William Jones in 1892 after he had successfully driven out the previous occupants with the noise from his tinplate works in Tirydail.

Colonel Jones also used other land around the tinplate works for housing to be built for his workforce. Three of the streets built were named after his children, presumably to gain for his family what the rich believe is immortality (and the poor know is vanity):

Norman Road : after his eldest son Charles Norman Jones 1883 - 1928. He emigrated to America in 1906, served in the US Air Force in the First World War and died in Maryland, USA, in 1928 aged 45.
Harold Street : after his son William Harold Jones 1886 - 1973. Harold followed in his his father's footsteps to become an auctioneer with offices in Wind Street. He was later appointed Register of Marriages, Births and Deaths for the area. After the family severed connections with Dyffryn House he moved to Llandybie until his death in 1973, aged 87.
Florence Road : after his daughter Florence Margaret Jones 1890 - 1976. She married a local barrister who became Clerk of the Peace and Clerk to Carmarthenshire County Council.

When Ammanford Urban District Council was created in 1903, William Nathaniel Jones became its first chairman. Jones died suddenly at Llanwrtyd Wells on 24 May 1934. He died intestate, leaving an estate of gross value £75,950. According to Bank of England figures the pound in 1934 was equivalent to £35.56 so his estate was worth £2,700,782 in today's terms.

Date this page last updated: October 1, 2010