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STATISTICS OF THE IRON TRADE. A vcry valuable and important paper on this sub- ject appears in the last number of the Mining Review. It opens with a statement of the peculiarities of the three classes, viz. Cast or pig iron," "wrought or malleable iron," and "steel;" and then pro- ceeds to furnish a brief account of its manufacture in Great Britain. This is accompanied by a table, showing the quantity of iron produced, and the average yearly price, including the districts of Wales, Shropshire, Staffordshire, and Scotland, during the years 1720 to 1S37, as nearly as can be ascertained; from which we extract the I*ollowiii.- A. D. Produce. Tons. 1720 10,000 1750 22,000") 1 ?.r<9 06,000 s from 85 furnaces. 1794 100,000} 1796 125,000 1-21 181, per ton. 1828 703,184 296 81. to 11 10*. 1830 678,417 376 5/. 15s. to 5/, 10s. 1836 82B,331 3S4 71. to 101. 1837 817,430 380 Wi. to 7l. 10s. "The greatest quantity of iron made in one year previously to 1836, was in 1S2S, and out of the whole quantity made in Great Britain that year, 279,512 tons were the produce of South Wales, so that the make in South Wales had increased 75,407 tons in 1836, as compared with 1828, as will be seen bv reference to the following table, containing a state- ment of the number of tons of iron made in that dis- trict alone in 1836. In Scotland the increase has been verv remarkable; in 1828 the total make was 37,700 tons, and in 1836, it was 89,000 tons, chiefly owing to the hot-blast mode of smelting being" generally adopted." TABLE showing the produce of South Wales in the vear 1836:— Dowlais. 53,450 Rails, bars, and rods. Nantyglo 30,273 Ditto. Beaufort 17,723 Forge and foundry pigs. Cyfarthfa 29,800 Rails, bars, and rods. Hirwain 7,933 Ditto and pig iron. Plyinouth 22,863 Rails, bars, and rods. Tredegar '26,280 Ditto. Sirhowey 18,708 Forge pigs. EbbwVale. 14,607 Hails, bars, and rods. Varteg 16,623 Rails, bars, rods, and pigs. Blaenavon. 15,466 Foundry and forge pigs and best bars. Ahcrsychan 15,127 Rails, bars, and pigs. Penydarrcn 14,941 Ditto. Aberdare 13,644 Bars and pigs. Clydach 10,602 Ditto. Rhymney 9,518 Foundry pigs. Blaina 9,119 Castings and pigs. Pentwyn 8,857 Ditto. Pontypool 7,112 Tin-pltte bars. Coal brook Valc 4,014 Castings and pigs. Cwiii Avon. 3,975 Tin-plate bars. Maesteg 3,626.. Forge and foundry pigs. ^eatli Abbey. • 3,269 Castings and pigs. Pentyrcli 1,790 Tin-plate bars. Gadlys 1,549 Foundry pigs. Total 354,919 tons. The following shows the increase in the exports of irou, extracted from official returns A. D. Tons. 1767 11.000 1832 146,769i 41 It will be observed that the highest price of bar- iron was in the year I SOO, when £19 10s. per ton was the price obtained and the lowest price was in 1831, when the same description of iron was sold at the almost ruinously low price of X4 15s. and £5 per ton. In 1S31 the iron trade was at its lowest point of depression. The failure of the many bubble schemes which for some time previously had been afloat, caused the demand suddenly to cease, and com- pelled the iron-masters to resort to the severest economy in every department of their works. Tne use of cinder as a means of reducing cost ca me gener- allv into adoption at this time, and a great deal of bail and brittle iron was thrown upon the market in consequence. Over production, therefore, was the chief cause of this disastrous state of the iron trade at this period. No sooner had the fact been ascertained that the manufacture of iron was attended with con- siderable profit, than capital to an immense amount had been embarked in iroll works. New furnaces arose in all quarters—the supply became greater than thedemand; the price kept falling, until the general failure of the various schemes ill 1831, added to the difficulties which for a long time pressed upon the trade, caused such a falling off in the demand, that little less than absolute ruin seemed to be the inevi- table issue. The temptation which high prices afford- ed was very great; almost princely fortunes had been made in a comparatively short time. The numerous railways then in contemplation, held out prospects of almost an unlimited demand—iron was daily being applied to new purposes- steam navigation was greatly on the increase, and every thing seemed to indicate an extraordinary prosperity to be the result of this state of the country—but, alas bitter disappointment fell on all those who relied upon the continuance of high prices. The experience derived in 1831 has had a benefi- cial tendency on tlie whole many and great improve- ments, tending to cheapen the article of iron, were introduced at that time, and the country has derived considerable benefit therefrom. "The immense tracts of mineral property in this kingdom, unopened and unworked, affords the best possible evidence that the supply of iron could be still increased, so as to meet the demands of the whole world, and that capital sufficient for the purpose is to be found, there can be no doubt. "Theadvance in scientific knowledge which has characterised late years, has led to many important experiments in the smelting of iron, tending not onlv to the. rodnetiof f'1\<:t but ;n"I- ,:1' duality. The use of hot-blast, in the various districts is an important feature, inasmuch as the quantity pro- duced from the same materials, by using the hot bla ;t, is increased, svhile for many purposes, p :nicu- iarly for fine castings, the quality is improved. For machinery purposes and heavy work, it is true hot- blast iron will not answer, being too soft and "tender to bear any great strain, but when mixed with cold- blast iron it produces exceedingly good and strong castings. Old cast scrap iron may be used to great advantage as a mixture with hot-blast pigs. Mr Crane's process of smelting with the anthracite or stone coal, and for which lie has obtained a patent, will, if generally adopted where that mineral abounds, produce important changes in the value of mineral property. Much, however, remains to be done before complete success can be expected to attend any new means of smelting iron, and many prejudices will have to be surmounted before capital to any extent will be embarked in carrying out the advantages which arc likely to result therefrom. The present state of the iron trade is very en- couraging. The demand for railroad iron, as well as for all other descriptions, is considerable, and fully sufficient to justify the continuance of present prices, which are ufficiently high to satisfy the manufacturer, and at the same time, are not so high as to preclude the use of iron for all ordinary purposes. The wise measures which the iron masters adopted last year (when the demand gradually fell off in conse- quence of the state of a ffairs in America,) pre- vented any very great reduction in the value of iron; for by passing resolutions to blow out their furnaces, and thus reduce the make, a much healthier state of the iron trade was secured than could by pos- sibility otherwise have been expected and, upon the resumption of American business, prices generally rose to their present very satisfactory height. It is to be hoped that the experience of the past will be a beacon for the future, and that the foolish attempts of some of the smaller makers to advance the present prices will be resisted by the good sense of their more wealthy brethren." We have omitted in this abridgement all notice of some very valuable tables; and should recommend all who are deeply interested in the subject to suppiy themselves with the paper in its complete form.






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