Ebbw vale

A momentous journey
Interview with Mr. David Chadwick
Ultimatum offered to the Ebbw Vale Company
Agreement with the Ebbw Vale Company
End of Operation

In the preceding Chapter I have referred to Mr. George Parry, who was furnace manager at the Ebbw Vale Works in 1857. In that year he applied for a patent having for its object the decarburation of crude iron, by blowing forcibly down upon it in a closed chamber without fuel, instead of blowing up through it, as in my process; this patent, however, was not completed. In 1861, as already stated, Mr. Parry took another patent for making carburet of iron in a small blast furnace, the iron so produced containing some portion of all the ordinary constituents of pig iron, but differing in their proportions; in consequence of this difference it was proposed to convert this iron into steel by blowing air up through the fluid in a closed vessel, and to make it into ingots precisely in the manner directed in my patents. I think it was quite natural that efforts at competition on these and other lines should be made persistently; my process was advancing with rapid strides in every State in Europe, and immense profits were being realised in this country by the proprietors of ironworks who had taken licenses under my patents; in fact, thousands of tons of Bessemer steel rails had been sold at £18 to £20 per ton. Some two or three years had glided away after the date of Mr. Parry's second patent, which had been quite forgotten by me. I had at this time (about 1864) occasion to go to Birmingham on business, and had left Euston at 9 P.M. I was quietly reading my newspaper in the snug corner of a first-class compartment, containing only two other occupants beside myself. These were two young gentlemen, who appeared much elated at some success, or contemplated success -- it might be a race, a Stock Exchange bargain, or any other matter of ordinary interest. Being quite young men they were naturally very enthusiastic, and somewhat loud in their conversation, which rather disturbed my reading. After some remarks by one of them, the other exclaimed, in a very loud tone, "I wonder what the devil Bessemer will say?" There could be no mistake as to this plain reference to me, since, with the exception of the members of my family, I alone answered to that name. It then occurred to me for the first time that all this excited language and jubilation had some reference to me; I had not the remotest idea as to what had previously been said, or to what it referred. By this time we had reached Watford, and as the train went on I kept my paper before me, but could not prevent my attention being directed to the lively sallies of these young men. Little by little, I became conscious that the exciting cause of this boisterous hilarity was some new joint-stock company that was to be floated in two or three days. It might be a gas company, a brewery, or anything else, for up to this point I had no indication of its nature, and only wondered why they should question as to how Bessemer would receive the news. But one at a time words were dropped that startled me not a little, and riveted my attention to their conversation, which was very much veiled, as though the scheme, whatever it might be, were to be kept a profound secret at present from the outer world. But here and there some casual word or two was dropped, about mines and works, and a journey up from Wales, and what David Chadwick had said about all the shares being taken up in two days for certain. Thus I soon began to grasp the meaning of the fragments I had heard, and to fit these disjointed sentences together; but there was no absolute certainty that I had guessed the true meaning.

We had by this time arrived at Leighton, and my fellow-travellers got out, as I supposed, to take some refreshment, but the train went on without them, and I was left alone to think over this curious incident. Then I remembered that Mr. Joseph Robinson, the manager of the Ebbw Vale Company's London offices, lived at Leighton. These young men might probably be his sons; and this formed another startling confirmation of the theory I had arrived at, viz., that the Ebbw Vale Iron Works were going, in a few days, to be formed into a joint-stock company, to take over the works and mines and the other property of the present owners, and that Mr. David Chadwick, whose name I distinctly heard, was the financial agent employed to form the company. I was not long in realising all that this meant to me, and I saw that it was necessary to take immediate steps to protect myself. Hence I became very impatient to arrive at the next station, which was Blisworth, and there I got out. It was now about 11 P.M., and the next up train was nearly due. I had by this time worked myself into a considerable state of excitement, and paced the station platform so rapidly as to attract the attention of the stationmaster, who asked me if anything were wrong, or if he could do anything for me. I said, "No; I have heard some news on my way down which renders my immediate return to London advisable." The up train soon arrived, and conveyed me back to Euston. I took a cab to Denmark Hill, where I arrived about 2 A.M., and somewhat alarmed my wife by my return

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