Swansea Copper Stories
The Hafod-Morfa site provided a variety of livelihoods to the community. There were a variety of jobs and positions, and workers could often expect to do a variety of different work at the same site. Knowledge and professions were often handed down to each generation. Various specialised jobs existed for the processes roasting the hot molten metal, rolling the copper into sheets and hammering them into shape. But this could also include working at the laboratory to test the purity of the copper, administration, or looking after the famous Musgrave engine which powered the site for much of the twentieth century. The site also supported a number of other professions such as carpenters, blacksmiths, fitters, and even someone to collect urine to clean the copper sheets. Through daily routines, common practices, and anecdotes, these interviews give an interesting glimpse onto the lives of these workers.
Was it hard work?
Matthias Dixon talks about what it was like to work at the copperworks in the mid 20th century, and mentions the advice given by his father.
Were there any stern managers?
Ray Trotman describes his experience with management as the copper works begun to face more stringent competition in the mid 20th century.
What was it like to operate the ferry?
Alfred George Clarke talks about his job of running the White Rock ferry across the river, he took it over from his father in 1927.
Using urine to clean copper sheets
Bill Ball describes how a lady would collect urine from Hafod to clean the copper sheets.
Which furnaces did you work with?
Matthias Dixon discusses various furnaces he worked with and jobs he had at the works during the mid 20th century.
What was it like during the depression?
Matthias Dixon describes how he was unable to work for much of the year during the 1920s and 1930s due to seasonal brass orders. 'Pegging' means unemployed.
Were the workers protected?
Bill Ball explains how they used to have to supply their own clothing, and the conditions they would face.
How did you empty the furnaces?
Bill Ball describes how a team of men would empty the furnace, and how each man would need a breather to get away from the fumes.
What was the pay like?
Matthias Dixon describes how they were paid at the beginning of the war, what their average pay was and what this meant for the workers.
Who was 'becca pee'?
Alfred George Clarke describes how urine would be collected in the area to clean the copper sheets.
Fetching jugs of beer for the furnacemen
Mrs Clarke talks about how she used to fetch jugs of beer for the workmen to help them cope with the heat.
How did you roll the copper?
Matthias Dixon talks in depth about the process of rolling copper and brass at the Hafod in the 1940s.
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