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From their beginning, the coal-fired ironworks of northern Glamorgan and Monmouthshire were big enterprises. The Cyfarthfa ironworks, northwest of Merthyr Tydfil was established in 1765 by Anthony Bacon and William Browning and Watkin George. Richard Crawshay (1739-1810) leased the works from Bacon's family in 1786. He had much knowledge and experience of the British iron business. In 1794, he became the works owner. By the end of 1780, Cyfarthfa was producing over 2,000 tonnes of bar iron annually. The railway boom helped profitability after 1820. By 1840 there were eleven blast furnaces, one hundred puddling furnaces and six rolling mills. The works developed a reputation for good quality naval cannon; Admiral Nelson visited the works in 1802. In 1803, 1500 people were employed at the Cyfarthfa Ironworks, and it was said that it was the biggest ironworks in the world. After 1810, following the death of his brother Richard, William Crawshay managed the works with his son William II, whose son, Robert Thomson Crawshay, took over in 1847. In addition to the Cyfarthfa Works, the Crawshay bought Hirwaun Ironworks (operated 1817-1850s) and the Forest Iron Company. On Robert's his death in 1879, the Cyfarthfa works was converted to a steel production plant by his son, William Thompson Crawshay. Cyfarthfa closed in 1921; dismantling commenced in 1928. The fanmily's main seat was Cyfarthfa Castle, but it also bought estates at Hilston Park, Monmouthshire, and Caversham Park.