Swansea Copper Research Project visits Australia

September 13, 2012

A major research project led by Professor Chris Evans at the University of Glamorgan is to visit South Australia to hold an international workshop on the subject of ‘Swansea Copper’.

‘World of Copper’ is an eighteen-month research project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, which looks at Swansea’s world-renowned copper industry as an example of globalisation in the nineteenth century.

Professor Chris Evans

The workshop will be in Burra, South Australia (24-26 September), which was the first major copper mining settlement in Australia in the 1840s with Welsh copper smelters migrating all the way from Swansea.

Professor Evans commented, “We’re holding this event in Burra for a good reason: the imprint of Welsh industry is there for all to see. There’s a Llanelli Street there and even a neighbourhood called Llwchwr!”

The workshop will be an international gathering, with Welsh involvement from Glamorgan, Swansea and Cardiff universities, and the National Waterfront Museum.

Between 1830 and 1870 the Swansea district was the hub of the world’s first globally integrated heavy industry. Swansea’s copper smelters, who usually accounted for between 40 and 50 per cent of world output in these decades, drew ore from Australia, Chile, Cuba and elsewhere.

‘Swansea copper’ was a truly global phenomenon, involving mining and metal processing complexes on different continents and the mobilisation of capital, labour and technology across immense distances.

Professor Evans added, “Swansea copper was a strikingly early example of transnationalism at work. It speaks to the ‘new global history’ that has been such a feature of historical scholarship in recent years.

“We’ll be tracing how the Industrial Revolution became a global phenomenon in the nineteenth century, in this case using technologies developed in Wales.”

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