By Edgar Jones
This can be the tale of a big company. It describes the transformation of a small partnership, shaped in 1759, into a world workforce, the dimensions of whose diversified actions has demanded the construction of a multi-divisional constitution, supported through many professional departments. the most longeval of Britain's present production businesses, GKN's background should be interpreted as a different and revealing perception into Britain's business event over earlier centuries.
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Additional resources for A History of GKN: Volume 1 Innovation and Enterprise, 1759–1918
105 The Penydarren Ironworks which lay close to Dowlais but nearer to Merthyr and on the other side of the Brook, had been established in 1784 by Thomas Homfray and his three sons, Jeremiah, Thomas and Samuel,106 encouraged to move to South Wales from Brosele&, by John Guest 'when he saw that the iron business was expanding'. 1 7 Finally, and by 1793 most important of all, there was Cyfarthfa. Its first blast furnace had been erected in 1765 under the direction of Anthony Bacon (d. 1786), who was then in partnership with William Brownrigg.
Richard Webb, son of Nathaniel, observed in 1777 that the business at Dowlais had been from the outset91 'carried on in a very dangerous manner and became very profitable to the partners ... and continued in such as flourishing state and condition until and at the time of the death of the said Nathaniel Webb  and for several years afterwards'. As a result, Merthyr, which before industrialisation had been 'a small village, inhabited by shepherds and farmers',92 grew with the features of an American goldrush settlement.
Nettlefold (c. , ::i. INTRODUCTION xxxvii subsequently took over. There was a considerable measure of geographical contiguity about the three companies which merged to form GKN: both the Dowlais Iron Co. and the PNB owned collieries and ironworks in South Wales, whilst Nettlefolds had its steelworks at Rogerstone and a mill in Newport. The woodscrew and nut and bolt factories of the PNB were close neighbours in the Midlands. As a result, this history also assumes the shape of two regional case studies, South Wales, where coal mining and the first iron and steel works flourished, and the Midlands, the focus for the fastener, forgings and general engineering business.