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History of the Pencoyd Iron Works

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  • History of the Pencoyd Iron Works

    The linked article is an historical sketch of the Pencoyd Iron Works, established by Welsh immigrants in the area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1852. The Roberts clan left their ancestral home 'Pencoid' (note the spelling) in Wales, establishing a new home of the same name, and ultimately an iron works (Pencoyd: same name, different spelling) in the Philadelphia suburbs. Early in the 20th century, the Pencoyd Works were absorbed into the U.S. Steel Corporation as the American Bridge Company, and the works continued to operate until 1943.

    To my regret I have essentially no knowledge of the Pencoyd Works, but I should have had some: my grandfather Robert (1879-1967) was employed at the works as an electrical engineer for, I think, the entirety of his career. I recall only one conversation with him on the subject, in which he stated that the works closed because there was no room for expansion*, and (I assume) no point in the decades prior to closure to investing in equipment upgrades, plant improvements, etc.

    * As he said, the works were hemmed in by the river on one side, and a railroad viaduct on the other.

    Link to a manipulable lithograph of the works:

    Link to the historical sketch:


    Some clarification of the complicated corporate structuring/restructuring that involved the Pencoyd works:

    American Bridge Company was created by J. P. Morgan on 14 April, 1900 by amalgamating 24 steel mills, fabrication shops, etc, including the Pencoyd works. By 1 April 1904, ABC became a subsidiary of U. S. Steel Corporation (1), the corporate headquarters of ABC being located in New York, then Philadelphia, and finally Pittsburgh in 1904, where they remain today.

    (1) US Steel was also founded by J. P. Morgan on 2 March, 1901, by combining Carnegie Steel with Federal Steel and National Steel. The purchase price of the three corporations was $492 million ($14.6 billion today); the new U.S Steel Corporation was capitalized at $1.4 billion ($40.30 billion today), making it the first billion-dollar corporation in the world. US Steel is today headquartered in Pittsburgh, however the American Bridge Company Division was spun out as a separate company in 1987.
    Last edited by tlfamm; 05-18-2017, 09:21 PM. Reason: Add clarity + link

  • #2
    HTML Code:
    Odd, I live 10 mins drive from,....pencoed, I don't know of an iron foundry there, the closest was tondu, not far away, it's not beyond the realm of probability that the original immigrants came from this area.
    My son does the family history/genealogy thing and has census info for the area as far back as the start of records, I'll ask him if he can look, I'm sure he has somthing, he's done mine back to 1600s I think, turns out my lot were drake which was a suprise.
    Also pen in Welsh is top, coed is trees, so tree tops fwiw
    Last edited by boslab; 05-17-2017, 09:21 PM.


    • #3
      Pencoyd, Pencoid, Pencoed - can you Welsh folks make up your mind?

      My grandfather mentioned above was the son or grandson of Welsh immigrants.

      The article says that the name is pronounced "Pencode" ...


      • #4
        So, Mark, how fluent in Welsh are you?


        • #5
          I don't suppose the spelling really matters you get the gist when you say it, if he pronounced it pen code sounds like there's a bit of Cornish going on there as a lot of the hard rock miners and such came from Cornwall to Wales, hence Cornish and Welsh are reasonably close languages, probably the attraction to come to Wales as it took little to change over.