Ann Loveluck, the Kenfig woman whose legacy includes the Port Talbot Steelworks
Ann Thomas (née Loveluck) aged 72, sitting in the middle of her family in 1909
Richard Thomas (1837-1916) married Ann Loveluck (1837–1914) in Cardiff 18Feb 1859. He was the ‘Man of Steel’ who founded the Richard Thomas & Co. Ltd. Later merged with Baldwins: Richard Thomas and Baldwins Ltd (RTB) was a major iron, steel and tinplate producer, primarily based in Wales and formed in 1948 by the merger of Richard Thomas & Co Ltd with Baldwins Ltd. It was absorbed into British Steel Corporation in 1967. The business now forms part of Corus, a subsidiary of Tata Steel. The dynasty In most typical Victorian and Edwardian melodramas, the tough founder of the family fortunes has trouble with his legacy. The pampered sons reject careers in industry opting for bohemian, artistic lifestyles. Not so the Thomas’s! Standing behind their mother are all five of the sons of Ann Loveluck, plus her son-in-law. They all entered the steel- and tinplate industries. At one point in the 1890s as a family they owned or ran 77 tinplate factories along the coast from Llanelli to Lydney in Gloucestershire. The matriarch Ann Loveluck was the daughter of John Loveluck of Hafod Talog, Margam. She was niece of William Loveluck, the chief Customs and Exciseman at Port talbot. Her grandfather also William, was Portreeve of Kenfig three times —1811, 1819 and 1841. Her great-grand father John Loveluck was born in Wiltshire in 1740. He too became Portreeve in 1793. So she came of very good stock, but my sources don’t say much about her as a person.
I found most of this information (and the photo above) in a splendid book by David Wainwright from 1986 called Men of Steel: A History of Richard Thomas and His Family London; Quiller Press. The author was commissioned to write this, so it may not reveal all the unsavoury facts! (if any). There’s lots more information about the Lovelucks and their important contribution to Kenfig to be found in our own Barrie Griffith’s trilogy Kenfig Folk. Copies are still available from this website at a special discount rate of £8 each or £20 for all three, post free. There’s also a very comprehensive family history website http://www.loveluck.net/family-history/documents/lovelocks-in-glamorgan.html But what of Richard Thomas, ‘Man of Steel’ in the title of the book? Reading the book, you realise that this founder of the firm, father to five worthy sons and successors was more a Man of Tin(plate) than Man of Steel. His fortune was founded on tin-plate, which is why I include him in my forthcoming talk about some of The Tinplate Gentry of South Wales.