A LLANGADOG author, who has spent the last two years researching the history of Merthyr, has published his first novel The Iron Masters.

Author Graham Watkins book chronicles the life of Nye Vaughan, a Llangadog farmer’s son who rises to control an empire of ironworks, mines and quarries, employing thousands of men.

Speaking of the book Graham, said: “In the 18th Century a few bold men created the biggest industrial city the world had ever seen. They were the Iron Masters.

“Napoleon Bonaparte, himself an artillery officer, was learning the art of war and Britain was rearming. The Iron Masters saw their chance and made fortunes from cannon production.

“More than a thousand cannons a week had to be cast to equip the new ships of the line. Their cannons saved a kingdom, forged the greatest empire in the world and changed the history of the human race.

“As I researched the Iron Masters, it became obvious that this was an incredible story.

“The characters were already there, larger than life and the plot, the story of the rise of Merthyr and its descent into mayhem and riots, wrote itself.”

Graham’s curiosity in the Iron Masters began with a visit to Vaynor churchyard.

He was researching his own family ancestry, when Robert Crawshay’s huge tombstone caught his attention.

The simple epitaph ‘God Forgive Me’ started him wondering what sort of men the Iron Masters were.

Learning that one of his own ancestors was a stonemason and was said to have worked on the Pontsticill Viaduct added to his interest.

The Iron Masters is a story of ambition, greed and, above all, the extraordinary resilience of the people of Wales and how they dealt with life's challenges in the 18th Century.

The Iron Masters is available as a paperback from Lulu.com and as an eBook from Amazon or through the author's website www.grahamwatkins.info