THE construction industry played an important part across Wales over the centuries and helped to establish the industry abroad too.

Here we look at the Amman Valley brothers who established an ironworks in Los Angeles.

Brynamman and Los Angeles are worlds apart in the minds of many people, with the former being a quiet Welsh valleys village which is known for its mining and the latter being a hub for world-famous A-list celebrities, but the two came together in the late 1800s with the founding of an ironworks in LA by the Llewellyn brothers.

South Wales Guardian: The Llewellyn brothersThe Llewellyn brothers

Reese Llewellyn (president) and his brothers David (secretary), John (vice president) and William (vice president) were proprietors of the Columbia Foundry on the corner of San Fernando Street and Magdalena Avenue in Los Angeles. They founded the Llewellyn Iron Works in 1889 and it was incorporated in 1894.

During the growth of the city and others across the country, Llewellyn Iron Works was there to supply furnished machinery and structural iron and steelworks to enterprises in California, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. They even supplied Mexico and South American companies.

The Llewellyn Iron Works sign would be seen on numerous office buildings, including the gates of Berkeley Square in 1904.

The company was also responsible for the iron work inside the Bradbury Building.

They also supplied iron and steel structural work to the Herman W. Hellman and Huntingdon buildings which are classed as ‘two of the most magnificent structures in all the west.’

Llewellyn Iron Works was also responsible for many of the large dredges along the coast and drills and machinery used in Los Angeles and Kern County and many of the skyscrapers were built using metal from the company.

South Wales Guardian: Some of the relics from Llewellyn Iron WorksSome of the relics from Llewellyn Iron Works

During the operational period, the brothers’ iron works manufactured mining machinery, oil well tools, boilers, engines, elevators, wood pulleys, oil and water tanks, riveted steel pine, pumps and artistic metal work.


The Llewellyn Iron Works estate was quite prominent in the Los Angeles landscape, covering six acres on North Main and E. Redondo Streets, featuring a machine shop, blacksmith shop, boiler shop, foundry and pattern shop.

Each of the shops were equipped with modern machinery and appliances including heavy lifting and sliding cranes. The company employed 350 men.

Unfortunately for the Llewellyn brothers, their success was to be impacted by the 1910 destruction of the plant.

Historical records note a turbulent year for unions in militantly open-shop Los Angeles. The Llewellyn brothers were said to be anti-union and on Christmas Day, 1910, the plant was blown up using dynamite, which followed the October 1 bombing of the Los Angeles Times building on Broadway and First Street – the company was owned by another anti-unionist in Harrison Gray Otis.

South Wales Guardian: Llewellyn Iron Works plantLlewellyn Iron Works plant

Shortly after this, the Llewellyn brothers moved to Berkeley Square, which provided safety due to the gated enclave.

In 1929, the brothers sold the company, and it was combined with the Baker and Union Iron Works and formed Consolidated Steel.

Reese Llewellyn had a hand in a number of organisations throughout his life, becoming president of Helsby Red Sandstone Company in 1895 and was on the board of directors for the Home Saving Banks of Los Angeles in 1905.

He was a member of the Business Men’s Association of Los Angeles and opposed the closure of saloons in 1905 and he served as vice president of the Better America Federation for Los Angeles county by the 1920s. He died in 1936 after suffering a stroke on the Grace Line ocean liner.

With thanks to William Clark.