Edward Pritchard Martin
born  20th January 1844, Dowlais, Glamorgan, Wales, UK
baptised  20th February 1844, Dowlais, Glamorgan, Wales, UK
died  25th September 1910, Hotel Majestic, Harrogate, Yorkshire, England, UK
buried  Old Hereford Road Cemetery, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire, Wales, UK
era  Victorian and Modern
A biographical summary
Edward Pritchard Martin was instrumental in the progress of British steelmaking. He championed the Thomas-Gilchrist process for using phosphoric iron ores in steel, which revolutionised the industry. Martin ran several large established ironworks in south Wales, improving their facilities with new technology and machinery. He was president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Iron & Steel Institute, and the South Wales Institute of Engineers. He was also decorated by the King of Sweden.
Martin was born in Wales but educated privately in England, followed by studies in Paris. In 1860, at the age of 16, he began his engineering career at Dowlais Ironworks in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, where his father George Martin (1813-87) was a mining engineer for more than 58 years. Young Martin worked under forge and mill manager Edward Williams (1826-86) and was apprenticed to Dowlais general manager William Menelaus (1818-82). Menelaus had collaborated with Henry Bessemer (1813-98) on early experiments in steel making, and he passed on his knowledge to his pupil.
In 1869, Martin became Dowlais deputy manager. A year later he moved to Torfaen in Monmouthshire to run Cwmavon Ironworks. In 1874 he transferred to neighbouring Blaenavon Ironworks, where Sidney Gilchrist Thomas (1850-85) and his cousin Percy Carlyle Gilchrist (1851-1935) were working on removing phosphorus from iron ore.
Most available ores had phosphous in them, producing brittle steel of little use to industry. Martin financed experimental commercial trials and the resultant patents (1877 and 1878). He was rewarded for his part in the development of the Thomas-Gilchrist process with the Iron & Steel Institute's 1884 Bessemer Gold Medal, shared with Edward Windsor Richards (1831-1921) who had used the technique at the Cleveland Iron & Steel Works.
After Menelaus' death in 1882, Martin returned to Dowlais Ironworks, this time as general manager. Dowlais was by then in the trusteeship of George Thomas Clark (1809-98). Over the next 20 years, Martin remodelled the works and implemented growth, reinforcing its position as the world's largest ironworks. Many of his ideas were sparked by visits to iron and steel factories in America and Europe. He installed labour-saving machinery and new facilities, including a steel plant (built 1888-95). A sister ironworks to supply Dowlais was constructed in 1888-91 at East Moors near Cardiff Docks to smelt imported ores.
In his distinguished career, Martin held various presidencies: Institution of Civil Engeers, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Iron & Steel Institute and South Wales Institute of Engineers. He was a chairman of the Monmouthshire & South Wales Coal Owners Association and the Steel Workers' Sliding-Scale Board. In retirement from 1902 onwards, he remained a director at Dowlais, and held directorships of Rhymney Railway Company, South Wales Electrical Power Distribution Company and Orconera Iron Ore Company, as well as public office as High Sheriff of Monmouthshire. He died suddenly at Harrogate on 25th September 1910, aged 66.
1844 Born (20th January) in Dowlais to George Martin (1813-87, mineral agent) and Harriett Pritchard (1815-95), second of seven siblings: Harriett (b.1842), Henry William (b.1845), Charles Thomas (1848-9), Arthur Herbert (1850-90), Frances Mary (1853-53) and Jessie Anne (b.1854)
1850s Educated privately in Gloucestershire, then studies in Paris, possibly at Collège Rollin, learns French
1860-70 Apprenticed to William Menelaus (1818-82) at Dowlais Ironworks, assisting Edward Williams (1826-86)
1864 Working at the companyís London office
1869 Appointed (1st October) deputy general manager of the ironworks, original member of the Iron & Steel Institute established that year by Menelaus, living at 170 High Street, Dowlais
1866-67 Martin's father George Martin is President of the South Wales Institute of Engineers (founded 1857)
1870 Marries (6th January) Margaret James (1847-1911), daughter of solicitor and Member of Parliament Charles Herbert James (1817-90), at Twynyrodyn Chapel in Merthyr Tydfil, seven children: son (1873) stillborn, Clara Isabelle (1874-1958), Sarah Bertha Enid (1875-1912), Mary Harriette Mabel (1876-1957), Annie Beatrice (1880-1958), Charles Herbert George (1881-1915, died near Ypres) and Jessie Margaret (1886-1962)
1870-74 General manager of Cwmavon Ironworks, living at Bryn Cottage, Cwm Avon
1874-85 Appointed (30th September 1874) general manager of Blaenavon Ironworks, designs and erects a large Bessemer steel plant, champions the Thomas-Gilchrist process of dephosphorisation for steel.
1881 Elected member (5th April) of Institution of Civil Engineers, and of Institution of Mechanical Engineers
1882-1902 Appointed general manager of Dowlais Ironworks, designs and supervises rebuilding including new works at East Moors in Cardiff from 1891, and steel plant at Dowlais from 1895
1884 Awarded the Iron & Steel Institute's Bessemer Gold Medal with Edward Windsor Richards (1831-1921)
1897 Awarded Queen Victoria's (1819-1901) Diamond Jubilee Medal
1897-98 President of the Iron & Steel Institute
1899 Created Commander Second Class of the Royal Order of Vasa by King Oscar II of Sweden (1829-1907), following an 1898 Iron & Steel Institute visit to Sweden and Norway
1899-1902 Council member, Institution of Civil Engineers
1900 Dowlais Iron Company becomes Guest Keen & Co, later Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds (1902), later GKN
1902 Retires (June), remains a director of Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds, living at Gwernllwyn House, Dowlais
1903 Becomes High Sheriff of Monmouthshire (earlier High Constable for Caerphilly-Higher and Merthyr, 1884), also Justice of the Peace for Monmouthshire and Glamorganshire, living at The Hill, Abergavenny
1905-07 President, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, presidential address reviewed historical improvements in the iron and steel industries in Britain and USA
1910 Dies (25th September) unexpectedly after a brief illness (thought to be heart failure), at Hotel Majestic, Harrogate, where he had been taking the spa waters, probate (8th December) records an estate of £236,249
Selected works
Port Talbot Harbour alterations, Wales, UK .... 1860s
Dowlais Ironworks, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, UK .... 1860-70, 1882-1902
Cwmavon Ironworks Torfaen, Wales, UK .... 1870-74
Blaenavon Ironworks, Torfaen, Wales, UK .... 1874-85
All items by Edward Pritchard Martin
Everything built ... 1844 - 1910
Death of Mr. E.P. Martin Vice-Chairman of Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds, Ltd, Merthyr Express (West Mon Ebbw Vale Sirhowy Ed), 1st October 1910
Obituary, Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, 1910
Sudden Death of Mr. E.P. Martin, of Abergavenny, Abergavenny Chronicle, 30th September 1910
Further reading
Death of Mr. E.P Martin, Weekly Mail, 1st October 1910
Edward Pritchard Martin: A Biographical Sketch, Cassierís Magazine, Vol.XIII, November 1897 - April 1898, p.272, The Cassier Magazine Company, New York and London, 1898
Obituary: Edward Pritchard Martin, 1844-1910, Minutes of ICE Proceedings, Vol.186, p.450, London, January 1911
Obituary: Mr E.P. Martin, J.P., Cardiff Times, 1st October 1910
portrait  by Frank William Warwick Topham, courtesy Cyfartha Castle Museum and Art Gallery

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Edward Pritchard Martin
This biography was funded by
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Institution of Civil Engineers
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Dowlais High Street
View from the railway station down the High Street (date unknown) of Dowlais, Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. Martin was born in the town, home to Dowlais Ironworks where his father was employed. In 1869, when Martin was appointed deputy general manager of the works, he lived at 160 High Street.
Photo: courtesy www.alangeorge.co.uk
William Menelaus
Scottish born engineer William Menelaus (1818-1882). Martin was apprenticed to Menelaus at the Dowlais works between 1860 and 1870. The painting is by Parker Hegarty (a detail is shown).
Photo: courtesy Cardiff University
Gwernllwyn House
Martin retired in June 1902 but remained a director of several companies, including Guest, Keen & Nettefolds as the Dowlais Iron Company was then known. At that time, he lived at Gwernllwyn House in Dowlais (pictured, date not known).
Photo: courtesy www.alangeorge.co.uk
The Hill, Pen y Pound
In 1903, Martin moved with his family into this house, called "The Hill", at Pen y Pound, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire. The Grade II listed building dates from around 1768 (extended 1860).
Photo: courtesy Osmond Family Organisation
Celtic cross marking the Martin family plot in the cemetery on Old Hereford Road, Abergavenny. The base carries inscriptions for Edward Pritchard Martin (1844-1910), his wife Margaret (1847-1911), their son Charles Herbert George Martin (1881-1915) and daughters Clara Isabelle Martin (1874-1958) and Sarah Bertha Enid Ferguson (1875-1912). Photograph taken 10th January 2015 by members of the Osmond family — Edward Pritchard Martin is American singer Donny Osmond's first cousin four times removed.
Photo: courtesy Osmond Family Organisation
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Dowlais Steelworks, circa 1929
Dowlais Iron & Steelworks in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. Edward Pritchard Martin began his working life here in 1860 as an apprentice, where he learned about making steel. He returned as general manager in 1882, serving until 1902. This aerial image shows the extent of the works in the 20th century. Photo taken around 1929.
Photo: courtesy www.alangeorge.co.uk
Cwmavon Ironworks
Surviving buildings from the Cwmavon Ironworks complex, just south of Blaenavon. Martin was general manager at Cwmavon 1870-74.
Photo: © Jaggery and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
ICE records
Document showing Martin's election as a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers on 5th April 1881, signed by him on 7th April (signature not shown). One of the seconders was Henry Bessemer, inventor of the Bessemer process for steelmaking, in use at Dowlais and Blaenavon. The document can be read in full at www.ancestry.co.uk.
Photo: courtesy Institution of Civil Engineers
East Moors Dock at Cardiff, Wales
East Moors, Cardiff, showing the ironworks from the air in 1929. East Moors Ironworks was constructed as a sister plant to Dowlais Ironworks, in 1888-91. Martin was general manager of Dowlais at the time. East Moors supplied Dowlais with pig iron and steel.
Photo: © Crown copyright: Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales | © Hawlfraint y Goron: Comisiwn Brenhinol Henebion Cymru