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From his 1887 Obituary in the Transactions, and other information available we have created this summary about him.
William Adams (1813-1886) First President of the Society
According to some on-line sources he was born at born in Rank Cam (Crooked Row), Penycae (later Louvain Terrace, Newtown) in Ebbw Vale, the son of a Collier Rhymney, on the 10th of October, 1813. Other sources such as his obituary simply state Rhymney as his birth location.
After being under tuition at the Cowbridge Grammar School, he was apprenticed, in May 1828, to Mr. Charles Lloyd Hartford, managing partner of the Ebbw Vale Co., for a period of seven years, in general mining-works, and roads in connection with the mines and iron-works. Subsequently he became surveyor and assistant to his Father, who was the mining manager to the Company.
In the year 1832 he surveyed and set out lines of main road to connect the Ebbw Vale Iron works with the Brecon Canal, under the 8 mile clause of that Company’s Act. In 1833, under Mr. Hodgkisson, Engineer, and Mr. Morris, Surveyor, he was engaged on a survey from the Ebbw Vale and Nantiglo works, by way of Abergavenny and Usk, to the Port of Newport, and plans were deposited in November of that year; the hill portion of the work, a length of about 12 miles, was entrusted to him, and he assisted in preparing the plans for the whole line.
Poster from 1877
In 1845, when the Welsh Midland scheme of railways was projected through South Wales, the Ebbw Vale Company being much interested in the matter, Mr. Adams took up his quarters at Tredegar, and acted under the late Mr. Joseph Gibbs, M.Inst.C.E., and Mr. Pritchard, of the Newport Poster from 1877 he hill country to Brecon.
In 1853 he opened out the Brendon Hills Spathose Iron Mines, belonging to the Ebbw Vale Company, and had charge of them for some years. In 1856 he was appointed Assistant Manager of the Ebbw Vale Company’s works, which office he held for ten years.
In 1865 he commenced practice as a civil and mining engineer in Cardiff, soon gaining a foremost position in the profession. His opinion on all matters pertaining to coal mining and the allied subjects was highly valued, and he acted as consulting engineer for some of the largest collieries in the district. The great demand upon his time led to his taking into partnership Mr. Theodore Vachell, Assoc. M. Inst. C.E., who had been an articled pupil of his, and had acted as his assistant for many years.
CNS founded Cardiff Times Sat nov 30 1867
Mr. Adams took a great interest in the Free Library, and, in conjunction with Mr. E. S. Robinson, the then librarian, Mr. Bell, the resident engineer of the Barry Dock, Mr. Peter Price, and a few others, started the now flourishing institution known as the Cardiff Naturalists’ Society, of which for the first six years of its existence he filled the office of President. He may also fairly be considered the founder of the present Cardiff Museum, for when it was resolved to cede the collection of the Naturalists’ Society to the Free Library, he and Professor Etheridge spent a considerable time in arranging and naming the geological collection which formerly belonged to the old Literary institution in Crockherbtown, and which, with the library, had been handed over by Lord Bute to the Free Library Committee. As a great contributor to local museums and it is fitting that his likeness is on show in the main hall of the National Museum of Wales, Cathays Park Main building.
Bust of William Adams in marble created by Edward Onslow Ford in 1886-7 Commissioned by the Cardiff Naturalists' Society and Others
He also took an active part in the formation of the South Wales Institute of Engineers. At the time of his death he was Local Secretary of the Palestine Exploration Fund, and, as an old member of St. Andrew’s Church, had filled the office of Churchwarden for several years, ad represented the parish at the first Llandaff Diocesan Conference.
Mr. Adams was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 1st of May 1855, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 16th March 1880. He was also a Fellow of the Geological and of several other Societies. He died on the 17th of August, 1886.
William Adams (1813-1886) obituary as printed
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