Buildings of Newport (14)

Lysaght institute

John Lysaght (1832–1895) was born in Mallow, County Cork, Ireland, into a prosperous family of landowners; his father was William Lysaght (1800–1840), a distant relation of the Lisle baronets. John Lysaght was sent to school in Bristol, and became friendly with the Clark family. In the 1851 census he is recorded as a civil engineer living with his widowed mother and family in Liscard, CheshireHowever, in 1856 he acquired from the Clark family a small hardware galvanisation business, utilising the Crawford hot-dip technique, at Temple Back, Bristol.
The business was renamed John Lysaght Ltd., and initially employed six men and a boy. Lysaght expanded the business, buying in iron sheets and galvanising them for the expanding factory market. He adopted the name "Orb" as his trademark, and Orb corrugated galvanised iron sheeting became highly prized. Demand grew quickly, and in 1869 Lysaght purchased a larger site at St Vincent's, Netham, Bristol, for a new factory which by 1878 employed 400 men and produced 1000 tons of galvanised iron sheet a month. The company also diversified into making constructional ironwork, exported around the world from Bristol qIn 1878 the company bought the disused Swan Garden Iron Works in Wolverhampton, and two years later acquired the neighbouring Osier Beds Iron Works. Together these enabled Lysaght's to produce 40,000 tons of rolled iron sheet each year, much of which was exported to Australia. John Lysaght travelled to Australia in 1879, and formed a subsidiary company there, Lysaght (Australia), the Victoria Galvanised Iron and Wire Co. In England, John Lysaght's was incorporated as a limited company in 1881, and then expanded at its bases in Bristol and Wolverhampton.

At Newport, where employment at the Orb steel works peaked at over 3,500 employees, the W.R. Lysaght Institute was opened in December 1928 on Corporation Road, as a memorial to its namesake's fifty years as the company's chairman, and to celebrate the contribution of its employees to the success of the work It was financed jointly by the company and its workers, stood in 8 acres of grounds near the works entrance, and provided a range of facilities for staff including a ballroom, tennis courts, bowling green, and ornamental gardens It closed in 2001, and soon became derelict. The site was initially purchased by a housing developer, but was later sold and in 2008 was bought by Linc-Cymru. It was refurbished and reopened as a community centre in November 2012.

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