Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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MARTIN , Sir RICHARD ( 1843 - 1922 ), industrialist and public man ;

b. in Aug. 1843 at Pentre-mawr , Swansea . He was educated at the Copper Works School , Hafod , Swansea . After leaving school he was employed in the Millbrook iron works , Swansea . In 1867 he was appointed a clerk in the civil service in his native town, and in 1872 was transferred in the same capacity to Grimsby . In 1875 he returned to Swansea and started business on his own account . In 1879 he and others founded the Vale of Swansea zinc works at Llansamlet , and in 1881 the Birch Grove iron works , while, in 1884 , he bought the Ynys-pen-llwch tin works . The zinc works are still operating and Martin was connected with them until his death.

He was a member and alderman of the town council from 1884 to 1910 ; he was mayor of the town in 1898-9 , and chairman of the education committee for six years. He tried hard to get the University College of South Wales sited at Swansea , but the choice fell on Cardiff . He was, however, successful in getting for his town a technical school which, subsequently, became a technical college. Martin , with the help of Sir Isambard Owen (q.v.) , then sought to have the technical college recognised as one of the constituent colleges of the University of Wales , but in this he was not successful. He urged upon the Haldane Commission on Welsh university education ( 1916-18 ) the necessity of having a university college at Swansea which would specialize in technical education; it was founded in 1920 , and when the foundation stone was laid by king George V , Martin was knighted . Besides obtaining a university college for his town , he was also responsible for building the Normal College on the Glanmor estate . Moreover, he worked hard to get other improvements for the town, for which he foresaw a brilliant future. He d. suddenly in London , 11 Sept. 1922 , and was buried at Ystum Llwynarth (‘ Oystermouth ’), Swansea .


  • Personal knowledge.


Hugh David Jones, M.A., Swansea

Published date: 1959