Raby's Furnace stands approximately one mile outside the town of Llanelli in the village of 'Furnace'. This fine example of a Welsh Iron Furnace has been described by CADW (the Welsh Historic Monuments Agency), 'as a fine survival of a circa 1800 blast furnace in virtually intact form' and listed as Grade II*.
This crucible of the town's industrial birth was owned by Alexander Raby, the London Ironmaster and Cannon founder, who is reputed to have been the instigator of Llanelli's 'industrial revolution'. Raby is said to have arrived in Llanelli and to have taken over an earlier concern owned by John Gevers and Thomas Ingman circa 1796. Raby & Company (Carmarthenshire) were frequent contractors to the Board of Ordnance.
It has always been part of local folklore that cannonballs were cast at the Furnace for the Napoleonic Wars. The Furnace must have played an important part in the Napoleonic Wars for it was reported by the 'Cambrian' Newspaper in 1804, that 'four furnaces were at work night and day solely confined to the service of the Board of Ordnance'. Exciting research carried out at the Public Records Office by 'Llanelli Community Heritage' member Dr David Davies, has revealed that payments were made by the Board of Ordnance to the Raby & Co. for cannon and shot. He has also unearthed evidence of ships at Chatham Naval Dockyard being 'fitted out' with Carronades bearing Raby inscription marks. Carronades were small cannons used on board many of Nelson's ships during the Battle of Trafalgar. This was the Royal Navy in a time portrayed in the recent film 'Master and Commander' and the TV series 'Hornblower'.
The blast furnace itself stands approximately 8 metres high and is situated in a picturesque romantic valley called 'The Dingle' This impressive structure which was the start point of the town of Llanelli's industrial birth was also the core of a substantial rail and tramway network, part of which was to form the route of the First Public Railway in Great Britain.