Archibald Hood

(1823 -1902)

Born in Kilmarnock, he started work aged 13 in the same colliery as his father, working 12 hours a day in charge of a surface engine, but when his father was appointed a colliery manager, Archibald was able to avail himself of the educational facilities and to reach his goal of being a qualified mining engineer.

Within a few years he was masterminding opening up large areas of Ayrshire for collieries and iron workings.

In 1856 he became involved in the Lothian coalfield by taking a lease on the Whitehall Colliery at Rosewell and transformed coal production there and in the surrounding areas where he acquired several other pits. He also developed interests in a brick and tile works, and encouraged the development of railways in the area, which he realised would be essential for the efficient transport of coal.

But it's not so much his commercial skills that Hood will be remembered in Scotland. He was one of the more enlightened colliery owners with regards his employees. Like other employers such as the Cadburys at Bourneville and Titus Salt at Saltaire near Bradford, Hood built a model village for his workers, with each cottage having a garden. He was concerned that his workers were getting into debt by 'buying on-tick" from local traders, so encouraged the development of co-operatives. He also introduced the 'Gothenburg' system of public house whereby all profits from the sale of alcohol was ploughed back into the community, providing such facilities as parks and libraries.

In 1860s he came to south Wales to 'spy out he land' on behalf of some fellow Scots, and quickly recognised the potential of investing in the area himself. After a few false starts, Hood acquired land and mining rights at Llwynypia in the Rhondda Valley, and sank his first mine there in 1863. Production of his prize steam coal increased steadily and his "Hoods Merthyr" brand being one of the most sought after coals and on the Admiralty list for well over 30 years.

By 1867 Hood's Welsh interests had grown to such an extent that he took up permanent residence in Cardiff. His house (or mansion?) was on Newport Rd, next to the now disused St James church opposite Eastgate House.

Hood showed similar considerations to his workers as he did in Scotland, providing cottages with gardens, and erecting schools and institutes furnished with reading rooms. A newspaper report states that Llwynypia was the only place where sports were encouraged by the colliery proprietor.

As his Glamorgan Coal Company expanded, so did Hood's status as a leading industrialist. As well as being a magistrate he was chairman or president of the Cardiff Chamber of Commerce.

SOURCE: Gordon Hindess - The Mid-Summer Heritage Walk