joseph cosslett interview @ 1914         back to newspaper



Health Amidst Coaldust. 



    Mr. Joseph Cosslett, of 19, Lewis-street, Canton, Cardiff is a very fine example of a long-lived coaltrimmer.  He is proud to claim himself the “Father of the four generations of Cossletts,” Although 74 years of age, Mr. Cosslett walks erect, and goes daily to the docks as a coaltrimmers’ foreman.  

  “You seem to have a few more years in hand,” said our representative who saw him yesterday. “Yes,” said Mr. Cosslett, “I still feel fit for work.  This is a very good world, and I am very happy with my family.  I was only 17 when I started with the coal, and have worked for over 40 years with the shovel, and with big men, too.”  And in the early days it was work”—with an emphasis on the latter word peculiar to retired fathers.  

  Mr. Cosslett was uncertain whether he might call himself a Welshman, an Englishman, or a Scotsman.  The family of Cossletts—the blacksmith Cossletts—are familiar in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire.  “I have read", said he, "that the first Cosslett was not a Welshman, but really a Scot.  He was supposed to have left the shores of his fathers, sailed up the Bristol Channel, and made a landing at the Old Canal Dock—then the only available entrance to Cardiff.  He is said to have made his way up to Machen, where he pitched his tent, and after a while made a start with the iron ore to be found there.  It was he who laid the foundations of the Machen Works.  According to the historical record, the first Cosslett was a Scotch Prince, an heir, to the Scottish Throne.”   

  “The Cossletts,” he went on, “have worked with iron ever since.  We heard the other day about the four generations of carpenters, but ours is a family which can claim a century or two of blacksmiths.  Of the many families I have known I don’t remember one without a blacksmith; or one who did not take to the welding of some mineral or other.  There are the Cossletts of St. Yagans, of Llanishen, and of Castleton.  

A Preacher Blacksmith   

  My father’s father lived at  Michaelstone-y-Vedw, and I have often heard my father, who could go back some 300 years in the family history, speak of the famous blacksmith Cosslett of Castleton, who had been known to leave his smithy with his apron tucked under his waist, and mount the pulpit ‘for a preaching’ in the village Calvinistic Methodist Church.”  

  “Is the tradition broken in your family?”  Asked our representative.  “Yes and no,” replied Mr. Cosslett.  “I have a son who while he is a blacksmith, is a smith in copper and tin is now engaged at Barry.”  

  Mr. Cosslett was born in Cardiff in 1840 in a cottage erected near the present Berracks Field in Cathays.  ‘He was the youngest of sixteen of a family.’  When married he was living at the lower end of Roath, ‘and his medical advisor induced him to remove to Canton because of his wife’s health.  He did so, and the change from a healthpoint of view was remarkable.  “We have now been fully 25 years in that ward, and have had very little illness.”  My wife is also 74 years of age.  We celebrated our golden wedding in October 1910, and one of the pleasantest recollections of that was the presentation of an illuminated address from the members of the Llandau road Baptist Chapel Bible Class.”  Mr. Cosslett’s two daughters and four sons are married, and between them they can muster “32 grand children and two great-grandchildren.”

Interview with Joseph Cosslett @1914

Cardiff, Wales

Joseph Cosslett (1840 - 1931)