Prior to the 1640s small-scale metal and coal mining were practised in Wales, a mostly rural region. There was a fledgling coal export industry in south Wales and Aberystwyth between the 16th and 17th centuries. This was helped by the English Civil War (1642–49), which boosted local economies. During the Industrial Revolution (c. 1750–1850) Welsh industry flourished. Coal was the primary fuel and Welsh coal fields prospered well into the 20th century. The slate industry (slate was used in roof tiles) grew after slate duty was abolished in 1831, peaking in 1850. Lead and copper mining peaked in the mid-1800s, but declined by the early 1900s. From the 1740s–1850s Merthyr Tydfil in south Wales grew into one of the largest centres of iron-working in the world. During this period, coal mining and iron smelting became the main trades of the region and attracted immigrants from rural areas of Wales, as well as England, Scotland, Ireland and even Italy.
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