The Round Towers at Nantyglo stand as a permanent monument to the tyranny of the ironmasters Joseph and Crawshay Bailey and to the social conditions of the South Wales Valleys in the nineteenth century, which could so easily have developed into a bloody revolution.
Joseph and Crawshay Bailey were remarkable businessmen, but their profits were built not only from their deep knowledge of the iron industry, but also from a ruthlessness with their employees that today seems shocking. They built the Round Towers between 1816-1822 following serious rioting at Nantyglo, in an attempt to protect themselves and their property, and also to act as a symbol of strength against those who would dare threaten ironmasters with violence.
The major ironmasters represented a new class in Wales being English, Anglican and businessmen. Formerly the wealthy class in Wales was generally composed of absentee landlords of large estates living a long distance away from their workers and only seen during the hunting, shooting and fishing seasons. Although the ironmasters usually lived in a mansion close to the works, they were never really integrated into the life of the community and friction between master and worker was never far from the surface.