2. Steel Archaelogy


2. Steel Archaeology
The history of iron and steel making has been all but wiped out in Britain, but clearly not in America as this post from Joyce Hopewell about the Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham, Alabama clearly shows. It is a tragedy that some of our steelmaking industrial heritage hasn’t been better preserved to match that of the museums of steam, pottery, shipbuilding from the Victorian era. This article inspired me to pull together this short series on a little of the industrial archaeology of steelmaking. Tomorrow, “A Steel Revolution”.

Eyes in the back of my Head

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Was this really our destination? Looking at the rusty towering ruins of the Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama I had that “Oh no…” sinking feeling. Daughter-in-law had suggested this as our first stop on the family spring break road trip. It didn’t look very enticing or interesting. Abandoned industrial architecture didn’t  immediately appeal.

How wrong I was.

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1. Steel and the death of a Cumbrian community.


1. A Personal Tale of Steel …. and it’s death!
How did the steel industry die an undignified death in Britain? What was the effect on communities? This is a repost of a personal story that was to repeat itself 15 years later and kicks off 3-4 articles about the disappearance of steel manufacturing and its history. It will be followed by a Reblog from a follower who recently visited a closed but preserved steelworks in Alabama, USA.

Buddha walks into a wine bar ...

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It was largely elemental work -with fire, water and earth and [this author’s perception is that] it tended to shape the characters of those who undertook it -and lots of blast furnace workers were more than a little alarming to encounter at first meeting, but few were anything but totally transparent, moral, straightforward and, above-all, kind, caring and sociable individuals.
Quoted from Norman Nicholson:A Literary Life, by David Boyd.

The Ironworks at Millom in Cumbria was much more than the economic furnace of the town, it was the heart and soul of the community. And when the fire of the last blast furnace was extinguished in 1969…… the community died too!

img_1306My grandparents migrated to Haverigg towards the end of the 19th Century from Cornwall, a tin mining family who sought work, a new life, survival, as the tin mining industry declined and died. They brought their mining skills, their…

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Tour of England #1 Industrial Midlands: Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron


Coalbrookdale is a truly significant place in the history of the Industrial Revolution. It was here that Abraham Darby changed ironmaking by using coke instead of charcoal and his original furnace is preserved as a historic reminder.

Postcard from England #3: Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron


The industrial area south of Telford has 10 museums mostly celebrating Englands contribution to the Industrial Revolution. Many contain preserved factories or reconstructed workshops relating to coal, clay, brick, iron, tiles, pottery, but there is one that celebrates something significant and world changing that happened thanks to the ingenuity of one man in particular, though … Continue reading Postcard from England #3: Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron

The death of a Cumbrian community.


It was largely elemental work -with fire, water and earth and [this author’s perception is that] it tended to shape the characters of those who undertook it -and lots of blast furnace workers were more than a little alarming to encounter at first meeting, but few were anything but totally transparent, moral, straightforward and, above-all, … Continue reading The death of a Cumbrian community.