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.
A wonderful site of industrial archaeology, Duddon Furnace in South Cumbria, UK. Built in 1736 it operated as a charcoal burning iron Blast Furnace until 1867. Once overgrown with weeds and brambles, I used to play here as a child. Now a Grade II listed building and managed by English Heritage it has been cleaned … Continue reading 4. Steel-Historic Duddon Bridge Furnace
3. A Steel Revolution!
Having destroyed most of our recent industrial past, thank goodness we at least preserved the furnace and the story of how Abraham Darby, in 1709, revolutionised ironmaking and paved the way for the great Industrial Revolution. This is real industrial archaeology!
Area #1: The Industrial Midlands, Coalbrookdale
I can write no better an introduction to the Coalbrookdale Museum of Iron than to quote from the opening display:
“Iron is everywhere – it is the fourth most common constituent of the earths crust. It is in our blood and part of a healthy diet. Iron is in our vocabulary and there is a word for iron in almost every known language. Iron is taken to represent strength and steel as a symbol of determination. Iron is a part of everyday life and a basic component of the world in which we live now. Our world is a product of the Industrial Revolution which gathered pace from 1700 and in which this corner of Shropshire was to play a major role.”
“The history of ironmaking stretches back over 4 thousand years but some of the most important events in the development of ironmaking…
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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”.
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. 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.
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!
My 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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