There has been evidence of iron production on the site of Staveley for over 700 years, but in 1788 a small blast furnace was erected. The true origins of the Stanton Ironworks go back to 1846 when Chesterfield man, Benjamin Smith erected three blast furnaces by the banks of the canal. The company grew to a huge size, becoming the Staveley coal and iron company, employing 7000 men. The company was eventually taken over by Stewarts and Lloyds Ltd and was merged with the Staveley Iron and Chemical Company Ltd in 1960 to form Stanton and Staveley. When in 1967 Stewarts and Lloyds became part of the nationalised British Steel Corporation, its major subsidiary - Stanton and Staveley - was also incorporated.
The foundry was purchased in the early 2000's by Saint Gobain, a french company along with the nearby Clay Cross foundry. The Clay Cross works was shut instantly, with the loss of 700 jobs. Staveley lasted a while longer, but was wound down until it's final closure in 2007, ending a very long history of iron working in Staveley.
The chemical side of the company broke away in the 1960's, and wsa renamed the Devonshire works, after the Duke of Devonshire who ownes much land in the area. Some photos of Raddog and I's visit there last year can be seen here:
The iron foundry was well under demolition by the time we arived at the side of the site by boat. We had launched our new boat "Newbourne 8" from Chesterfield and spent the day toiling with slow currents and shallow waters to reach Staveley. When we got there we were stuck with limited light and drizzle. We vowed to return.
The site is huge, and is comprised of stone, brick and tin sheds, of varoius ages. The main melting shed is enormous, and had an amazing crucible platform, guarded by ornate railings with "S & S" cast into a plate, in the style of the British Steel logo, a beautiful touch which I doubt will ever be seen again.
The pattern maker's shed was much older. A plate on the beam crane of 1880's dates it well. The walls were of stone construction, and the roof made of huge wooden beams. Patterns of pipes and valves ranging from 6 inches to 6 meters tall were scattered around the room.
The offices had been sold off a few years previous, and have now been turned into a shitty business park, the grandure literally fading before your eyes!
All in all this is one of the most epic industrial sites I have ever seen.
Huge turning machine, for internal boring of castings. Myslef stood with the tool for scale.
Old shed, now demolished, with traces of the old "staveley coal and iron co" lettering along the top
The office block, which boasts a clock and fine plasterwork, now peeling off in chunks.