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Report - Backbarrow Ironworks, Cumbria, Aug 2013

Discussion in 'Industrial Sites' started by Keynsham, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. Keynsham

    Keynsham 28DL Full Member
    28DL Full Member

    Jun 24, 2013
    Likes Received:
    This was the site of a charcoal blast furnace which lasted 250 years so I will try to be brief with the history:
    Built 1711
    Rebuilt 1770
    Bought by Harrison Ainslie 1824.
    Harrison Ainslie bankrupt in 1903 and 1918
    Reopened as the Charcoal Iron Co in 1918. Among other things they made Valley brand cold blast pig iron:
    which went into rollers like this:
    Closed 1967.
    In 1982 the site was used as a depot for the new gas pipeline and much damage was done.
    In 1990 there was a proposal to preserve the furnace and build light industrial units on the site. This was rejected by the neighbours who did not want nasty industry near their holliday homes.
    In 2005 the phrase was "live-work units" and 18 of these things got built before the developer went bankrupt in 2007.
    Finally in 2009 there were the floods which washed away the parapets of Backbarrow bridge along with any hopes of selling the "live-work units".
    Meanwhile the furnace stack continues to crumble, the engine house roof fell in and the moulding shop breeds woodworm.
    The charcoal barn. In 1889 they used 58 ton/wk of charcoal and 35 tons/wk of ore to make 28 tons of pig iron. Charcoal is light, ore is heavy so most charcoal furnaces have huge charcoal barns and tiny ore bunkers. Backbarrow is the opposite. The ore bunkers are now fenced off.
    "The present Company, the Charcoal Iron Company Ltd, was formed in 1918 and has, from that date, carried on the manufacture of cold blast pig iron which is supplied to the Chilled Roll Trade and various other makers of Chilled Castings, etc. The furnace is still blown by cold blast supplied by hydro-electric blowers driven by the River Leven, which drains Lake Windermere.
    It is interesting to note that, at one time, the furnace was also used as the village bakery"

    The generator for the hydro-electricity
    Outfall from the turbine
    Wooden templates for sand moulds

    That was the nearest I could get to match the 1930s photo.
    The blowing engine. It is a single cylinder engine, the green thing in the foreground is the blowing cylinder.
    What a clever way to remove asbestos! Wait for the roof to fall in and let the wind blow it away!
    Boiler feed pump.
    The furnace stack
    Boiler house

    Live-work units
    Hurry, Hurry!!! Only 18 left.
    #1 Keynsham, Sep 4, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013

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