Report - - Coalbrookdale Foundry , Shropshire, Dec 17 | Industrial Sites | 28DaysLater.co.uk

Report - Coalbrookdale Foundry , Shropshire, Dec 17

The Amateur Wanderer

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Coalbrookdale Foundry, Shropshire, December 2017


I saw this place was due to close in the news in November, and so it went on my radar as a potential Christmas Leave explore... A quick recce in November whilst passing through the Ironbridge Gorge confirmed that the foundry would indeed be doable and so I made a date to visit that date been brought back by @Speed 's recent report. I met up with @AndyK and after a few dramas on the way down we headed inside following a route planned from my recce the month previous.

I was pretty excited to visit this place, the first new bit of industry, or at least the first bit interesting enough to get me back on the grid in almost a year... Coalbrookdale is such an important place, it simply had to be done, it literally is one of the birth places of the Industrial Revolution. Although much of the original works from over 300 years ago has either disappeared or evolved over the years just been able to record this site in its current condition is something amazing and definitely worthy of doing. I mean 309 years of Iron making, come on, that's something pretty special really isn't it?


309 years of Iron making and Forging, where to start? Well, at the beginning,I suppose? The year's 1709 and Industrialist Abraham Derby the I arrives in Coalbrookdale, what he finds before him is the broken and derelict remains of a small blast furnace damaged from an attack a few years previous in the civil war. Derby repairs and improves upon the damaged blast furnace creating a brick lined coke fuelled furnace and builds a forge to go with it, he has just begun the next 309 years of Iron Working in Coalbrookdale. In 1715 a second blast furnace was created on site to up production at the thriving plant a little, sadly Darby didn't profit too much from this extension due to his untimely death in 1717... This been said his son creatively named Abraham Derby II did, and he would go on to build air furnaces for the recycling of pig iron, as well as forging cylinders and pistons for early steam engines, powering the industrial revolution. In 1768 the company began to forge rails for the worlds latest industrial wonder, the railway, rails from Coalbrookdale most probably ended up on the Stockton and Darlington Railway, Britain's very first operational conventional railway. Ten years later and under the command of Abraham Derby III the forge completes another first! The building of the worlds first ever cast iron bridge, the famous Ironbridge just down the road from Coalbrookdale which opened in 1780, the bridge can be seen below from my visit in 2015.

In the 19th centaury Coalbrookdale would become famous for their work on decorative iron work, creating pieces such as the gates to Hyde Park in London. It is believed that the blast furnaces where also closed around this time, been filled in around the 1820's. One blast furnace has since been unearthed and can be viewed preserved in the Coalbrookdale Foundry Museum at the rear of the now closed Foundry site. In 1929 the Foundry was absorbed into the Allied Iron Founders Co. and was again absorbed in Glynwed a company later to become known as Aga Foodservices Ltd to who it would remain in ownership of the site until closure in November 2017.

An interesting side note that I'll add is the factories use during the second world war, of course Aga's weren't exactly a war winning product and so from 1942 onwards the factory was commissioned to produce wings for the Royal Air Force's brand new Aircraft the Avro Lancaster Bomber.


Right, onto the good bit, the pictures, starting off with the works entrance...

Let's start at the beginning of the process, the Melting shop, and what is quite possible the cutest little pair of blast furnaces you'll perhaps ever see...

Neat eh?

No.2 Furnace

Looking out of a snowy Coalbrookdale, looking over the Foundry and the Museum in the distance, this was taken whilst inspecting the giant cuplars above the furnaces.

There's the usual workers graffiti to be found in the meltshop, as we've already seen in Speeds report, but it's worth including again to add that human touch to a place now devoid of anyone other than passing photographers like myself...

There's a few bits of machinery in the works for processing scrap iron for melting, I suppose I'd ought to have included these before the furnace really...

Next up, the casting shop, rather sadly a lot of removal already seems to have been occurring here at a rather rapid rate, that said, still plenty to see!

Plenty of Moulds still lying around on the shop floor, nice having a look through these and seeing all the different parts of the cookers in mould form.

Heat resistant clothing for forging in...

Extraction Hoods and Boiler.

Avery Scales, there's very few places you'll not find a set of these at when in the pursuit of British Industry.

A fitters desk, with myself sporting a Coalbrookdale Donkey...

The machine shops where very bog standard, your usual milling machines, radial arms you know the score, worth a look in though...

Next up, the baths, sadly we'd just missed the lockers, but the showers where still adorned with workers discarded items...

And a couple taken on our way out...

And that's all folks,
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed my version of this seriously historically important site. Next time you're in town and you see an iron/steel structured building, think of Coalbrookdale, because without it, we'd probably still be living in timber framed buildings!

All the Best!
TAW :)
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