by R TYSON
In the days before man used the wheel, he used his back. Then, as his burden, became bulkier and heavier, he used the horse. Thus was born the Packman and his train of horses - sometimes as many as thirty or more. So the Packways came into being.
So in the beginning the shortest journey between two villages was a straight line and man cultivated his crops along each side of the track. This was alright in the summers when the way was hard but in winter or prolonged wet weather, the track suffered terrible damage. It became sludgy and full of pot-holes so the Packmen made new and drier paths around the bad areas, even onto flattening the crops on enter side of the tracks.
The local burgesses made trackways simply by turning the earth back onto the tracks and putting stones on top but it was no solution. Sometimes, the way became half a mile wide and no longer straight but full of bends so man and beast had a hard journey. A century earlier man had begun to use carts with two wheels, later four wheels, but only in the South of England. Waggons, superseded carts, gradually moving North until reaching Yorkshire in the early 1600s. North of Yorkshire two wheeled carts and sledges were used to a better advantage on the hills and moorlands.
However, waggons suffered a serious disadvantage. The only bridges were Packhorse bridges and Packways - no bridges wide enough for the waggons. Even today, bridges can be seen that were once Packhorse Bridges and these have been widened to accommodate waggons. I refer to the Bridge at Cromford near the Church over the River Derwent, on the road to Crich.
Waggons, therefore, could only be used at fords but gradually enterprising communities decided to build toll roads and bridges to accommodate larger volumes of traffic and so speed up commerce.
In the late 1600s and early 1700s, Packhorses were used at Wortley Forge travelling to Manchester. According to J Croft's book "Packhorse, Waggon and Post" in l639 a 'coach(?)' was used to take Lady Wortley and her daughter to Wharncliffe for a picnic, over three miles of rock and cloud kissing mountains.
In 1643, Royalist Sir Francis Wortley and 900 of his men were in a battle at Tankersley and at Marston Moor and probably used the waggon from the Forge to convey shot and stores. on page 69 in the book "The Story of Wortley Iron Works" by R Andrews is a chapter entitled "The Iron Wayne". It states that the Iron Wayne was first heard of in 1647, when it was commandeered by the Parliamentarians to carry a load of muskets from, Doncaster, presumably to Carbrook Hall, their head quarters in this area. That must have been a terrible journey - no turnpike roads -, only trackways - perhaps belly deep in mud and how many bridges? 'The bridge by the Forge itself was only built in 1782.
R Andrews further states "The Iron Wayne was still in use in 1908. At least we always said it was the same waggon by a kind of apostolic succession. First the wheels wore out and new ones were fitted, then the body wore out and a new body fitted, continuing through the years, so there was never a complete new waggon."
So throughout the years many modifications must have been made, some by cost and some by usage
Therefore, after many months of study - of visits to Museums - of searching through library books and many photographs (-some of Wortley taken in the early 1900s and late 1800s) and communicating with historical waggon model builders, I can only reach the conclusion that the Iron Wayne had something from all the waggons that are illustrated here in this booklet. Upon reflection one draws the conclusion that the early owners of Wortley Forge were enterprising business-men in using the Packhorse and a waggon at one and the same time.
Footnote - I have scale plans ready to build a model Yorkshire Iron Wayne.
Reginald Andrews further writes that when he was a small boy he had a miniature Iron Wayne in which he used to ride. It was made for him by the Forge millwright Joel Jagger. I wonder what became of it and if he and the waggon were ever photographed?
The Cutting Edge - No.4 - 1988
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