Nr Birdwell, off M1 J16 - SE 338022 - Scheduled Ancient Monument
Built between 1698 and 1704, the furnace formed part of a trade syndicate in Yorkshire centered on the Spencers of Cannon Hall. It operated until 1741 with Charcoal as fuel.
It is thought that the furnace operated again around 1790, using coke fuel, to produce gun casting.
Rockley Furnace made Cast Iron in the eighteenth century, using ores mined in the same valley and charcoal from the surrounding woodlands
This furnace was probably built about 1700, for by 1704 there would appear to have been two furnaces in the valley, the other having been started in 1652, 500 metres to the west.
Documents from the first twenty years of the eighteenth century suggest that both furnaces worked intermittently, but in 1726 only this one appears on an estate map. In that year it was leased to William Cotton and Samuel Shore from the Earl of Stafford. Their rent payments can be found in the Stafford accounts until 1741.
The Furnace site was purchased from the Wentworth Estate back in 1957, but the site has never been developed.
Archaeological excavations took place between 1978 & 1982. These have shown that molten iron was cast from the hearth (now missing) in the base of the furnace, into moulds in a bed of sand to the west. The pigs of iron which were formed would be sent to finery forges such as Wortley Top Forge, to be converted into bar iron. Probably after the time of Cotton and Shore a pit was dug through these pig-beds, and this was lined with stone. In this pit, moulds of clay or loam would be placed, for casting objects such as cylinders, pipes or guns. This change could have taken place about 1790, when the furnace is said to have been re-opened. The archaeological results support this, for the more recent deposits contain coke, which was increasingly used in Yorkshire blast furnaces at this time. The furnace cannot have been used in this way for long, for it is not mentioned in lists of furnaces of the period.
The site has been backfilled after the excavation work to both protect the building foundations and to make a site that is safe for unaccompanied visitors.
A cut-away drawing has been prepared that suggests how the furnace may have appeared in its last years. Moulds and castings lie near the pit on the west (right) of the furnace, and the water-wheel is powering the wood-and-leather bellows in the foreground. Traces of the wheel and the bellows frame were found during the excavations. The wheel received water from the south, from a reservoir long since dry. The furnace was loaded with ore and fuel across a bridge from the existing bank to the south. The dressed stone on the outer faces of the furnace has been removed, although a photograph of about 1905 shows the north face intact.
What the visitor to the furnace actually sees is the core of the furnace structure. The original ashlar stonework that formed the outer structure has been progressively robbed. There is a photograph from about 1900 that shows the stone facing still partically in place on one side.
The furnace is protected under the Ancient Monuments Act. It is owned by the South Yorkshire Industrial History Society and administered by the South Yorkshire Trades Historical Trust Ltd. You are welcome to visit the site and examine the area within the fence, but please do not climb upon or damage the furnace and its surroundings.
Also on the same site is:-
(Nr Birdwell, off M1 J16) - SE 338021 - Scheduled Ancient Monument
The engine house once housed a newcomen type pumping engine that kept an iron mine dry. The house is built from sandstone and with its castellated top now looks a little like a folly. It has a date stone bearing the date 1813, but it is thought that the mine predates this.
The engine is said to have been moved to the Chapletown area around 1870.
There is a cutting to the east of the enginehouse that was the trackbed of the Pilley Hills Colliery Branch of the Worsborough Railway.
It has been suggested that the mine may also have produced coal. The coal in this area is at a deeper level than the iron and mining maps of the area do not show any working in this area in the coal seams.
Bought along with the Rockley Furnace (in 1957), the engine house has been the subject of major conservation work afew years back.
Rockley Furnace and Engine House area adjacent to each other, sandwiched between Rockley lane and the M1 motorway (just north of Junction 36). There is limited parking at the side of the lane and a marked footpath past the engine house to the furnace. While an effort is made to keep the undergrowth at bay, the site suffers from minor vandalism that has resulted in the information board for the furnace remaining at Wortley Top Forge.
Animation of an Atmospheric Engine as installed at Rockley
Would-be visitors are advised to visit Top Forge before going to Rockley.
Sheffield, nr City Centre - SK 353879
This site is the last remains of two Cementation Furnaces built around 1828. They were in the Frankin Works of Thomas Turton. It is thought that the furnaces were used until 1911, by which time the works was owned by Moss & Gamble.
Only the lower parts of the furnaces survived to be rediscovered in the 1970s when the works was demolished.
It is possible that more parts of these or other furnaces remain, still buried, adjacent to the current site.
Work at this site so far has been limited to a few working parties to remove the 'inner city rubbish' that accumulates here.
This site is NOT open to the public at this time, although it has been suggested that a canopy and viewing area be built in the future.
Hoylandswaine Village, nr Penistone - SE 265047 - Listed Grade 2
The building is a row of three forges at the side of the former main road. Only one room retains the hearth, chimney and bellows of the forge.
This site is NOT open to the public at this time, however the Trust is slowly working towards its goal of returning one forge to near working condition and using a second as an information/interpretation area dedicated to the iron nail forging industry in South Yorkshire.
More about the South Yorkshire Trades Historical Trust Ltd.
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