Over the years several articles have been written about the Forge which illuminate different aspects of its history
Wortley Ironworks about 1900
C Reginald Andrews
This Page is an extract from the book ‘The Story of Wortley Ironworks’ first published in 1950.
The Old Ironworks half a century ago.
Arriving at Wortley Station [closed in 1960s] you could see the old Tinmill with its dam, also the stepping stones and little bridge making a very picturesque corner; in fact the whole scene had little in common with the typical industrial environment, it was far more likely one of those wooded valleys beloved by the monks as a site for abbeys.
Walking along the road which was a continuation of the Finkle Street of Roman days, you soon came in sight of the ‘Low Forge’ with its two tall chimneys… Read more
Wortley Iron In the Service of Man
By N. L. C. written in 1979
In Top Forge at Wortley , we have a workplace where craftsmen applied their strength and skill to making and using wrought iron from 1640 to 1912. It was done in the service of man.
In so serving man, these workers helped to change England. In 1640 the wealth of this country, then with five million people, seemed to be on-the-ground crops: animals that fed on grass, fleeces from sheep. Cloth making was our major industry; woollens accounted for nearly half our exports. By 1800 more iron was being made than in 1640, more articles in iron exported, more articles of iron used by the English in their home. Iron in 1800 was going to the forward-looking places where new and better machines… Read more
The First Top Forge
at Wortley in South Yorkshire
By N. L. C.
Let us imagine that we are in the year 1640 and that we are approaching (in daytime) the first Top Forge, on a working day. We might look out for three chimneys. (We presume that the one hammer, two fineries and one chafery mentioned in the 1658 lease were part of the original equipment.) These chimneys would lead us to look for a barn-like building covering about half the area of the present main building. Our ears would tell us we were getting nearer; we should hear an air from the movement of water-wheels and an underlying rhythm from the beating of a hammer like the older hammer in today’s forge.
We could hardly step inside (through an opening on the side nearest the main road) without getting in someone’s way. Working space is needed by the hammerman controlling the red-hot mass of iron being worked on the anvil and for men round the chafery preparing the iron for the hammerman. That chafery is one of three built-up hearths.
You can now identify in the oldest part of the present forge a working area of about 1300 square feet. A 1635 inventory of ironworks in the Forest of Dean records the measurements of two forges with the same equipment as the Top Forge of 1640 (one hammer, one chafery, two fineries) . Each measures 42 feet by 30 feet. The first Top Forge must have been little different in size… Read more