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The expansion of iron mining in the Cumbrian orefields during the nineteenth century led ultimately to the development of an entirely new town on a greenfield site at Barrow-in-Furness . Only a small fishing village in the 1840s, within 20 years the sixteen blast furnaces of the largest ironworks in the world had been surrounded by an expanding planned industrial settlement and the beginnings of the famous shipbuilding industry .

The ironworks was developed in the 1850s, and by 1872 was the largest in the world. It comprised a huge complex of blast furnaces with associated forges, rolling mills, engine houses and was linked to the adjacent steelworks with its giant Bessemer converters. Much of the output of the works went to the nearby dockyard , but considerable amounts of steel rail were widely exported - examples have been found in Melbourne and Colorado.

Our archaeological work took place over two years, and comprised large scale trial trenching evaluation, an open area excavation and a prolonged watching brief during the redevelopment of the site. We discovered a complex network of substantial (over 4m diameter) culverts and flues beneath the site, as well as some interesting new evidence for the evolution of hot blast stove technology.

Open area excavation of a medieval and later corn mill at Edgbaston, Birmingham

Large scale watching brief on the site of the 19th century ironworks at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria

The IRONBRIDGE GORGE MUSEUM TRUST, Coach Road, Coalbrookdale, Telford, TF8 7DQ is a limited company registered in England under the Companies Act 1948 Reg No. 918560 and the Charities Act 1960 Ref No. 503717-R.
The Ironbridge Gorge is a World Heritage Site.