Advent-ures in History

November slipped away, quite literally, into December with a cold turn following Storm Arwen, bringing, wet and wintry weather in its wake. And a touch of snow. Starting belatedly to feel a little festive.

Snowy scene, 28th November 2021

Taking the meteorological hint, the Friends and volunteers stayed indoors for a couple of weekends. Switching from shovels and spades to books and browsing the internet for research and future plans. So during the intermission, we bring you a little glimpse into the industrial past; of Elsecar 150 years ago…

Elsecar 150 years ago

Elsecar

In 1871 an industrial journalist wrote of the iron and coal industries of Elsecar, here follow some suggestive snippets which strike a bold contrast with the green and gentle heritage treaure we know today.

Mining Journal masthead, (Courtesy Internet Archive)

…there are few places where the educational advantages for children are superior to those at Elsecar and the neighbourhood, whilst the place itself boasts of gas, a covered market, and other advantages.

Mining Journal, Vol.XLI, No.1895, Supplement, 16th December 1871, p.1121
Elsecar infants school photo, 20th century

One of the largest private firms in the kingdom engaged in the production of pig and manufactured iron is that of Messrs. W. H. and G. DAWES, whose names are familiar in all the home and foreign markets, and where their brands are in high repute…

Mining Journal, Vol.XLI, No.1895, Supplement, 16th December 1871, p.1121
Iron works in the landscape Old Series 1 Inch to the mile maps surveyed c. 1838-9

The Messrs, Dawes, whose principal works are at Milton and Elsecar, about 12 miles from Sheffield, have in various places a large number of blast-furnaces, including two at Milton, four at Elsecar (two entirely new), three completed, and four in course of construction at Frodingham, in Lincolnshire, and four at Denby, in the Derby district, with a large colliery in connection with the latter. The firm have also several mills, engine-works, foundries, &c.

Mining Journal, Vol.XLI, No.1895, Supplement, 16th December 1871, p.1121
Remains of the inclined plane railway between Milton Iron Works and Elsecar

The works at Elsecar, distant rather less than a mile from those at Milton, and to which there is a line of rails, have undergone a very great change during the last year or so.

Mining Journal, Vol.XLI, No.1895, Supplement, 16th December 1871, p.1121
New inventions in action at Dawes works – image of Wilson’s puddling furnace from Engineering journal 8 June 1866, p.376

Old furnaces have been replaced by new ones, and improved machinery has taken the place of that before in use. Puddling and heating furnaces have been erected, to be worked by gas instead of coal, and gas plant has been put down at a very large expenditure. The works, in fact, have been almost entirely altered, at a cost of many thousands of pounds, and everything has been done calculated to economise fuel and labour, promote health, and to largely increase production and the quality of the material produced.

Mining Journal, Vol.XLI, No.1895, Supplement, 16th December 1871, p.1121
Detail from Crutchley’s Railway and Station Map of Yorkshire, c.1862

A line of rails from the two works joins the Manchester, Sheffield, and Lincolnshire line, near to Wath, whilst the canal comes up quite close to the Elsecar Works, and by it large quantities of iron and dross are sent away to Hull and other places.

Mining Journal, Vol.XLI, No.1895, Supplement, 16th December 1871, p.1121
6th Earl Fitzwilliam who oversaw most of Dawes’ time at Elsecar and Milton Ironworks after they took on a lease from 1849 from his father the 5th Earl.

The coal required, as well as some of the stone, is supplied by Earl Fitzwilliam, whose father several years ago entered into a contract to supply the firm with these essentials at the prices which then prevailed, but very different to what they are now.

Mining Journal, Vol.XLI, No.1895, Supplement, 16th December 1871, p.1121
Bringing things nicely back to Hemingfield Colliery

To read more about the ironworks, see our Spotlight page.

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