Excavations were carried out for Derbyshire Archaeological Society in 1973 on the site of Joseph Butler's ironworks, in advance of destruction by opencast coal and clay mining. The Wingerworth works, consisting of two blast furnaces, a foundry and ancillary buildings, was opened in 1780 by the firm of Matthews and Butler. About five years later it passed into the hands of Joseph Butler alone, who remained the owner throughout the period of the Napoleonic wars. In the slump after 1815 the Wingerworth works was one of several in north-east Derbyshire to go out of blast, and by the time of the compilation of the 1823 list the works had become completely defunct. The works were built on a site where ample supplies of ironstone were readily available near the surface. Butler's ironstone mines stretched away to the south of the works for a distance of over a mile. The stone was brought to the furnaces by means of a railway (see SMR 15337), while coke for the works was brought by road from Lings colliery, 3 miles to the east. The site represents one of the earliest coke furnaces in Derbyshire. Excavation revealed the general position of the main buildings, casting floor and slag heaps. The works was built beside a small stream immediately beneath a steeply sloping bank, which appears to have been artificially steepened and the top levelled. The base of one of the furnaces, which were built into the bank to facilitate loading, was located, revealing a substantial structure, some 8m square, surviving in parts to a height of over 2m. It was built of local sandstone with a yellow clay core. A retaining wall built against the bank was also partially cleared, as was the base of what may have been one of the walls of the engine house. Finds consisted of a large quantity of salt-glaze earthenware, presumably of local manufacture, and a rail from the tramway on the site. (1, 2)
As far as is known, this works was powered by steam rather than water. The site is marked 'Furnace' (plot no. 516) on a map of 1819. The land-tax assessments in the Derbyshire Record Office suggest that the works ceased to operate around the end of the Napoleonic Wars, ie c. 1815-16. The site has been completely destroyed by opencasting and restoration for agricultural use. (3)
Bibliographic reference: Riden P. 1973. 'Excavations at Wingerworth Ironworks, Derbyshire, 1973', Bulletin of the Historical Metallurgy Group. Volume 7, p 48.
Article in serial: Riden P. 1984. 'Joseph Butler, coal and iron master, 1763-1837', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 104, pp 87-95.
Unpublished document: Edwards, D. 2005. Wingerworth waterpower sites - notes on several SMR entries.
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Centred SK 38368 66234 (78m by 113m)
WINGERWORTH, NORTH EAST DERBYSHIRE, DERBYSHIRE
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Jul 31 2017 4:50PM
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