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Monument record MDR12419 - Vulcan Works (site of), Bridge Street, Langley Mill

Type and Period (3)

  • (Victorian to Late 20th Century - 1874 AD to 1974 AD)
  • (Victorian to Late 20th Century - 1874 AD to 1974 AD)
  • (Victorian to Late 20th Century - 1874 AD to 1974 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

In 1874 the G R Turner company constructed the Vulcan Iron Works at Langley Mill. The company had originated in 1868 when George R Turner and a Mr Pender set up a business repairing railway wagons and manufacturing small engineering items for local collieries. Turner is described as a brass and iron founder in 1877. The company's first order was for 100 all-steel wheelbarrows, followed by an order for 50 railway wagons. Turners subsequently concentrated largely on the production of railway rolling stock and were listed as carriage and wagon wheel manufacturers in Kelly's 1891 directory of Derbyshire. The Vulcan Works expanded during the later 19th century, a process which continued into the 20th century. The site included its own railway infrastructure and appears to have taken over buildings at the southwest end of the site which were originally shown as part of the Station Works on the 1881 OS map. By 1903 the company were making vans, railway wagons, mining machinery and fabricated steelwork. A valuation of the works at around this time lists each shop and its machinery and tools, giving a detailed insight into the activities being carried out and the products being manufactured, although unfortunately there is no accompanying map. During the First World War the Iron Works expanded further whilst under the control of the War Office. The decline in demand for railway wagons led to the company being taken over by the group United Steel Companies Ltd in 1958/9. The works became nationalised and part of British Steel in 1967. The site was acquired by Redpath Dorman Long in 1970 and used to develop the company's radio-controlled cranes. The works closed in 1974, was acquired by British Road Services and then bought by Heanor Haulage in 1996. An archaeological survey of the site was carried out in 2010 following the purchase of the site by ASDA Stores. By this time very little of the once vast integrated complex survived. Only the remnants of two structures had any historical significance, having been constructed between 1899 and 1903, while only the west wall of several former structures had been retained along the western boundary of the site. Small sections of the internal railway network were identified, comprising isolated sections of track; however it was determined during excavation that these were all later additions within modern concrete surfaces. (1) Eleven trenches were excavated on the site of the former Vulcan Works. These identified several discreet phases of development. The initial building constructed by G R Turner in 1874 seems to have been considerably shorter than the building shown on the 1st ed. 25" OS map of 1881. It was constructed from brick in a pier and panel style, probably allowing air flow through the low walled sides, open to the north. Evidence of an entrance to the north-west side of the building was located, together with a substantial hot air flue and a structure that may have been the primary drive engine location in the central portion of the building. Several machine bases and a press were uncovered and evidence for re-melting and forming of metals was found. The pre-1881 northern extension of the factory was located, with at least two phases of presses and heavy lifting gear. Subsequent re-modelling of the central eastern portion of the factory between 1885 and 1900 involved the partial demolition of the eastern wall and the addition of a building which also contained machine bases and heavy lifting apparatus. Expansion of the factory continued and by 1900 the eastern wall of the original building was demolished, and buildings containing a crane base and machinery re-used from the earlier phases were identified. The western wall appears to have remained intact but lines of stanchion bases within the range suggest a realignment of the roofing structure. The factory floor was re-laid using a concrete raft. (2) Extant and former buildings associated with the Vulcan Iron Works were investigated through a programme of historical research, building recording and archaeological trenching in advance of a new supermarket development at Heanor Haulage, Langley Mill. The Vulcan Iron Works was constructed by G R Turner in 1874 and produced work-renowned railway rolling stock through to the 1960s. The investigations identified seven broad phases of development. The primary drive engine location, machine bases and presses were found, together with evidence for re-melting and forming wrought iron, steel and possibly brass, suggesting that the Works may have had a cupola furnace for re-melting cast iron. The location of machinery and working areas within the early phases of the works suggests that the factory buildings at this time were mainly involved in the production of rail or mining products. Although evidence for casting and the necessary rolling machinery capable of producing the lengthy bar for railway wagon frames or wheel making structures could not be identified, there was clear evidence the re-melting, smelting and pressing and finishing ('fettling') of products including brass and iron. Documentary evidence shows that by Phase 4 (1900-1904), the Vulcan Works was a substantial integrated factory complex combining a foundry, engineering works and an assembly production line within the site. (3)

Sources/Archives (3)

  • <1> Unpublished document: Dawson, L (Wessex Archaeology). 2010. Heanor Haulage, Langley Mill, Derbyshire - Historic Building Recording.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Dransfield, N (Wessex Archaeology). 2010. Heanor Haulage, Langley Mill, Derbyshire - Archaeological Investigations Assessment Report.
  • <3> Article in serial: Dransfield, N & Moore, C (Wessex Archaeology). 2012. 'The Vulcan Ironworks, Langley Mill', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal.



Grid reference Centred SK 4505 4722 (210m by 171m)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR2852
  • EDR2831

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External Links (0)

Record last edited

Jul 16 2015 8:41AM

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