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Monument record MDR4677 - Morley Park Ironworks (site of), Ripley

Type and Period (2)

  • (Georgian to Victorian - 1764 AD to 1874 AD)
  • (Georgian to Victorian - 1764 AD to 1874 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

[SK 37994918] Works (Disused) [TI] (1) Two tall coke-iron furnaces on Morley Park Farm can be reached from Rykneld Street by an open cast coal-site approach road. They were built by Francis Hurt, the one to the right and rear of the picture dating from 1780, being the first coke-iron furnace in Derbyshire. The other furnace bears the date 1818. (2) Both furnaces are in a dilapidated condition and have been enclosed by a fence. (3) Morley Park Ironworks, Heage, Derbyshire. Here are two substantially complete cold-blast coke iron furnaces erected by Francis Hurt in 1780 and 1818. The older furnace was possibly the first of its type in Derbyshire. Square, pyramidal furnaces of gritstone, they stand about 36ft high and are built into the hillside to facilitate charging. The works was last in blast about 1875. Although ostensibly protected by Stanton Ironworks the furnaces are in urgent need of sympathetic maintenance; coping stones have been pushed from the top in recent years and the small amount of repair work carried out is singularly crude and unsightly. (4) The pair of coke-iron furnaces are grade II listed, on a square plan, one dated 1780 and the other 1818 with restoration work in 1986. They are tall structures, the sides sloping inwards and rising to a flat top with capping built from coursed squared gritstone with ashlar dressings, quoins and fire brick linings. Both have deeply splayed pointed tapping arches to the west fronts with a small entrance into the kilns to the back under iron lintels. There was formerly a cupola on the right hand, and older, furnace. There is a further building on the right with an arched entrance built against an earth bank. Built for Francis Hurt. (5) SK 382492. Morley Park Iron Works, Heage, scheduled. (6) The purchase of Morley Park by Francis Hurt appears to have been completed in 1767, some three years after he had begun negotiating with the previous owner for supplies of coal and ironstone from the estate. At some point, probably 1780, the first furnace was built on the site. According to Farey in 1811, this was the first furnace in Derbyshire to smelt ironstone with mineral fuel and steam power. By 1782 it seems that Francis Hurt had transferred his ironmaking activities from Alderwasley to Morley Park, with its steam blowing engine, close to his coal and ironstone pits, retaining the higher of the two Alderwasley sites as a forge and mill. Little is known about the early operation of the site, but it can be assumed that, alongside the furnace, a foundry was established to produce a range of general castings. Certainly by 1811, when an inventory was compiled, Morley Park had a furnace and foundry and the stock included both forge and melting pigs. By this time it was among the smaller furnaces in Derbyshire and was not well sited in terms of access to tramroads and canals. In 1811 the site was taken over by John and Charles Mold. They attempted to improve tramroad access, although in fact one was not built until around the end of the 1930s. They also built a second furnace in 1825. Both surviving structures on the site today bear datestones, one showing 1818 and the other being illegible. Nixon [Authority 2] concluded that the undated furnace was of 1780 and the other added in 1818. However, it would now seem that the furnace bearing the date 1818 must be the original furnace refurbished and that the more southerly furnace is that of 1825. The blowing engine house stood to the north of the more northerly furnace. A lease of 1839 refers to a furnace and foundry plus six dwellings, all occupied by workmen. However in 1859 the Molds' business collapsed. The Morley Park furnaces, by now very old fashioned as well as badly located, were not let until 1863 and only lasted until the mid 1870s, probably working for the last time in 1874, after which they were abandoned. The OS map published a few years later shows the buildings, including the two furnaces, engine-house and foundry, plus a gatehouse and some cottages still standing, with the abandoned trackbeds of tramroads running north to the canal and east to collieries at Marehay. After closure the site reverted to agricultural use, while after the Second World War residual coal deposits were extensively worked by opencast. The two furnaces were protected firstly by listing and later by scheduling. Desperately needed conservation work was finally carried out when the site was acquired by the Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust. Finally it was conveyed to the Derbyshire Archaeological Society. Morley Park is the only site of the early coke era in Derbyshire with substantial surface remains and represents a works which operated commercially for nearly a century. (9)

Sources/Archives (9)

  • <1> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1955. 6".
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Nixon, F. 1951. 'The Morley Park iron furnaces', Derbyshire Countryside.
  • <3> Personal Observation: F1 BHS 22-SEP-66.
  • <4> Bibliographic reference: Cossons, N & Hudson, K. 1971-3. Industrial Archaeologists Guide. p 73.
  • <5> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England. List entry number 1108984.
  • <6> Bibliographic reference: Department of the Environment. 1978. Ancient Monuments of England 3.
  • <7> Index: Trent & Peak Archaeological Trust (TPAT). Trent & Peak Archaeological Trust Index: 2594.
  • <8> Index: Council for British Archaeology (CBA). CBA Industrial Archaeology Report Card. Blast Furnaces, Morley Park.
  • <9> Article in serial: Riden, P. 1988. 'The Ironworks at Alderwasley and Morley Park', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 108, pp 77-107.



Grid reference Centred SK 3804 4917 (648m by 385m) Centre

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR398
  • EDR1321

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Record last edited

Oct 27 2023 3:52PM

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