Monument record MDR7241 - Blast Furnace (site of), Melbourne

Type and Period (1)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

Excavations on the site of a furnace were conducted for some years in the late 1950s by Mr W H Bailey and Mr E S Brook of the Sheffield Trades Historical Society, prior to flooding of the valley to form a reservoir for Leicester. Important remains were discovered of a comparatively early iron-smelting blast furnace which may have been in use from the latter years of the 17th century, possibly succeeding a bloomery on the same site, although documentary evidence was lacking. (1) The remains of a charcoal blast furnace were excavated by Mr Bill Bailey in the early 1960s before they were submerged beneath Staunton Harold Reservoir; the site is not yet fully published but notes can be found in the Historical Metallurgy Bulletin (3-6). Further information was acquired from the excavator's daughter. The early history of the site poses problems. A dammed pond was present at the furnace site by 1625 and there are documentary references to 'Hammermen of Melbourne' in 1657 and 1659 (implying a forge somewhere within the parish). The excavators of the furnace noted large amounts of bloomery or finery slag in the shape of 'birds nests' - this description is very reminiscent of the 'mossers' of slag produced by fineries. Combining these lines of evidence, it is suggested that a forge was present at the later furnace site by 1625, remaining in operation until after 1659. Nothing is known of the management of this forge'; it might well have refined the pig iron produced at Staunton Harold Furnace, which lies one mile upstream. By 1735 a blast furnace was present; this furnace was leased from 1758 to 1772 by the Lloyds, and probably closed down when they abandoned the lease. A reference in the Hastings Papers indicates that the furnace smelted a mixture of local ores with 'Lancashire ore' (Lake district haematite) which, being phosphorus-free, would improve the quality of the iron. (2) Burdett's map of Derbyshire (1762-7) marks a furnace south of Melbourne on a stream called New Brook, which flows south into the Trent. This can be identified with a furnace described as 'down' in the list of closures between 1750 and 1788 and said to have been worked by Messrs Lloyd. The site was located by W H Bailey in the early 1960s and excavated by him. Bailey believed that the furnace was established about 1720, although the earliest firm evidence seems to be its appearance n an estate map of 1735. The furnace was leased by the Earl f Huntingdon to the Lloyds of Birmingham in 1758 as their only venture into smelting, and worked in conjunction with a forge at Burton-on-Trent. Te furnace was surrendered by the Lloyds in 1772 and early the following year the bellows were removed and taken to Wingerworth furnace, presumably to be reused there. (7)

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Article in serial: Anon. 1959. 'Industrial Archaeology', Derbyshire Archaeological Journal. Volume 79, pp 132-133.
  • <2> Article in serial: Cranstone, D. 1985. 'The iron industry of the Ashby coalfield', Bulletin of the Leicestershire Industrial Historic Society. Number 8, pp 23-31.
  • <3> Article in serial: Historical Metallurgy Group. 1963. Bulletin of the Historical Metallurgy Group. Number 1.
  • <4> Article in serial: Historical Metallurgy Group. 1964. Bulletin of the Historical Metallurgy Group 1964. Number 2. p. 1.
  • <5> Article in serial: Historical Metallurgy Group. 1964. Bulletin of the Historical Metallurgy Group 1964. Number 3. p. 6.
  • <6> Article in serial: Historical Metallurgy Group. 1984. Bulletin of the Historical Metallurgy Group 1984. Volume 18, Number 1. p. 15-16.
  • <7> Bibliographic reference: Riden, P. 1993. A Gazetteer of Charcoal-fired Blast Furnaces in Great Britain in use since 1660. 2nd ed.. pp 90-91.



Grid reference SK 379 239 (point) (Approximate)

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Record last edited

Jan 26 2016 11:51AM

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