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)
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.
Article in serial: Historical Metallurgy Group. 1963. Bulletin of the Historical Metallurgy Group. Number 1.
Article in serial: Historical Metallurgy Group. 1964. Bulletin of the Historical Metallurgy Group 1964. Number 2. p. 1.
Article in serial: Historical Metallurgy Group. 1964. Bulletin of the Historical Metallurgy Group 1964. Number 3. p. 6.
Article in serial: Historical Metallurgy Group. 1984. Bulletin of the Historical Metallurgy Group 1984. Volume 18, Number 1. p. 15-16.
Bibliographic reference: Riden, P. 1993. A Gazetteer of Charcoal-fired Blast Furnaces in Great Britain in use since 1660. 2nd ed.. pp 90-91.
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SK 379 239 (point) (Approximate)
MELBOURNE, SOUTH DERBYSHIRE, DERBYSHIRE
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Jan 26 2016 11:51AM
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