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Scheduled Monument record MDR7798 - Butterley Ironworks (site of), Ripley

Type and Period (9)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Butterley Ironworks (SK401517): Most of the structures remaining from the early days of the pioneer Butterley Ironworks - founded in 1790 as Benjamin Outram and Co. - are in the north-west section of the site bounded by the Alfreton - Ripley road and the former private road to Golden Valley. The most visible remains from the outside are the octagonal sandstone gatehouse (SK401517) and the shop, now used as the offices of Butterley Precision Engineering Ltd (SK 402517). Both date from the early years of the company as witnessed by the rough coal measures sandstone in the lower courses of the building. Inside the works the most impressive structure is the massive sandstone embankment in front of which the various generations of blast furnaces were built (SK402516). Datestones of 1791 and 1838 incorporated into the embankment record the dates of the first two sets of blast furnaces. Most of the other buildings on this extensive site are later structures, notably the large erecting shops of Butterley Engineering Ltd, largely used in recent years for the fabrication of sections of major civil engineering structures such as road bridges and parts of nuclear power stations. A small part of the once extensive internal private railway system remains in use for transporting road-delivered steel bars from the top plane to the fabricating shop. The system remains linked to the main railway system by a now little-used spur to the Midland railway trust's working line and by that Company's link to the Erewash Valley main line. Detached from the main site is the wooden 'Engine House' (SK405517) to the east of the former private road. (1) An area of the Butterley Estate was purchased by Francis Beresford and Benjamin Outram in 1790, who founded Benjamin Outram & Co. The company was renamed the Butterley Company in 1805 following Outram's death. Initially the focus was on coal mining, but an iron working forge with a single cold-blast furnace was soon established, supplemented shortly afterwards by two further furnaces. This may not have been the first example of iron working on the estate, as Farey noted old slag deposits in the early 19th century, probably from a bloomery. The forge at Butterley was supplemented in the early 1800s by a further foundry and a boring and turning mill for engine manufacture. An inventory of 1813 lists stores, cupolas, model shops, smiths' shops, fitting shops and lathes, many of which were steam-powered. By this time brick-kilns had also been constructed. After a slump at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, further expansion commenced in the 1820s, aided by the creation of the Ironworks own railway system and later by the Company's involvement in the Midland Counties Railway. By 1862 the Butterley Company produced one-fifth of all the iron produced in Derbyshire. Contemporary illustrations and cartographic sources allow the expansion of the Ironworks to be charted, together with the recent decline and loss of buildings. A rapid inspection of surviving buildings indicated that the core of the historic foundry is located in the north-western part of the site, with a range of building styles, in brick and sandstone, that date from the 19th century. (2) Excavation within and adjacent to the site of the Victoria Foundry in 2005 uncovered archaeological remains likely to have been associated with the Foundry. Little documentary evidence seems to be available on the Victoria Foundry but it is thought to have dated to the earliest phase of construction at Butterley. However, due to the severely truncated state of the archaeological remains, it was not possible either to date them or to understand the industrial processes that they represented. (3) A survey of buildings was carried out at the former Butterley Ironworks site in 2005, prior to their demolition and the redevelopment of the site for mixed use. Buildings recorded included a garage block that was probably built during the 1920s, a Transformer Station of the 1950s, office buildings of probable WWI date, and the surviving remains - mainly in the form of walls - of the 19th century Victoria Works. (4) Further work in January 2007 recorded a number of former loading shafts connected with the Cromford Canal tunnel that ran beneath the Butterley Works. (5) A small part of the site was scheduled in early 2013. This comprises the remains of 19th cenury blast furnaces, part of the Cromford Canal tunnel which runs beneath the site, and an underground wharf. (6) 'Butterley Engineering' founded from Jessop and Outram's engineering works in 1968, and continued until the firm went into liquidation in 2009. (7)

Sources/Archives (7)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D (ed.). 1993. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology: A Gazeteer of Sites Part III: Borough of Amber Valley.
  • <2> Unpublished document: Bell, S (ARCUS). 2003. Archaeological Desk-based Assessment of the Butterley Works, Ripley, Derbyshire.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Edmund Taylor (Northamptonshire Archaeology). 2005. Archaeological Investigations at The Butterley Works, Ripley, Derbyshire.
  • <4> Unpublished document: John Samuels Archaeological Consultants (JSAC). 2005. A Report on Building Recording at the Butterley Works, Ripley, Derbyshire.
  • <5> Unpublished document: Greg Farnworth-Jones (ULAS). 2007. An Archaeological Watching Brief at Butterley Works, Butterley Hill, Ripley. SMR Doc. No.1005.
  • <6> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 2013. Scheduling Notification: Butterley Works blast furnaces, canal tunnel and underground wharf. List entry no. 1404832.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Butterley Engineering. 'Butterley, engineering excellence since 1790'.



Grid reference Centred SK 40277 51554 (446m by 459m)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (7)

  • EDR2368
  • EDR3347
  • EDR2841
  • EDR2911
  • EDR2367
  • EDR3318
  • EDR2369

Please contact the HER for details.

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Record last edited

Jun 22 2023 3:27PM

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