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Monument record MDR9744 - Britannia Foundry & Engineering Works (site of), Bridge Gate/Duke St, Derby

Type and Period (3)

Protected Status/Designation

  • World Heritage Site
  • World Heritage Site Buffer Zone

Full Description

The Britannia Foundry was established by Weatherhead and Glover in 1818 and soon earned a reputation for producing quality castings. The foundry produced ornamental urns, temples and cast iron window frames for churches and chapels. It was taken over by Marshall Baker and Wright in 1835 and soon began to produce goods for the developing railway system, particularly once Derby became a railway centre after 1840. The firm was taken over by Andrew Handyside in 1848, by which time it was producing a wide range of goods, from railway turntables to stoves and baths, while still making windows, vases, gates etc. Large castings were produced at the foundry, such as a 60ft cast iron footbridge across the Oxford Canal, marked '1837 - Britannia Foundry, Derby'. Handyside developed the firm still further, producing goods both for this country and overseas. The firm in 1848 had two cupolas, a fitting shop and a pattern-makers' shop. By 1868 a brass foundry had been added, where castings of 30cwt could be made. By 1877 there was a malleable cast iron foundry, whereby cast iron was subjected to heat treatment to make it less brittle. The foundry was extended to both sides of Duke Street and sidings were developed on each side to connect with with the GNR system. By 1907 there was a motor cylinder foundry. However, by 1910 the company had collapsed. Two attempts were made to refound it, but the final meeting took place in 1933. (1) By 1818 the firm of Weatherhead, Glover & Co. had been established at the Britannia Foundry, Bridge Gate. The majority of the cast iron balustrades and handrails for the villas of the town were produced there, while the parish church of St John on Bridge Street still retains cast iron window frames made at the foundry. In 1835 Britannia Foundry is described as being on Duke Street, presumably as a result of this street having been laid out. Under Handyside, the firm expanded its range considerably, with exports including bridges for the Indian railways, Australia, South America and Japan. Despite the continuing high reputation of the firm, it had gone into voluntary liquidation by 1911, finally succumbing in 1932. The buildings had mostly disappeared within a few years, and today the site is marked only by the presence of Handyside Street. (2)

Sources/Archives (2)

  • <1> Article in serial: Henson, S. 1990. 'Andrew Handyside and his workforce', Derbyshire Miscellany. Vol 12, pp 112-122.
  • <2> Unpublished document: James, J (University of Nottingham). 1990. The Iron Foundries of Derby in the 19th century, unpublished thesis, University of Nottingham.



Grid reference Centred SK 35270 36867 (167m by 140m) Approximate
World Heritage Site Derwent Valley Mills

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Record last edited

Jun 27 2023 3:41PM

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