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IND-ARCH  July 2002

IND-ARCH July 2002


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Re: Wortley Top Forge


Peter King <[log in to unmask]>


Peter King <[log in to unmask]>


Tue, 16 Jul 2002 10:24:45 +0100





text/plain (337 lines)

It is now several years since I did my detailed research on the history of
Wortley. My object was to draw attention to the importance of the site,
but nevertheless point out that certain of the published views on the site
are not necessarily quite correct.

There a number of minor points on which I must take issue with you. For
example 1695 is the last time Upper Bank Furnace was used, not the date it
was built. Cotton, Spencer and others on the one hand and Hayford, Fell and
others entered into a joint arrangement concerning all the Yorkshire
furnaces. They did not acquire any other interest in the Duke of Norfolk's
Works at Sheffield until William Spencer was admitted to that partnership in

These are relatively complicated issues that I would prefer to deal with
off-list at this stage.

Peter King,
49, Stourbridge Road,
West Midlands

telephone 01562-720368
----- Original Message -----
From: Dr. Chris Morley <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: 15 July 2002 15:32
Subject: Wortley Top Forge

Dear Peter,

Perhaps I did not make myself clear in my e-mail to the List.

The site upon which the Wortley Tin Mill was built, in 1743 by John
I, was originally a bloomery furnace of which we have a lease dated 1621
relet the premises and site to a partnership. This partnership had taken
the Bloomsmithy from others who had an existing twenty-one year lease which
takes us back to 1600.

The Old Wire Mill was established in 1624 in a fulling mill that had
a short lived bloomery mentioned in 1567 on the river Don NEAR to
actually in the Ecclesiastical parish of Silkstone and being just over the
border of the ecclesiastical parsh of Tankersley in the chapelry of Wortley.

The Corn Mills at Wortley were nearer to Wortley than the Old Wire Mill,
there were two, although they did not exist at the same time. Corn Mill No.
became the Low Forge, and Corn Mill No. 2 was built upon a site between the
Low Forge and the Tin Mill Bloomery site.

James Cockshutt put in the first puddling furnace and rolled iron rod in a
rod mill suitable for wire drawing at the Wortley Tilt Mill. Other puddling
furaces were put in at the Top Forge and Low Forge. At the Tin Mill site
reverboratory reheating furnaces were in use to reheat blooms for plate and
sheet rolling, a practise that was carried on there until the Tin Mill site
was closed and dismantled (blown up) in the late 1880s.

The dates that my recent research for an updated version of the History of
the Wortley Iron Works are as follows:


1567 Margaret Corbett (nee Wortley).
        Thurgoland Furnace (Bloomsmithy). Almost certainly this was
into a Fulling Mill, and then into the Old Wire Mill in 1624?

1600 Mathew Stafford, Ambrose Wood, John Turneley
        Wortley Bloomery on later Tin Mill site

1606 Robert Swyfte, Robert Greaves
        Silkstone Smithies near the village of Silkstone

1612 - 1614 Barnby family of Cawthorne
        Built Colnbridge Forge

1618 Sir Francis Fane, Sir Edward Barrett, Robert Leigh, George
John Spencer I
        Kirkstall Forge Bloomery

1621 Sir Francis Fane, Sir Richard Beaumont, Francis Burdett, Edmund
        Wortley Bloomery on Tin Mill site

1624 Ambrose Wood II
        Old Wire Mill (ex. Fulling Mill)

1624 - 1658 Tilt Mill erected 1/2 mile upstream of Top Forge site

1637 Sir Francis Wortley II
        Bloomery at Top Forge established

1638 - 1643 All Wortley family property handed over to Trustees for Dowager
Countess of Devonshire - mother of Sir Francis Wortley II (he was in
financial trouble).

1638 William Smyth
        Finery Forge at Low Forge site

1638 William Fownes I
        Wortley Top Forge Bloomery

        Midgley Bank Blast Furnace (Nether) built.

1638 William Cotton II
        Came from Cheshire to manage Wortley Top and Low Forges
        Converted Bloomery at Top Forge to a Finery

1642 Robert Woolorth, George Dancy, Henry Haughton
        Wortley Bloomery on Tin Mill site

1643 Cannon Shot forged at the Low Forge site finery?

1651 John Spencer I, Gilbert Fownes
        Midgley Bank Nether Blast Furnace, Barnby Blast Furnace

1657 William Cotton II mentioned as being of Wortley Forge

1658 William Fownes II, John SpencerI, John Banckes, Russell Allsop
        Kirkstall Forge (By now a Finery Forge using Barnby Furnace pig

1658 William Cotton II
        Clerk at Kirkstall Forge as well as Wortley Forges (Top & Low)

1658 John Spencer I
        Wortley Top and Low Forges

1658 Edward Spencer, Russell Allsop (in trust for John Spencer III)
        Wortley Top and Low Forges

1660 William Cotton II inherited the property of Elizabeth Fownes (nee

1665 Thomas Dickin
        Colnbridge Forge

1667 William Cotton II retired

1675 Banckes, Allsop, and Fownes, released Kirkstall Forge & Barnby
Furnace to Dickin I and Cotton III

1675 Death of Lionel Copley of the Duke of Norfolk's Ironworks.

1675 William Simpson, Francis Barlow, Dennis Heyford, and (later?) John
Simpson -
        Chappel Furnace, Attercliffe Forge, Wadsley Forge (were D o N

1676 Thomas Dickin I, William Cotton III, John Spencer II
        Kirkstall Forge

1679 John Spencer III joined Dickin I and Cotton III
        Kirkstall Finery Furnace and Barnby Blast Furnace

1679 William Simpson
        Wortley Top and Low Forges, and the Midgley Bank Nether Blast

1679 Dennis Heyford
        Became possessed of the Rockley Blast Furnace, etc.

1683 William Simpson
        Wortley Top & Low Forges and Nether Bank Furnace - extended lease to

1684 William Wood
        Wortley Bloomery on Tin Mill site

1685 Thomas Dickin II , William Cotton III
        Colnebridge Forge

1686 Thomas Dickin I, William Cotton III, John Spencer III
        Rebuilt Barnby Blast Furnace

1689} Two leases to John Eyre
        Wortley Top & Low Forges and Bank Blast Furnace

1690 William Fell I, William Simpson, Dennis Heyford, Francis Barlow,
        Chappel Furnace, Wadsley & Attercliffe Forges, etc. - called the
of Norfolk’s Iron Works.

1690 Eleanor Cotton (nee Fownes), William Cotton II, Thomas Dickin II
        Colnbridge Forge

        Midgley Bank Upper Blast Furnace built

1695 Thomas Dickin II,
        Wortley Top & Low Forges and Nether Bank Furnace 71/2 years lease
        extended up to 1706 in partnership with John Spencer III

1696 Cotton, Dickin, Spencer acquired an interest in Duke of Norfolk’s
Iron Works, etc.

1702 John Spencer III, Nicholas Burley, Mathew Woodhead
        Wortley Forges, Kirkstall Forge, Colnesbridge Forge, Bank and Barnby
Blast Furnaces, - and shares in the Duke of Norfolk’s Iron Works

1706 John Spencer III
        Wortley Forges, Bank Blast Furnaces
        Brought Mathew Wilson into partnership & resident manager at

1716 John Spencer III brouht in to help his father II to manage affairs

1720} John Spencer III sole signature on Wortley leases

1722 Jonathan Swinden leased to Mathew Wilson (of Wortley Forge)
        The Old Wire Mill and a Slitting Mill (the Tilt Mill?)

1722 Mathew Wilson, James Oates, Mr Burley
        Kirkstall and Colnbridge Forges

1723 Mathew Wilson, James Oates, William Murgatroyd, with William and
Edward Spencer
        Old Wire Mill and Tilt

1727-28 Matthew Wilson
        New Wire Mill built

1729 James Munds
        The Old Wire Mill and Slitting Mill

1730 The Old Wire Mill and the Tilt ceased operating

1738 William Spencer sole signature on lease although in partnership with
Mathew Wilson
        Wortley Forges

1739 Mathew Wilson died leaving everything to John Cockshutt I

1739 John Cockshutt I re-opens Old Wire Mill and Tilt

1743 John Cockshutt I,
        Obtains control over Wortley Forges, Bank Furnace, Old Wire Mill,

1743 John Cockshutt I
        Built Tin Mill and sheet rolling mill on old Tin Mill Bloomery site

1750 John Cockshutt I, Joseph Broadbent in equal partnership.
        Wortley Forges, Bank Furnace, Old Wire Mill, Tilt, and several
        that belonged to Broadbent.

1762 Joseph Broadbent died and Thomas Broadbent (his son) became a

1774 John Cockshutt I died nd John Cockshutt II became partner

1782 Thomas Broadben bankrupt John Cockshutt II sole owner with mortgages

1798 John Cockshutt II died James Cockshutt took over
        the Old Wire Mill, the New Wire Mill, the Tilt Mill, the Top Forge,
the Low Forge, the Tin Mill

1810 Bank and Bretton Blast Furnaces closed down.

1814 James Cockshutt closed down the Tin plating plant converted it to
plate & sheet rolling

1819 James Cockshutt died
        Wortley Iron & Wire Works sold

1824 Wire works sold off
        Iron Works kept as a whole by Earl of Wharncliffe

1824 Vincent Corbett
        Iron Works - Top and Low Forge, Tin Mill

1824 Joseph Sanderson
        Old Wire Works

1824 Joseph Dyson, Mr Poyton
        The Tilt

1824 Joseph Sanderson
        The New Wire Mil

1825 Vincent Corbett
        Low Forge converted to a powerful sheet rolling mill

1847 Attempts to sell off the Iron Works

1852 Andrews, Burrows & Co.
        Top and Low Forges, Tin Mill

1871 Thomas Andrews & Co.
        Top and Low Forges

1887 Tin Mill plant ‘blown up’ and the buildings demolished

1907 Thomas Andrews
        Wortley Iron & Steel Works & Co. at Top and Low Forges

1908 Thomas Andrews & Co.
        Pulled out from Wortley to The Royds Works, Sheffield.

1908 John and Benjamin Birdsell
        Wortley Iron Company at Low Forge site - Top Forge disused

1929 Wortley Iron Company bankrupt
        All work ceased at Top and Low Forges.

    Wortley Investments Ltd. attempt to convert Top and Low Forges to a
'Pleasure Garden'.

1939? Ministry of Works declare Top Forge an 'Ancient Monument'.

1953 Society for the Preservation of Old Sheffield Tools - later the
Sheffield Trades Historical Society - later still the South Yorkshire
Industrial History Society - acquire Top Forge and commence renovations
and preservation work.

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