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I think your making invalid assumptions on the early use of coke/coal, particulaly in your mention of A. Darby.
My own recent research has shown the very direct links between Dud Dudley, Thomas & Paul Foley, Richard & Edward Knight, and Abraham Darby during the 17th century. Dud Dudley claimed in his “Metallum Martis” of 1665 to have perfected the use of coal in furnaces to produce Iron in the 1620’s. Over 40 years later he claims his former works are still using coal, and documents from the accounts of Philip Foley 1668 show the purchase of Pit-cole Iron from their furnaces.
The link between the various parties is thus:
1620’s Dud Dudley patents use of coal in furnaces & forges
1640’s English Civil War – Dud Dudley on the losing side of Charles 1st, Foley’s take over his works. Dud Dudley states these works are still using Pit-cole in 1665. Accounts of the works in 1668 corroborate this.
Early 1700’s Paul Foley takes over Willey Furnace, later controlled by Richard Knight whose son advises A.Darby to patent the use of coke to produce Iron, which he morally never does.
From: [log in to unmask] [mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Paul Vigor
Sent: 27 October 1999 16:59
Subject: Early use of coke in British iron industry.
Can anyone help me? I am trying to locate information/contacts with regard to the spread of coked coal as a fuel in the British iron industry.
It has long been accepted that coke was first successfully employed to smelt iron by Abraham Darby I at Coalbrookdale in 1709; and that this innovation was thence commercially employed at other local iron works from circa 1750. Assuming that the period 1750-1758 finally confirmed the fuel's value as a viable alternative to charcoal, how long did it take to spread out from the East Shropshire coalfield?
I understand that coke eventually reached Cinderford in the Forest of Dean in 1795 (Cross, A.G.R. (1982) Old Industrial Sites in Wyedean (D.H.Evans: Wyedean) 5, 13); and, according to J.S. Hodgkinson, it may have been used at Verdley Wood Furnace (Fernhurst, West Sussex) in the latter half of the 18C (Cleere, H & Crossley, D. (1995) The Iron Industry of the Weald (Merton Priory Press: Cardiff) 392). However, with the exception of these references I remain little the wiser!
Has anyone studied the above subject? If this is the case I would value any assistance you could give.
Thank you in anticipation.