Coalbrookdale Foundry – Aga Rayburn, Ironbridge, Shropshire

Coalbrookdale Foundry, Ironbridge, Shropshire

The Coalbrookdale Foundry mass-ironmaking was developed, leading to the Industrial Revolution. More recently, casting for Aga cookers were made there.

Visited December 2017 Coalbrookdale, Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire, England.

The history of Coalbrookdale foundry dates back all the way to 1572 when the land was passed to John Brooke who developed coal mining there on a substantial scale. A blast furnace was built at the site to produce iron, which blew up in 1703. It remained derelict until the arrival of Abraham Darby I in 1709. Abraham Darby I set about rebuilding the Coalbrookdale Furnace, using coke as the fuel. His business was that of an iron founder, making cast iron pots and other goods, an activity in which he was particularly successful because of his patented foundry method, which enabled him to produce cheaper pots than his rivals. The furnace was the first coke-fired blast furnace to operate successfully for a prolonged period of time.

The Coalbrookdale Foundry - this area has since been converted into a museum
The Coalbrookdale Foundry – this area has since been converted into a museum

Following the death of Abraham Darby II, Abraham Darby II was brought into the business as an assistant manager when old enough. The Company also became early suppliers of steam engine cylinders in this period. Experiments took place with the application of coke pig iron to the production of bar iron in charcoal finery forges. This proved to be a success, and led to the beginning of a great expansion in coke iron making.

In 1768, the company began to produce the first cast iron rails for railways. In 1778, Abraham Darby III undertook the building of the world’s first cast iron bridge, the iconic Iron Bridge, opened in 1780. The fame of this bridge leads many people today to associate the Industrial Revolution with the neighbouring village of Ironbridge, but in fact most of the work was done at Coalbrookdale, as there was no settlement at Ironbridge in the eighteenth century.

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Workers boots hung on the front gate
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Workers boots hung on the front gate

The blast furnaces were closed down, perhaps as early as the 1820s, but the foundries remained in use. The Coalbrookdale Company became part of an alliance of iron founding companies who were absorbed by Allied Iron founders Limited in 1929. This was in turn taken over by Glynwed which has since become Aga Foodservice. Castings for Aga Rayburn cookers were produced at Coalbrookdale until its closure in November 2017.

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Delivery yard, where the raw materials and scrap iron arrive
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Delivery yard, where the raw materials and scrap iron arrive
Coalbrookdale Foundry - One of the two cupolas, seen from the melt shop delivery yard
Coalbrookdale Foundry – One of the two cupolas, seen from the melt shop delivery yard
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Archive image of molten iron being taken from the cupola
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Archive image of molten iron being taken from the cupola
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Number 1 cupola. This mini blast furnace melted the iron ready to be cast.
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Number 1 cupola. This mini blast furnace melted the iron ready to be cast.
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Number 2 furnace
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Number 2 furnace
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Above the furnaces
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Above the furnaces
 
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Compressors
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Compressors
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Rear of the furnaces
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Rear of the furnaces
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Ladles hanging from an overhead rail system for transporting molten iron
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Ladles hanging from an overhead rail system for transporting molten iron
Coalbrookdale Foundry - One of the ladles
Coalbrookdale Foundry – One of the ladles
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Moving into the casting area where we find racks of moulds
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Moving into the casting area where we find racks of moulds
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Patterns laid out on the floor
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Patterns laid out on the floor
 
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Patterns laid out on the floor
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Patterns laid out on the floor
Coalbrookdale Foundry - The main casting shop contains a fair bit of automated casting equipment
Coalbrookdale Foundry – The main casting shop contains a fair bit of automated casting equipment
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Beside the production line with wagons on rails for transporting castings
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Beside the production line with wagons on rails for transporting castings
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Casting production line
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Casting production line
 
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Casting production line
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Casting production line
Coalbrookdale Foundry - End of the casting line
Coalbrookdale Foundry – End of the casting line
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Casting machine, where the molten iron is pored into
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Casting machine, where the molten iron is pored into
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Archive image of molten iron being poured into cast
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Archive image of molten iron being poured into cast
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Automated production lines
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Automated production lines
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Automated production lines
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Automated production lines
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Tanks and conveyors
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Tanks and conveyors
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Towards the end of the factory we find more machinery
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Towards the end of the factory we find more machinery
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Forklift trucks
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Forklift trucks
 
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Cherry picker
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Cherry picker
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Extraction hoods in an old part of the site
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Extraction hoods in an old part of the site
Coalbrookdale Foundry - The workshops shop contained a handful of machines
Coalbrookdale Foundry – The workshops shop contained a handful of machines
Coalbrookdale Foundry - A pair of drills
Coalbrookdale Foundry – A pair of drills
 
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Drill-presses
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Drill-presses
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Another drill press in the machine shop
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Another drill press in the machine shop
Coalbrookdale Foundry - Finally, some of their finished products - an Aga in the canteen along with a Rangemaster fridge
Coalbrookdale Foundry – Finally, some of their finished products – an Aga in the canteen along with a Rangemaster fridge

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