Coalbrookdale Foundry – Aga Rayburn, Ironbridge, Shropshire

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

Coalbrookdale Foundry, Ironbridge, Shropshire
 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Number 1 cupola. This mini blast furnace melted the iron ready to be cast.

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Number 2 furnace

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Number 2 furnace

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Above the furnaces

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Above the furnaces

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Compressors

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Compressors

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Rear of the furnaces

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Rear of the furnaces

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Ladles hanging from an overhead rail system for transporting molten iron

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Ladles hanging from an overhead rail system for transporting molten iron

Coalbrookdale Foundry - One of the ladles

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – One of the ladles

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Moving into the casting area where we find racks of moulds

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Moving into the casting area where we find racks of moulds

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Patterns laid out on the floor

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Patterns laid out on the floor

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Patterns laid out on the floor

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Patterns laid out on the floor

Coalbrookdale Foundry - The main casting shop contains a fair bit of automated casting equipment

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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

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Beside the production line with wagons on rails for transporting castings

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Casting production line

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Casting production line

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Casting production line

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Casting production line

Coalbrookdale Foundry - End of the casting line

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – End of the casting line

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Casting machine, where the molten iron is pored into

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Casting machine, where the molten iron is pored into

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Archive image of molten iron being poured into cast

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Archive image of molten iron being poured into cast

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Automated production lines

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Automated production lines

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Automated production lines

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Automated production lines

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Tanks and conveyors

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Tanks and conveyors

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Towards the end of the factory we find more machinery

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Towards the end of the factory we find more machinery

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Forklift trucks

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Forklift trucks

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Cherry picker

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Cherry picker

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Extraction hoods in an old part of the site

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Extraction hoods in an old part of the site

Coalbrookdale Foundry - The workshops shop contained a handful of machines

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – The workshops shop contained a handful of machines

Coalbrookdale Foundry - A pair of drills

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – A pair of drills

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Drill-presses

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Drill-presses

Coalbrookdale Foundry - Another drill press in the machine shop

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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

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Coalbrookdale Foundry – Finally, some of their finished products – an Aga in the canteen along with a Rangemaster fridge

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