Abstracts of Volume XXI 1999

Issue No 1, Spring 1999

The Rolt Memorial Lecture 1997: New Materials for a New Age: Steel and Concrete Construction in the North of England, 1860-1939
by Michael Stratton

The years around 1900 saw the erection of the first steel-framed and the first major reinforced concrete buildings in Britain. Earlier studies have tended to dismiss them as being few in number and conservative in design, most making little show of their revolutionary structure. This article considers the chronology of these materials in Britain, focusing on the ‘lost decades’ from the 1860s to 1900 when steel became available on a large scale and reinforced concrete was the subject of experiments in the north-east of England. Industrial and technological factors and questions of availability, price and durability are considered. Contemporary reports in journals illuminate the extent to which steel and concrete were used to practical ends, buried under skins of masonry or terracotta. They also highlight who championed the new materials and which groups were hostile to their adoption. The latter part of the article focuses on the large scale use of steel and concrete in the north of England through to the end of the inter-war period.

Broseley Pipeworks
by Richard Hayman & Wendy Horton

Archaeological recording of the former Crown Pipeworks in Broseley has established that since the site was taken out of the common in the early 17th century its buildings were warehouses, offices and dwellings before being converted to a manufactory of clay pipes in 1881. This article discusses the complex phasing of the buildings and their early uses, describes the manufacture of clay pipes at the works between 1881 and 1960 and places the works within the context of the clay industries of the industrial revolution period. It then argues that, in addition to being the most complete surviving example of a clay-pipe manufactory, the works is a valuable document of shifts in the organisation of the factory system consequent upon a declining industry.

Water supplies for steam-powered textile mills
by Roger N. Holden

Water supply was vital to the operation of a steam-powered textile mill. Boiler feed water was needed but textile mill engines were usually condensing engines which required large quantities of cold water for condensing purposes. Typically the amount of condensing water required was 25 to 30 times greater than the amount of boiler feed. Boiler feed could be recycled but condenser feed water would have to be allowed to cool before recycling. Thus the ideal location for a mill was by a ready supply of water such as a river or canal. Failing this a reservoir had to be constructed of sufficient capacity to hold at least one days supply of cooling water. It is this demand for water which explains why mills continued to be constructed adjacent to water courses. This paper mainly refers to the Lancashire cotton district but a similar study could be made in the Yorkshire wool textile districts.

The St. Helens Iron Foundry
by Iain Hedley & Ian Scott

Initial documentary research undertaken by Lancaster University Archaeological Unit (LUAU) in 1995 for “The Hotties Science & Arts Centre Ltd.” (hereafter The Hotties) revealed the existence of a former iron foundry on part of the development site for the wider The World of Glass Project which will portray the technical development and heritage of the glass industry in St. Helens. Between January 1996 and November 1997 LUAU were commissioned by The Hotties to undertake a range of archaeological works resulting in the excavation of a smithy complex. Known as the St. Helens Iron Foundry, and latterly owned by the Daglish family, the site had an international reputation for the casting and building of steam pumping and winding engines for the mining industry. It was particularly successful during the mid-19th century producing locomotives and bridges for the expanding railway network. The foundry was in continuous production from 1798, until its decline and eventual demolition in 1939.

Issue No 2, Autumn 1999

Evolution of the pre-Cornish beam engine house
by David Bick

Over many years the author has made a study of beam engine houses. In this article he analyses the standing remains of early pre-Cornish engine houses, which are defined as buildings for housing engines with indoor vertical cylinders operating outdoor pump-rods via and overhead beam. An Appendix lists some 40 engine houses with substantial above-ground remains.

Nature Conservation and Post-Industrial Landscapes
by John Box

Abandoned pits, quarries and industrial sites can provide new geological exposures as well as new sites for plants and animals to colonise. The range of environmental conditions associated with these sites can lead to the establishment of a range of habitats containing uncommon species and unusual biological communities. Disused railways, tramways and canals provide ‘green corridors’ whose ecological functions need further research but whose nature conservation, historical and social values are evident. The value of post-industrial landscapes to local communities lies both in their present form and in their links with the past. A key part of the redevelopment or reclamation of post-industrial sites should involve the retention of notable archaeological, geological and ecological features combined with habitat creation involving natural re-vegetation, colonisation and succession rather than quick greening or simple landscaping. The landscapes produced by the industrial age need to be conserved just as much as the landscapes derived from the agricultural age.

Power systems in four Gwynedd slate quarries
by David Gwyn

The slate industry of Gwynedd dominated world production of roofing slates and of architectural slabs in the 19th century, but the economics of the early 20th century were far less favourable. Many individual quarries attempted to introduce more cost-effective technology, with mixed results. The following article analyses documentary sources and field-work evidence in order to examine the way in which four quarries made use of a variety of different power sources and methods of power transmission in the years 1898 to 1934, and concludes that the industry continued to be technically innovative in many respects but that the old and the new could be seen working alongside each other and the results of installing new machinery did not ensure long-term prosperity.

Textile Mills for Twente: the case of Beltman versus Stott
by Ronald Stenvert

The textile industry in Twente, in the Netherlands, has always depended heavily on Lancashire for expertise, imported machinery and yarn. To what extent this has also been true for the architectural designs will be discussed in this paper. Most of the buildings for the industry, which consisted mainly of weaving sheds, were, however, designed by local architect-entrepreneurs like G. Beltman. Only when it came to large spinning mills or integrated spinning mills with weaving-sheds, did Lancashire-based architects prove to be better qualified, and, more importantly, cheaper. Sidney Stott was one of these architects working in Twente and elsewhere on the continent, especially in Germany. With the advent of better fireproof reinforced concrete mills, their influence faded fast and they were replaced by emerging local architects like A.G. Beltman.