Cuffley Industrial Heritage Society

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Cuffley Industrial Heritage Society

2010 Study tour of Sheffield

Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, Sheffield. Sheffield is world renowned for its production of knives and its cutlery, but in earlier times it was known for its metal cutting instruments. Abbeydale, which has been renovated with the help of the S Yorkshire Industrial History Society, is a unique eighteenth century industrial works. It was one of the largest water-powered sites on the River Sheaf. The main products of the site were agricultural scythes, and other edge tools, such as grass hooks and hay knives. It is a Grade 1 Listed building and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

A dam powered four waterwheels, which drove massive tilt hammers for flattening the metal, bellows for the forger’s hearth, giant grindstones (in the grinding hull) for sharpening the blades, and a boring lathe. Also on the site is a steam engine, built by Davy Brothers of Sheffield and installed in 1855. The engine was an additional source of power for grinding if the water levels fell too low to run the waterwheel.

The Crucible Furnace at Abbeydale is the only one of its kind in the world which still survives intact. It was built about 1830, and supplied the works with quality steel for toolmaking. The building also houses a pot Shop, where clay crucibles were made for the furnace, and a Charge Room where the ingredients for the steel were prepared and weighed. Temperatures in the crucible furnace reached 1600oC.

The Tilt Forge was built in 1785 and houses two massive tilt hammers inside. The hammers were driven by the site‘s main waterwheel, and the forgemaster and hammer man sat before them, making crown scythes. This was done by forge-welding a piece of crucible steel between two pieces of wrought iron, like a sandwich.It was in the Grinding Hall (6 grindstones and 2 glazing stones

built 1817) that edge tools were sharpened. The stones were 6ft in diameter when new, and hung in a trough filled with water. Finished blades were painted and then stored in warehouses on site, before being packed in straw rope to be sent worldwide


Kelham Island Museum houses objects, pictures and archive material from Sheffield’s industrial past. It stands on a 900 yr old man made island. There is a working Beam Engine, and there will be a guided tour along the River Don Furnace Trail.


The Speedwell Cavern, Castleton

The Speedwell Cavern consists of a worked out old Lead Mine with several natural chambers and an underground canal dug through the rock in the 1770s. Exploration of the caverns and an nderground boat trip will be undertaken.


Eyam, Plague Village.

The historic village Eyam (pronounced ‘eem’), became famous during the Black Plague Deaths of 1665. An outbreak of the plague was contained when the villagers decided to isolate themselves from the surrounding communities. It was also known that some of the villagers were genetically unique and naturally immune to the deadly decease. Some descendants remain.


Cromford Mill, Cromford

Richard Arkwright and his partners established a mill in Cromford in 1771 and without delay set about perfecting the machinery and production methods for water - powered cotton spinning.

The first mill was modest in size, but in 1776 a second and very much larger mill was established using the same water supply. Soon after, the mill site expanded again and massive engineering work was undertaken, to create the system of ponds and underground culverts which maintained Arkwright's increasing need for water to drive his machinery. The mills at Cromford became models which were copied by Arkwright's partners and by his competitors. Mills sprang up in various parts of the UK and despite the legislation forbidding the export of technology,

in other countries such as Germany and America.

By 1790 all the principal buildings on the Cromford site had been completed and with the exception of the second mill and the "bow fronted" building, all have survived.

The Arkwright family sold most of its cotton spinning interests at an early date but retains the Cromford Mill and the nearby Masson Mill. After around 1840 the value of the Cromford Mills seriously diminished. A shortage of water, caused by the diversion of the main source for lead drainage, limited production, and during the second half of the 19th century, parts of the site were put to other uses. Some buildings housed a laundry, others a brewer, then during the 1920's most of the site was purchased by a company manufacturing colour pigment for paint, production of which continued until 1979.


Peak District Mining Museum and Temple Mine.

The Peak District Mining Museum is situated in The Pavilion at the centre of Matlock Bath alongside the A6, which runs alongside the river Derwent in a picturesque limestone gorge. The former dance floor has been completely renovated and converted to provide a setting for the relics of the Peak District's oldest industry, lead mining.



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2010 Study tour case notes Page 1 of 2

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