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British Industrial History

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Allum Street Foundry

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Sometimes known as Alum Street Foundry

Allum Street, Ancoats, Manchester

1836 Notice of sale of equipment of Allum Street Foundry, resulting from Mr J. P. Firmstone retiring from the business. Contents included: 30 ft slide lathe, capable of boring a cylinder 3 ft in diameter or facing a wheel 12 ft diameter; boring rod 16 ft long 9 3/8" diameter, with 14 boring heads; self-acting planing machine 8 ft 6" long, 1 ft 6" broad; nine lathes from 9" to 18" centre height; large crab crane, blocks, chain and framing, for loading steam boilers; various foundry patterns including those for spur and bevil wheels, most of which formerly belonged to the late firm of Parkinson & Arrivé; great variety of patterns for steam engines, hydraulic presses, firing machines, printing and weighing machines, bone mills and gas works, patterns for lathes, screwing machines, planing machines [1]

Note 1: J. P. Firmstone was John Parsons Firmstone, listed in Pigot's 1834 directory as an iron and brass founder, engineer & machinist, and machine maker, of Allum St. His address in the 1836 Electoral Register was Every Street, Ancoats. Was he the same John Parsons Firmstone who is recorded as an Ironmaster, of Highfields Works, Bilston? Also John Firmstone?

Note 2: This is probably the same foundry as that occupied at a later date by William Crossley. See 1851 Sale Notice below.

1835 Newspaper report:'Dreadful Accident — two Persons Crushed to Death.—A dreadful accident occurred at Apedale, near Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire, on Good Friday, whereby two young men well known in this town lost their lives. It appears that Mr. Firmston [Firmstone?], engineer, of Alum-street, Ancoats, is engaged in erecting a high-pressure engine, of 60 horse power, upon the iron-works of his brother, at Apedale. Two young men, workmen of Mr. Firmston's, named James Hodson Sharrock and John Heywood, the subjects of this melancholy narrative, had gone from this town, along with others, to assist in putting up the engine, and were, on the above afternoon, in the blast cylinder, engaged in putting the cotter which connects the piston with the rod, when the accident took place. It may be necessary to inform our readers, that for the purpose just stated the piston is elevated and supported on props, and the workmen enter the cylinder from the bottom, and are thus placed below the piston. So it was in this case; and while the two men were engaged as above described, the beam to which the piston and rod is attached snapped asunder, the props gave way, and the piston and rod, weighing together about 2½ tons, fell upon the unfortunate men, through a descent of 4½ feet. The workmen and others outside instantly ran to the sufferers, but they were both dead. Sharrock was lying with one of the props across the stomach, and had evidently died of suffocation. Heywood was lying with his head outside the cylinder, and his face was much disfigured. Neither of the bodies was so much crushed as might have been expected, owing to the position in which the props had fallen. It was about four hours before the bodies could be extricated, owing, in some measure, to the want of mechanical skill of those present, and to the immense weight which they had to deal with. Once they raised the piston about 2 feet, but the rope broke, and it descended again on the bodies. Only few minutes before the accident there was a third person in the cylinder, but he had been sent out by Sharrock to see that all was safe; he had scarcely got out when the accident took place. He heard Sharrock exclaim, "Oh, Jack," and that was the only exclamation uttered by either of the sufferers. An inquest was held on the remains of the poor men on Tuesday, and verdict of "Accidental death" was returned. The bodies were afterwards removed to this town, and on Thursday last they were interred in the Rev. J. Schofield's burial-ground, Every-street, Ancoats. The funeral was a very solemn and imposing spectacle. Several hundred fellow-workmen and friends of the deceased followed in the train of mourners, and vast crowd assembled to witness the interment. An impressive address was delivered by Mr. J. Schofield. Both sufferers were about 26 years of age, and were much respected. Sharrock was for some time one of the missionaries of the Regeneration Society, and was the individual who read and presented to Mr. Cobbett, on behalf of the working men in .Manchester, an address, at the Public meeting in Stevenson-square, Lever-street, on the Saturday preceding the late election for Manchester.— Manchester Advertiser.[2]

1851 Sale Notice (Allum Street Foundry): By order of William Crossley. Sale of equipment included: Two new 6 HP horizontal high pressure steam engines, 9" bore, 18" stroke; travelling crab crane, 31 ft span with the timber supports and railway; various machine tools including a lathe with a 27 ft long bed; horizontal boring mill with bed 18 ft long, will take 3 ft dia [3]

Location

The 1849 36-inch O.S. map shows the foundry bounded by the Rochdale Canal, Allum Street, Cotton Street and Albion Buildings. The area of land measured about 125 ft by 140 ft, although several of buildings fronting onto Allum Street may have been unconnected with the business. [4]

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Manchester Times - Saturday 16th April 1836
  2. Reading Mercury, 4th May 1835
  3. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser - Saturday 22nd November 1851
  4. 'The Godfrey Edition Old Ordnance Survey Maps: Manchester (Piccadilly) 1849: Manchester Sheet 29'