Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 137,381 pages of information and 220,926 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
1843 Reference to bankruptcy proceedings: 'Benjamin Sayle, and Thomas Booth, Park Iron Works, Sheffield and Tinsley Park, Rotherham, Yorkshire, iron-masters, iron-founders, machine-makers, and coal-masters.....'
1844 'We have great pleasure to announce that the assignees of Messrs. Booth and Co. have sold the Park Iron Works to the Brymbo Mining and Railway Company, as a working concern. There is no doubt but this wealthy and spirited company will carry on the foundry and engineering departments with great vigour.' However.....
1846 Machinery and plant advertised for sale. Contents included: '....All the valuable MACHINERY, STEAM ENGINES, PLANING MACHINES, LATHES, CRANES, WEIGHING MACHINES, TOOLS, ANVILS. VICES, BELLOWS, and ether MISCELLANEOUS STOCK, …..THE PLANT OR FIXED STOCK COMPRISES A STRONG AND WELL-MADE DOUBLE POWER BOULTON AND WATT STEAM-ENGINE, With Fly Wheel, Blowing Cylinder, and Cast-Iron Regulator, The Steam Cylinder, 2X [illegible] inch diameter, 6 feet stroke. Blowing Cylinder, 56 inch diameter, with Three Wrought Iron Boilers, Waggon Shape, with a Cylindrical Tube in each, Fire Doors and Frames, Bearers, Grate Bars, Dampers and Frames, Steam and Feed Pipes; Blast Pipes, 11 inch diameter, loading from the Regulator to two Furnaces; Feeding Apparatus to two Furnaces, consisting of Shafts, Coupling Boxes, Carriages and Bevil Wheels from the Engine to the Machinery and the Shafts, Carriages, Wheels, Pinions, Inclines, Chains, and buckets; Cast Iron Plates, Bearers, and Wrought Iron Work to Five Cupolas, and Two Air or Reverberatory Furnaces; Stove Fittings end Pipes; a very excellent 10-Horse Boulton and Watt Engine, with Diagonal Frame, Waggon Boiler, and Boiler Fittings; a powerful Blowing Apparatus for working Cupolas and Smiths Fires; a strong and compact Iron Breast Water Wheel with shaft, Carriages, and Sluice, or Pentrough, 14 feet diameter, 4 feet wide. connecting Machinery to the Blowing Machines, and also to a Charcoal Coal Dust and Loam Milt Pipes, ….... PATTERNS in WOODS, IRON, and other METALS, in almost ?? for every Description of FOUNDRY ENGINEERING, RAILWAY, and ARCHITECTURAL WORK; also for GAS and ?; Iron and wood Models for Casting Pipes vertically, of every Size, .... WHEELS far RAILWAY WAGONS. Chairs. Water Cranes, .....Hard Rollers for Iron, &c.' The list also includes many machine tools. Points of interest are that the firm was producing iron in blast furnaces, that they were producing a wide range of products in iron, and that they had water power (hence the site's proximity to a weir).
By 1856 Park Iron Works was occupied by Davy Brothers
The book 'Water Power on the Sheffield Rivers' notes that Booth & Co of Brightside Forge took out a lease of Smith Wheel in 1782 in connection with establishing a blast furnace, and that by 1790 they were producing a range of wrought and cast iron goods. In 1792 they had a contract to supply iron pipes to Chelsea Water Works. A survey in 1810 includes a 15ft water wheel and a 30 HP steam engine and two boilers. There was also a smaller (8ft) wheel which may have been the remnant of Smith Wheel. It is noted that no wheel rent was paid in 1832. However, the 1846 entry suggests that water power was being used at that time.
The book includes an extract of a 1788 map. This shows a dam (mill pond) at the site of what became Park Iron Works (Smith Wheel's dam was further upstream: each dam was associated with a weir. It appears from later maps that Victoria Station was built on the site of the Smith Wheel dam).
'MANUFACTURERS AND WORKMEN The following very important case was tried at Liver pool Assizes yesterday week, and the decision will probably surprise many of our readers :— SAYLE AND OTHERS V. RUSSELL AND BROWN. Mr. Cresswell, with whom were Mr. Alexander and Mr. Hoggins, appeared on behalf of the plaintiffs; and Serjeant Atcherley, together with Messrs. Wright and Watson, on the defendants' behalf.
Mr. Cresswell, in stating the plaintiffs' case, said that the plaintiffs were extensive ironfounders, carrying or that business at the Park Iron Works, in the neighbourhood of Sheffield, under the firm of Booth and Company That for several years they had stood the highest in the London market for the excellency of their castings, both as dry and green sand casters, so far as related to pipes, bridges, and other large undertakings connected with the various public companies which had been formed to carry the extensive views which were now so common throughout the country into operation. The defendants were also iron founders, carrying on business at works called the Blaina Iron Works, in Monmouthshire ; and the present action was brought to recover damages for the injury the plaintiffs had sustained by the defendants enticing away four of their men, of the names of Charles Needham, Matthew Needham, Rufforth, and Howe. The Learned Counsel then entered into some details of the process of casting pursued by the plaintiffs, and contrasted them with the inferior plans pursued by the defendants, who, in order to obtain a better knowledge of conducting their business, had recourse to the unhandsome and unjustifiable conduct complained of. After giving a statement of the case, the particulars of which are contained in the evidence below, the following witnesses were called: —
George Collier proved that he was a foreman at the Park Iron Works, and had worked there several years. That Matthew Needham had worked there about eight years, Rusforth for eight years, Charles Needham for fifteen years, and Howe about five years. That Charles Needham, Howe, and Rusforth, were all at the head of sets of casters, and in August last were all very busily employed. That at that time, the witness was confined to his house by a burn. That on the 27th August, the defendant Russell, with a Mr. Smith, called upon witness at his house. That after asking witness how he did, the defendant said he wanted some good moulders. That he came from near London, and that it was Mr. Kelly, the plaintiffs' London agent, who had directed him to call on witness. That witness said that he could not believe that he (Kelly) would do so, as he might lose his situation, if Mr. Booth heard of it. That Russell said, "Well, and suppose he does lose his situation, don't you think I can give him as good a one ?" That the defendant then said he had seen some of the plaintiffs' castings in London, and that he was determined to have some of the men who had made them, if possible. That witness said it was a very wrong attempt. That the defendant said that he had tried several managers, and thrown away one £500 after another till he was quite tired. Witness told him he had better instruct some of his own workmen to manage; to which defendant said, "He had not a man about his place who was fit for such a situation." That the defendant then asked witness if he would change his situation; that if he would, he (defendant) would give him a better place and more wages, and not control him in the management. That witness said he would not change,. and he could not be more comfortable, as Mr. Booth had been very kind to him when ill. That the defendant then asked if there was not a person of the name of Needham, an overlooker. Witness said there was. Defendant then said he could perhaps prevail upon him to go. Witness said he thought not, as Mr. Booth had been very kind to him. That the defendant then named the names of several workmen, and asked if there was not a large family of the name of Needham, who worked for the plaintiffs, and said that he had heard of those Need- hams being good workmen ; and that he was determined to have the old gentleman and all his sons if it was possible, for that Booth and Co. stood first in the London market as to castings, and he was determined to get some of their men at some price. That witness refused to tell him where the Needhams lived.
Cross-examined by Serjeant Atcherley. — The conversation lasted above an hour. The defendant first mentioned the Needhams. The name of Simmons was not mentioned. Witness did not say that he had a brother-in-law of the name of Charles Needham who was going- to leave or was dissatisfied. That the custom is to give and take a month's notice, unless otherwise hired. That Howe, Rashforth, and Matthew Needham gave a month's notice the week but one after witness saw Russell. That witness heard that Charles Needham went with Russell to Wales on the Tuesday after witness saw Russell.
Mr. Kelly, of London, agent to the plaintiffs, proved that he never directed Russell to call on Collier, and never mentioned Collier's name to him, as witness did not know that the plaintiffs had a workman of that name.
Mr. George Brown, clerk to the plaintiffs, proved the absence of the four men, and that prior to the defendant, Russell, coming to them, they had never expressed any intention of quitting the plaintiffs' service.
Thomas Needham, of the Park Iron Works, moulder, stated that on Tuesday, the 30th of August last, he met the defendant, Russell, at the Tontine, who had sent for him; that when he got there, witness did not go to the Tontine, in consequence of Mr. Sayle, one of the plaintiffs, standing in the gateway, when the defendant told them to go to the Albion, and they did so, and there the defendant gave witness and Charles Needham some brandy and water. That the defendant there promised that Charles Needham should go over to the Blaina Works that night and look at the works, and that he should have what wages be might ask; and it was then arranged that a false statement should he given of the cause of Charles Needham's absence. That in the evening, Charles went away with the defendant, and staid away till the Sunday following, and on the Thursday they all gave notice. That defendant held out the inducement of high wages to witness, and offered him a horse to ride, if he would go, but witness refused. Evidence was then given by Mr. Anderson and Mr. Bramah, celebrated engineers in London, of the high character which the plaintiffs' castings had, and the loss which the, plaintiffs would sustain by the men being taken away.
Mr. Serjeant Atcherley then addressed the Jury, but called no witnesses.
Mr. Justice Pattison stated that inasmuch as three of the men had given a month's notice, he considered that in point of law an action would not lie for enticing them to give such notice, however unhandsome and improper a thing it might be to do so, and there was no doubt it was so; he was therefore of opinion that as to three of the men, it was not the subject of an action at law. Then as to the fourth, Charles Needham, the case was different, for he left in August, and was absent without notice ; and although he afterwards gave notice, he did not leave at the end of it. The learned Judge was proceeding to state the facts, when an offer being made on the part of the defendants to withdraw a juror, it was agreed to be accepted by the plaintiffs.'