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British Industrial History

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Great Western Iron Co

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of Seend, near Melksham, Wiltshire.

See also Seend Ironworks

Established c.1857 by Sarl & Co to convert the rich iron ore deposits in the region of Seend to iron. Sarl and Co had been selling ore from the site at a profit of £5000 - £6000 p.a. A limited company had been formed to smelt the iron on site, and Sarl & Co were required to carry out certain works to this end, including constructing a rail link to the Wilts, Somerset and Weymouth line, and placing a contract for digging and winning the ore (contract placed with Rowland Brotherhood). However, liquidators were appointed in 1859, after two furnaces had been built, but with the plant incomplete.[1]

1858 '..... The supply of ore at Seend is immense, and, from small samples smelted in Mr. Brotherhood's factory at Chippenham, furnishes a remarkably pure metal, and we hear that on a larger scale the quality of the pig-iron very satisfactory.'[2]

1859 Court case: Sarl & Co, as lessees of the land, against the Great Western Iron Co (Limited ) and others, the others being William Cooke, Ferris, S. H. Smith, Bennett, Robert Cooke, Spencer Seagram, J. N. Gladstone, and J. T. Smith. These men had agreed to fund and construct the smelting works, while Sarl & Co were to construct the railway. The railway was completed and accepted by the engineer of the GWR. However, the smelting wors were not completed by the required date, and an agreement was signed to extend the date to 18 March 1859, but the work was still not complete by the time of the court case in June. Sarl & Co were seeking 'enormous' damages, [3]

1859 A court case concerning a promissory note identifies a group who had agreed to form the limited Great Western Iron Ore and Smelting Company: John Seagram, Josiah Harris, George Parker, John Combes and James Humby (Humby, as Manager of the North Wilts Bank, had wished his name to be concealed). Coal was to be obtained from Ruabon. Josiah Harris said that he was the manager of the South Devon Iron Works, and that Mr Sarl of London 'had a contract for the land at Seend', and that 'I had to do with the works at Ruabon.' [4]

1859 John Combes (of Combes and Bracher) announces that he is no longer officially connected with the Great Western Iron Co[5]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette - Thursday 28 July 1859
  2. Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Saturday 17 April 1858
  3. Wiltshire Independent, 30 June 1859
  4. Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette - Thursday 28 July 1859
  5. Wiltshire Independent, 2 June 1859