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British Industrial History

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Hawarden Iron Works

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of Hawarden, Flintshire.

This entry covers a succession of businesses carried on by successive owners, which may or may not have occupied the same premises. The first was probably John Rigby (Hawarden)

Members of the Rigby family were also connected with (established?) Sandycroft Foundry

1825 Advert: 'STEAM ENGINE ON SALE. STEAM ENGINE of 12 horses' power made by Messrs. Rigby & Co. of Hawarden, may be had on reasonable terms without a boiler, by applying to Messrs. Mather Parkes, & Co. Cornhill, Liverpool, and may be removed for immediate use from their Lead Works, Bagillt, near Holywell, where it may be seen.'[1]

1828 'William Rigby and Son of Hawarden, iron founders, merchants, and manufacturers of fire bricks, Hawarden Iron works.' Also listed: 'James Rigby, iron founder'[2]

1842 'Important Invention in Propelling Steam boats
— On Thursday last, a trial was made on the river, of Mr Edward Finch's patent propeller, which was eminently successful. A small steamer, called the Lapwing, of 4-5 tons burthen, and 18-horse power, has been constructed at the well known engineering establishment of Mr Rigby, at Hawarden, for the purpose of trying the merit Finch’s invention. We are informed, that, in coming round to Liverpool, although so small a vessel, she performed some part the trip at the rate of 12 miles per hour. The invention appears a very simple contrivance. The paddle-boxes are still preserved, but instead of paddle-wheels, two plates are applied, the broadest parts of which are at their extreme ends, fixed obliquely at an angle of 40 degrees, one on each side of the vessel, at the ends of the paddle-shaft. These plates, or propellers, are made of wrought iron, and appear very strong and compact, and about 11 feet long, and 3 feet 6 inches wide, in the broadest parts. They are entirely out of the water twice in the revolution of the paddle-shaft, when the engine is on her centres, and have the deepest hold of the water, when the engine is at half stroke, or at its greatest power. They thus act like oars, or skulls : no back-water is created, and the disagreeable beating of the paddleboards on the water, and consequent vibration of the vessel, is avoided. We recommend our mechanical friends to inspect her, when she again visits the port, and, from what we know of the owner, we are sure it will give them great pleasure to facilitate every inquiry respecting the vessel the invention. —Liverpool Chronicle.'[3]

1843 'New Draining Machine. — We lay before our readers the following extract from the Guiana Times of the 6th of March, 1843, (George Town, Demerara.) The machine referred to, as having been applied so successfully in that colony, is also applicable to the draining of lands generally, and was planned and executed at the engineering establishment of John Rigby, Esq, Hawarden, Flintshire, North Wales;— "Mr, Easton, one of our best practical engineers has completed a machine for draining Canegrove estate, on the Mahaica Creek. It is in operation, and answers the purpose admirably. There is a sluice which transmits the water be drained off. in any quantity determined on, into a brick channel, in which, as in a grove, moves a wheel, which, divided into bucket-like compartments raises the water, and throws it into an aqueduct that may be of any length and may run over the top of any obstacles. Exact computations, and actual experience, prove that the machine which may be worked, without difficulty, by the engine at the sugar-works, can drain any estate, however disadvantageously situated. We recommend the distressed planters on the east coast to inspect the Canegrove erection, and satisfy themselves."[4]

1846 'An inquest was held at Liverpool on Thursday, on the body of Ann Devaney, one of the sufferers by the recent bursting of the tank at the Harrington Water-works, when the jury, after receiving scientific and other evidence, returned a verdict of "Manslaughter" against Joseph Howell, manager of the Hawarden Iron-works, and a deodand of 100l. on the tank.'[5]

1846 'THURSDAY, March 26. CROWN COURT. The learned judge took his seat at a quarter-past nine. Mr. Blair intimated to his lordship, that as the grand jury, in the case of Mr. Howell, the manager of the Hawarden Iron Foundry, had ignored the bill, it was not the intention of counsel to offer any evidence on the coroner's inquisition. The jury, therefore, under direction, returned verdict of acquitted.'[6]

1846 'At the Liverpool assizes last week the Liverpool and Harrington Water Works Company recovered the sum of 2456l. from the Hawarden Iron Company for loss sustained by the bursting of the great iron tank manufactured for the water company by the Hawarden company.' [7]

1853 Advertisement: 'IRON WORKS, FLINTSHIRE. VERY IMPORTANT TO ENGINEERS, MACHINEMAKERS, MILLWRIGHTS, CONTRACTORS, MINERS, SMITHS, BROKERS, &c. MESSRS. CHURTON respectfully announce that they are honoured with instructions from the Hawarden Iron Works Company (whose Lease on the Hawarden Works will very shortly expire) to SELL by AUCTION, on Monday next the 14th, Tuesday the l5th, Wednesday the 16th, Thursday the 17th, Friday the 18th, Monday the 21st, and Tuesday the 22d days of February, punctually at eleven o'clock each morning, the whole of their VALUABLE STEAM-ENGINES, TOOLS, MACHINERY, PATTERNS, UTENSILS, and Effects; consisting of one condensing steam-engine, with 20-inch cylinder, working 4-feet stroke, with boiler, &c.; four upright boring machines, one small drilling machine, one large horizontal boring bar, 18 inches diameter, for boring steam cylinders up to 10-feet stroke; one horizontal boring bar, 11¾ inches diameter, for boring steam cylinders to 10-feet stroke; nine lathes, of various descriptions ; one glazier or polishing machine, one punching engine, one shearing engine, one large grindstone, one blowing cylinder, 22 inches diameter, working 4-feet stroke, with water regulator complete; the whole of the driving apparatus for the above machinery, smiths' tools, turning tools, vices, anvils, slack troughs, chains, two large foundry cranes, beams, slings, chains, iron stove-doors, patterns for mill gearing, land steam-engines, pipes, pump-trees, columns, cranes, bridges, weighing machine, &c. &c.; one high-pressure steam-engine, with 10-inch cylinder, working 2 feet 6 inches stroke, with boiler complete; two fans, 40 inches diameter by 12 inches wide, with driving pulleys; iron air-pipes, feet by 27 feet; iron cupolas, two large travelling cranes, 40 feet wide 32 feet high, and 40 feet by 27 feet, with two strong double-powered crab winches, iron blocks, with chain falls, &c.; one strong weighing machine; sundry parts of a six-horse portable high-pressure engine; sundry parts of an eight-horse portable condensing engine; sundry parts of 14-horse portable ditto ditto; sundry parts of a 28-horse power marine steam-engine; sundry parts of two 80 ditto ditto ditto; sundry parts of two 90 ditto ditto ditto; sundry parts of two 100 ditto ditto ditto; one sugar mill, with 26-inch rolls, 54 inches long; a quantity of blocks and falls, chains, three broad-wheel carts, one strong broad-wheel waggon ; two strong broad-wheel boiler carriages, horse gears, &c, and other valuable and miscellaneous effects; particulars of which are set forth descriptive catalogues, now ready for distribution.
TO ENGINEERS, SHIP-BUILDERS, AND STEAMPACKET COMPANIES. TO be SOLD, or LET, with immediate possession, the SANDYCROFT WORKS, on the banks of the Dee, complete working order, with every accommodation and requisite Machinery for building and completing Wood and Iron Vessels, and for manufacturing and fitting-out Screw and Paddle-wheel Machinery on board Steam Vessels all ready for sea. For particulars apply to Mr. Robert Roberts, 4, Upper Northgate-street, Chester. (One concern.)'[8]

1857 Advertisement: 'LEIGH & GILBERT HOWELL, Hawarden Iron Works, IRON and Brass Founders, Boiler Makers and Smith Work in general— Manufacturers of Steam Engines, and Machinery for Corn Mills, Thrashing Machines, Sugar Mills, Paper Mills, Clay Mills, and Crushing Mills for Gold, Silver, Tin, Lead, Copper and all other Ores. Also, Steam Pumping Engines, Pumps, Water Wheels, and Machinery of every description made to order.'[9]

1858 Advertisement: 'DANIEL RATCLIFFE, HAWARDEN IRON WORKS, HAWARDEN, BEGS most respectfully to acquaint the public that he is prepared to execute, on the shortest notice, and the most reasonable terms, any orders with which he may be favoured for the manufacture and repair of Steam Boilers, Tanks, &c., of every description. As he personally superintends all operations, be thus ventures to solicit the patronage of the public from whom every order will be thankfully received and promptly executed.'[10]

1869 'Large Boiler. — On Friday last, a large boiler, weighing upwards of sixteen tons, passed through the village from the works of Messrs Ratcliffe and Sons, Hawarden Iron Works, on its way to the Broughton Collieries, near Wrexham. We understand that this is one of three which will be required to supply the steam to the monster water engine, which the proprietors, the Messrs Darby, of Brymbo, are now erecting.'[11]

1907 Advertising as Ratcliffe & Sons, Hawarden Iron Works

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Chester Courant - Tuesday 29 November 1825
  2. Pigot and Co.'s National Commercial Directory for 1828-9
  3. Counties of Fife, Perth and Forfar - Tuesday 17 May 1842
  4. Liverpool Mail - Saturday 13 May 1843
  5. The Examiner, Saturday 10 January 1846
  6. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, Saturday 28th March 1846
  7. Westmorland Gazette, 5th September 1846
  8. Birmingham Gazette, 7th February 1853
  9. Chester Chronicle, 26th December 1857
  10. Wrexham Advertiser, 24th April 1858
  11. Wrexham Advertiser, Saturday 30th January 1869