Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

John M. Stanley and Co

From Graces Guide

John M Stanley & Co, Midland Works, Savile Street East, Sheffield


1859 Dissolution of the partnership of Stanley, Bellamy and Co at the Midland Works, presumably continued by John Martin Stanley.

1862 Exhibited Ornamental octagon conservatory at the London Exhibition

1862 Jabez Stanley, iron founder, also worked in this business[1]

1864 Reference to the failure of J. M. Stanley & Co., of the Midland Works, with liabilities at £40,000. [2]

1864 'W. S BENNETT and CO., STOVE GRATE and KITCHEN RANGE show rooms, 82, Market-place. Late J. M. STANLEY and CO., Beg most respectfully to call the attention of their Friends and the Public to their NEW and EXTENSIVE ASSORTMENT of COOKING APPARATUS and OVENS and BOILERS, .....'[3]

1865 'At a meeting of the creditors of Messrs. J. M. Stanley and Co., Midland Works, Sheffield, on Wednesday, it was shown that the estate, as a going concern, had a margin of £8000 over and above the liabilities. A resolution was carried almost unanimously in favour of forming a limited liability company, with a capital of £30,000, to carry on the concern, the creditors to take the amounts of their respective debts in shares, and the company to pay 10s. in the pound to those creditors who may refuse to take shares.' [4]

1865 Partnership dissolved. '...the Partnership lately subsisting between us the undersigned, John Martin Stanley and Jabez Stanley, lately carrying on business at The Midland Works, Sheffield, in the county of York, as Iron Founders, under the style of John M. Stanley and Company, was determined and dissolved...'[5]

1866 'THIS DAY. MIDLAND IRON WORKS. RE J. M. STANLEY. TO IRONFOUNDERS, MACHINISTS, METAL BROKERS, AND OTHERS. Mr. NICHOLSON has received instructions from the Assignees of James Martin Stanley, Ironfounder, to SELL by AUCTION, on the Premises, the Midland Iron Foundry, Saville street East, Sheffield, on Wednesday. Thursday, and Friday, May 16th, 17th, and 18th, commencing at Eleven o'clock each day, the whole of the Valuable Loose PLANT, consisting of upwards of 100 TONS OF BOXES. 60 TONS METAL SCRAP. 40 TONS ROLL CHILLS. WROUGHT IRON RAILWAY TRUCK. DRAY for HEAVY CASTINGS, 12-in. Wheels. Large Quantity of VALUABLE MODELS, three capital Carts, Dray, four Crane Ladles, Hand and Shank Ladles, Moulders', Fitters', Smiths', and Model Makers' Tools; six Pair capital Circular Bellows, five Anvils, eight Tons of Bar Iron. Drop Crab and three Legs, large quantity of various Castings, the Contents of three Store-rooms, valuable Fittings for the three Offices, and a large variety of Miscellaneous Effects.'[6]

An invention, which seems likely to prove of great importance in the Sheffield trade, has just been patented by a townsman — Mr. J. M. Stanley, who names his discovery "The Stanley Patent Furnace."
The primary advantage which the inventor claims for his furnace over those now in use is that a great economy can be effected in fuel, as it is so constructed as to burn coal instead of coke ; and coal, too, of the very cheapest kind.
Its inventor claims that it does its work quite as well as the old smelting furnaces, and when it is taken into consideration that the coal it consumes costs 4s. 2d. per ton, whilst the coke formerly consumed in furnaces costs 21s. per ton, it will at once be seen what an immense saving is effected. In addition to this, it smelts the iron in considerably less time than was required for the process under the old system, has the advantage that whole "pigs" can be thrown into the cupola without first requiring to be broken, as is the case under the present system, and that it consumes its own smoke efficiently.
The inventor bases his theory, now brought into very successful practice, upon the principle that there is more heat and less ashes in coal than coke, weight for weight. His furnace possesses the conditions for evolving all the heat that the raw fuel is capable of giving out, and utilising the same before it can escape from the furnace.
The principle of the furnace is a combination of the cupola and reverbatory systems. The heat is generated in a separate fireplace or chamber formed of brickwork ; this fireplace has lateral openings or "tuyers " for the admission of a blast supplied from a common fan and conveyed through flues formed in the brickwork under and along the side of the furnace. The effect is that the bricks are cooled and the air heated at tho same time. The fuel is supplied through two "hoppers," placed over the fire in the roof. These "hoppers" have each a slide for regulating the supply of fuel. A blast of air is passed immediately under the slide, which keeps it cool and supplies the gases with oxygen for combustion, keeping down the flame whilst it is being charged with fuel. At the opposite end of the furnace is a stack similar to a common cupola, and the iron for melting is charged in this stack, in large or small pieces, unmixed with fuel. The heat generated in the fireplace is forced by the blast through the iron in the stack, and spends itself in its passage through. Between the fire places and the stack a well, or receptacle, is provided for the iron to run into as it melts, and is tapped out when required, as in an ordinary cupola.
The inventor claims that his furnace can smelt iron at a cost per ton for fuel of 8d., whilst under the present system the cost is 4s. per ton. Mr. Wm. Charles, of the Millsands, has had erected upon his premises one of the patent furnaces, and yesterday this was tested. Under the present system both the iron and the fuel have to be placed in the furnace at once, in alternate layers, but the new furnace is fed with fuel from a totally distinct source, whilst the iron is thrown in at the cupola as usual. The furnace having been duly " charged" with iron and fuel, the fire was left to do its work, and in sixteen minutes the "heat" was ready. This is a clear gain of eight or ten minutes on the time occupied under the present system, and upon the well being tapped the workmen found the "heat" a very good one, and several chill rolls, box, and open sand castings were executed.
The experiments were conducted in the presence of Mr. Charles and several other local gentlemen, who expressed themselves highly pleased and gratified by the result arrived at. The furnace has fulfilled all that its inventor claims for it, and it is highly probable that it will very soon come into general use in the Sheffield trade.'[7]

1881 Exhibition of Smoke-Abating Appliances at South Kensington: '.....Messrs. W. Green and Company, Sheffield (who are manufacturing a down draught, hopper fed, closed furnace appliance, invented and patented by Mr. J. M. Stanley, late of this town.'[8]


The 1903 O.S. map[9] shows the Midland Works (Steel & Iron) at the N.E. end of Savile Street East, where the road passed under the Midland Railway viaduct. The works was bounded on the south west by the Brightside Boiler & Engine Works, beyond which was the large Norfolk works of Thomas Firth and Sons. Immediately north west was a series of railway lines, beyond which was the large Atlas Steelworks of John Brown and Co. The Midland Works was quite small, occupying an area of about 250 ft by 200 ft.

Casting Three Large Anvil Blocks

1863 'Enormous CASTING at the MIDLAND WORKS.
A number of ladies and gentlemen assembled on Thursday in the large casting-room of Messrs. J. M. Stanley and Co., Midland Works, Sheffield, to witness the interesting process of making an enormous casting. The casting, though not the largest in point of outline, is in bulk the largest, and is, by many tons, the heaviest that has been produced in this country, being eight feet square at the base, seven feet six inches deep, and two feet by six feet at the top, and being composed of upwards of fifty tons of metal. The bed or mould of the casting had been excavated in the centre of the capacious room, at the sides and end of which are two large air and two almost equally large cupola furnaces,
In these four furnaces the metal for the casting was prepared. The melting operations were commenced at 3.30 a.m., and a little before 2 p.m. the prescribed quantity of metal had been reduced to that degree of liquidity and purity necessary to the successful completion of the process. The "flood-gates" of the capacious furnaces were then opened, and the fiery streams, ran glowing and hissing, and throwing up occasional sparks, along concentric channels to the mould that had been provided for the metal. The process went gradually but rapidly on until the vast pit — for such it was — was full to overflowing of the seething and boiling liquid. In due time the mouth of the mould was closed, and the metal left to return slowlv to its normal state of solidity, nothing whatever having occurred to interrupt or mar the process, which was as complete a success as Messrs. Stanley could possibly desire.
The casting, which forms one solid iron mass, is to be an anvil block in the new gun manufactory in course of erection by Messrs. Thomas Firth and Sons, near Brightside lane, and will weigh 53 tons.
Messrs. Stanley have orders for several other enormous castings for the same firm, one of them, also an anvil block, to be not less than 100 tons in weight, or nearly twice the size of the unprecedentedly large block so successfully cast on Thursday. The necessity for these enormous castings will be apparent, even to non-manufacturers, when it is stated that the one cast on Thursday is to form the support of an anvil on which massive guns will be welded by a seven ton Nasmyth steam hammer, and that the still larger one ordered, will have to resist the terrible strokes of a twelve ton Nasmyth hammer, hurled down by the utmost power of steam. The making of large castings is one of the new branches of trade in which Sheffield has so rapidly risen to eminence, and in which the success of Messrs. Stanley has been as marked as that of the Mayor (Mr. Brown) in the manufacture of armour plates, and of Messrs. Firth and Messrs. Cammell and Co. in kindred processes.' [10]

1864 'ENORMOUS CASTING IN SHEFFIELD. (From the Sheffield Telegraph.)
We have on several previous occasions recorded the successes of Messrs. J. M. Stanley and Co., of the Midland Works, in the casting of vast blocks of metal intended for steam hammer anvils. On each occasion we have observed a great step in advance the 50 or 60-ton anvil, then considered to be a marvel, was followed by the 100 ton-block, which dwarfed all its predecessors, and took its place as the largest anvil in the world. But that has again given way to more colossal successor; and we have now to record the casting of a 160-ton block, which was successfully accomplished on Friday.
The casting shop in which the monster was brought into shape and form was that in which the previous castings had been made. In the centre of the floor a great pit was dug, and in this the mould was formed, the anvil being cast with its face downwards. The mould was 12 feet square at the base, and 11 feet 6 inches deep, and it was estimated that nearly 170 tons of iron would be required to fill it.
At intervals outside the shop were five furnaces, and at six o'clock Friday morning these commenced to pour their molten contents into the huge chasm, and continued until about five o'clock, when the operation was declared to be successfully completed. The scene in the casting shop was most animated. From four or five different points streams of liquid fire were slowly rolling to the edge of the pit, where they fell amidst showers of starry sparks into the vast mass beneath. The molten metal shone with incredible lustre, and the spectators marvelled that the workmen could retain their places in the midst of such overpowering heat. The men seemed, however, to be perfectly indifferent to everything but the success their work; and they charged and emptied the furnaces with admirable regularity until the last ton was run in. A metal rod was thrust through the mass to test its perfect liquidity, and, this having been satisfactorily proved, the top of the pit was carefully closed, to be opened no more until the metal has cooled, which will probably be in about seven weeks.
The next consideration was, "How will it ever be raised from its bed !" The question is one that has engaged the anxious attention of Mr. Stanley, and we believe that the operation of lifting the monstrous block transferring it to its destination will be safely and speedily effected.
The anvil is intended to be placed in the gun manufactory of Messrs. Firth, which is close to the Midland Works, on the Sheffield side of the second railway bridge.
The predecessors of this anvil are fixed in an immense and admirably arranged forge, where seven huge Nasmyth hammers are continually employed in the forging of guns and the great shafts and cranks of marine engines. The "160 ton" will be placed in a forge that is now building at the corner of the works nearest the railway. The distinguished stranger will be amply provided for, as one of his weight and substance should be. His “bed” is being prepared by a body of labourers who have been engaged on that duty for months, and as a first step they have formed a first course of great piles, which have been driven by steam power fifteen feet into the solid ground. Upon these will be placed a thick bulk of oak, solidly braced and bolted together, and the combined mass will form the bed of the anvil. Only about half a foot of its bulk will appear above ground. The object of having such an enormous casting is, as we have before explained, to secure an anvil that no force can shake. The block will have to sustain the blows a 25-ton steam hammer (Nasmyth), which will be employed in forging the 600-pounder and 300-pounder guns that Messrs. Firth are making for Mr. Whitworth.
In all probability these enormous weapons will form the armament of our fleet and fortifications, and in Messrs. Firth's large and well-ordered forge they may be seen in all stages of manufacture. In this forge were made those wonderful guns that are now being tried at Shoeburyness, and which have stood the unprecedented test of nearly 3,000 rounds, without giving the slightest sign of failure. We saw on Friday another gun under the hammer, and heard that it was to be "proved to destruction", if that result could be attained by any charge of powder that could be got into the chamber - of which our conductor had grave doubts. In the adjoining shop the guns, and some great crank shafts, were being bored and turned. The shot and shell factory is in the immediate neighbourhood ; and there the famous steel shot and other projectiles are being manufactured for various foreign governments - America, France, Russia, and Spain. Recent experiments have shown that steel shot will penetrate any iron plates that have yet been made, but the British fleet is only supplied with the old cast-iron projectiles. This error must soon be remedied.' [11]

About four months since we were invited to see the casting of an enormous anvil block at the Works, Saville-street East. This huge piece of metal was some time ago removed from the mould in which it was cast, and is now about to be placed in its bed in the extensive and still extending premises of Messrs. T. Firth and Sons. It is with pleasure that we have again pleasure to record being invited to see the casting of another anvil block for the same firm. The block is 156 tons 16 cwt. 3 qrs. 5 lbs. in weight, and is in shape like a huge pyramid.
The mould is situated in one of the large sheds in the extensive premises of Messrs. Stanley and Co., and is an immense cavern scooped out in the centre, of great depth, into which the metal is run. The molten metal is supplied from five furnaces placed at relative distances round the shed. Two these furnaces are cupolas, and three are air furnaces. From these, iron channels for conveying the liquid metal are constructed, and filled with charcoal. The furnaces are fed from without with bars of pig-iron, and contain each from three to five tons of metal. The first tapping of the furnaces commenced yesterday morning at six o'clock, and by one o'clock considerably more than half the metal had been run into the mould. The molten mass in the mould presented the appearance of a lake of fire, and the furnaces each in turn sent its quota to the mould in beautiful streams of liquid fire hissing along the channels. To prevent the premature hardening of the mass of metal large quantities charcoal were thrown upon the surface, and as this was done lurid sheets of flame were sent up to a great height, almost scorching those who were standing near. each of the furnaces was emptied, the boiling mass in the mould rose necessarily slowly on account of the immense surface ; and it increased the heat became more and more intense. As the metal was running, the channels were carefully tended by a number of the workmen .whose soot-begrimed countenances gave them a rather formidable appearance. Occasionally, during the running of the metal, from damp or some other cause, it would spurt up with a crackling noise like a discharge of rockets, creating a little commotion and anxiety among the bystanders. As the success of a work of this nature depends almost entirely upon the metal being properly run together—free from blows—it is pleasing to state that the undertaking was satisfactorily completed yesterday afternoon.
This block, like the last one, is intended for the anvil to a 35 ton double-acting Nasmyth steam hammer in the gun-factory of Messrs. T. Firth and Sons. The hammer and anvil will be employed in forging 15 ton steel ingots for 600 pounder guns, also large shafts and double and single crank axles. The dimensions of the anvil block are 12 square feet at the base, and 11 feet 6 inches deep.
The mass will take nearly two months to cool, after which it will be removed, probably to make way for another of the same dimensions.
In connection with this work, Messrs. Stanley tested one of the rotatory engines which they have lately patented. This engine, which was lately described in these columns, was used yesterday in driving the fans for the furnaces. This work has hitherto been performed by a ten or twelve horse-power engine requiring an immense quantity of fuel. The work was performed yesterday by one of those miniature machines, which only required one-half the fuel, and no waste of power, the steam is communicated at once to the crank. This invention of Messrs. Stanley's is in all respects a success.'[12]

1864 'Enormous Sheffield Casting.
It may be in the recollection of our readers that in July last we reported a successful attempt made by Messrs. J. M. Stanley and Co., the Midland Works, to cast an anvil block weighing 160 tons. The enormous mass of iron took six weeks to cool, and it was then, by means of hydraulic power, lifted from the mould.
On Friday, the same firm were engaged in casting a second anvil of precisely the same size and weight The mould, which was twelve feet square at the base and eleven feet six inches deep, was dug out in the centre of the workshop, and from five furnaces constructed at intervals round the building, the molten iron was run. The first furnace was " tapped" at six o'clock in the morning, and in about twelve hours the mould was filled.
The opportunity was embraced by Messrs. Stanley for testing their newly-patented rotary engine. An ordinary engine of 12-horse power was used to drive a portion the blow fans It was worked at pressure of 80lb., and the fans made 1,400 revolutions per minute. The new engine, which is of 10-horse power, drove fans of the same dimensions, was worked at the pressure of 50lb., and the fans made 1,600 revolutions per minute The new engine worked much easier than the one on the old principle, and consumed about half the quantity of fuel. The expectations of the patentees in regard to the power, compactness, and economy of the engine have been fully realised.
The enormous castings referred to are intended for the gun manufactory of Messrs. Firth and Sons. For months past men have been engaged preparing for them "beds" of extraordinary solidity; the necessity for which will be apparent when we state that each anvil has to receive the blows of a 25 ton Nasmyth hammer. Extensive alterations are going on in the steel melting department at the works of Messrs. Firth. The building intervening between the steel melting furnaces has been removed, and other furnaces in its room erected. When completed, there will be, in a space of 160 feet, long by 60 feet wide, 170 melting pots, and an ingot of steel of from 12 to 14 tons weight will turned out at one casting. In the centre of this department will be a powerful steam crane. This firm will be celebrated for possessing the largest anvils in the world, and the most extensive and complete set of steel melting pots.—Sheffield Independent.' [13]

1872 Letter: '"MONSTER CASTING." To the Editor. — I see in to-day's Independent a notice of a "Monster Casting" at the Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, the weight of which is stated to be 103 tons. The hammer for the above block, it is said, will be the largest in the kingdom. Two blocks were cast at the Midland Works, Sheffield, for Messrs. Firth, a few years since, weighing nearly 170 tons each. — Yours truly, JABEZ STANLEY, Brightside, Sept. 23rd, 1872.[14]

COMMENT: Although the anvil blocks were massive for the time, subsequent years would see enormous increases in the size of anvils. In 1865 an anvil of 210 tons was cast by J. Ireland for the Bolton Iron and Steel Co. In 1873 an 500-ton anvil was cast at Perm, in Russia. However, those larger examples were cast very close to their final location, and 'merely' inverted and moved a short distance to their bed. Stanley & Co's anvils were cast in their own foundry and somehow transported to the nearby steelworks.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Sheffield Directory
  2. Newcastle Courant, 23rd December 1864
  3. Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 28th October 1864
  4. Dundee Advertiser, Saturday 7th January 1865
  5. The London Gazette Publication date:2 May 1865 Issue:22964 Page:2336
  6. Sheffield Independent, Wednesday 16th May 1866
  7. Sheffield Independent, 22nd October 1869
  8. Sheffield Independent, 29th November 1881
  9. The Godfrey Edition map: Yorkshire Sheet 294.04: Sheffield (North) 1903 [1]
  10. Sheffield Independent, Saturday 21st February 1863
  11. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, Friday 22nd July 1864
  12. Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Saturday 22nd October 1864
  13. Maidstone Telegraph, Saturday 29 October 1864
  14. Sheffield Independent, 24th September 1872