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British Industrial History

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Samuel Walker and Co

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of Walker Iron Works of Masbrough

of Marbro', Sheffield

1740s Samuel Walker, the village schoolmaster at Grenoside near Sheffield, (with Aaron Walker) erected a small foundry attached to the farm in which he lived, which turned out annually about 5 tons of castings.

1746 They relocated the business to Masbrough along with their brother-in-law, John Crawshaw. This was the foundation of what became one of the largest iron foundries in the country, which supplied most of the iron cannon used by the Government up to 1815, as well as the material for several iron bridges.

1753-6 The Masbrough site was expanded by the purchase of adjacent property at the Yellands

1754 On 29 September, Thomas Howard leased land at Masbrough to the Walker Brothers (Samuel and Aaron Walker of Masbrough, Jonathan Walker and John Crawshaw of Grenoside) for 21 years, where the Walkers built a water-powered forge.

1757–9 Leased the Holmes estate.

By 1757 trade had grown and the works expanded on land about a mile away. A large foundry was erected at the Holmes, in which they made almost all kinds of castings, including large quantities of cannon. Other mills were at Thrybergh and Conisbrough.

1766 Built a crucible steel furnace, at Yellands. The business was boosted by government orders for cannon, obtained through the patronage of the local landowner, Charles Watson-Wentworth, when he was prime minister.

1770-1 the Walkers built a tilt mill next to their mill

1780 The mill was bought by the South Yorkshire Navigation Co and leased to the Walkers who used it to power their iron rolling mill

By 1781, three-fifths of metal cast at the Walkers' works were supplied to the government.

1787 Directory: Founder [1]

1789 Crawshaw was bought out of the business

1792 On the death of Samuel Walker (1742-1792), his brother Joshua Walker (1750–1815), took on the leadership of the company which became known as Joshua Walker and Co[2].

1794 One of several large iron bridges that were cast at Rotherham was Staines Bridge (started in 1794)[3]

About 80 of the 105 guns aboard HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar were cast by the Walker Company.

c.1813 it turned out annually some 3,000 tons weight of guns.

1813 Southwark Bridge in London was started; it was to be built with castings from these foundries[4].

1815 Cannon manufacture at Rotherham ended with the finish of the Peninsular War; the Walkers concentrated on other activities, especially banking. The firm also built a bridge at Sunderland. But, for some reason, after that date the business declined. Competition from Sheffield increased and their ore supplies were depleted. The firm also suffered through the failure of the Southwark Bridge Co, for which they had supplied the iron.

1821 the firm ceased operations and the capital, valued in 1797 at £214,000, was distributed.

1821 The Conisbrough foundry closed.

1822 Transfer of the ironworks to Gospel Oak in Staffordshire, producing cannon.

Other members of the firm carried on the the blast furnaces, another took over the rolling-mills, a third set up a steel plant at Parkgate, whilst the general foundry work was relegated to a fourth.

1834 Dissolution of the Partnership between Samuel Walker and William Yates, at Anchor Wharf, Upper Thames-Street, London, and at the Gospel Oak Iron Works, in the County of Stafford, as Ironmasters, and carried on under the firms of Walker and Yates, and Samuel Walker and Co.[5]

1927 See Aberconway for information on the company and its history

Was this company connected with Walker, Booth and Crawshaw?

See Also


Sources of Information

  • History of Walker's foundries [2]
  • Samuel Walker MP (1779-1851) [3]
  • Walker Family, ODNB [4]
  • Walker biography [5]
  1. Directory of Sheffield, 1787
  2. Walker biography [1]
  4. White's 1833
  5. London Gazette 5 Aug 1834