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British Industrial History

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T. Oakes

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of Staffordshire

Furnace Builder

1832 Oakes built an improved blast furnace, as described below by Thomas Turner:-

'Improved Shape of Blast Furnace
The following details of the period in question were supplied to the author by Mr. T. Oakes, of Dudley, who, in the early part of the century, was a member of the largest firm of furnace builders in the country, and who died in 1891 at an advanced age.

'In 1832, T. Oakes erected a furnace for J. Gibbons at Corbyn's Hall, and fortunately both of these gentlemen had large experience with blast furnaces. They had noticed that in the old form of furnace, with small square heaths, as shown ..... the furnace took some months to arrive at its maximum production ; and that by this time the sides had been much melted away, that the hearth had become round, its diameter had much increased, and the boshes had worn away so as to be much steeper than they were built originally. Gibbon's idea in building his furnace was to give to the newly constructed stack as nearly as possible that internal shape which furnaces that were known to have worked well had formed for themselyes in actual practice. The hearth was, therefore, made circular and of increased diameter (4 feet 3 inches), while the boshes were made steeper, and the upper parts of the furnace lining were scooped out to give greater capacity. The capacity of the furnace was increased from about 2,700 to 4,850 cubic feet, and as the height was increased from 45 to 60 feet and the throat was widened, the increased capacity was chiefly in the upper part of the furnace. The result was that the fuel consumption was reduced, the furnace came to its maximum production much earlier, it worked more regularly, and required fewer repairs; at the same time the production of pig iron increased to the hitherto unapproached weekly output of 115 tons.

'In 1838, T. Oakes started the Ketly [Ketley?] Iron Works, in which he carried these improvements still further. Three furnaces were erected 60 feet high, with 16 feet bosh, and a circular hearth 8 feet in diameter. The blast pressure was increased to 4 pounds to the square inch, and it was introduced by means of six twyers. The yield of pig iron was by these changes enormously increased, reaching 236 tons of cold blast pig iron per week, a quantity which, with cold blast, has seldom been exceeded. By the general adoption of the improved furnace lines now introduced, and by the use of hotter blast, the production increased until in 1854 a weekly yield of 300 tons, or upwards, was not uncommon, and the average throughout the whole of the United Kingdom had risen to 106 tons. .......The changes which led to this marked increase in production were thus the use of hot blast, and greater blast pressure, with more twyers; the introduction of circular hearths of increased diameter, and steeper boshes ; and the increased height, and the greater capacity of the furnace, particularly in the upper portion. These changes foreshadowed others, on similar lines, introduced later in Cleveland and America.' [1]

Timothy Oakes?

From 'Family Tree Maker'[2]:-

'Timothy Oakes (son of Edward Oakes and Martha) died date unknown. He married Sylvia Cooksey on 29 Apr 1830 in Dudley, daughter of Thomas Cooksey and Mary Hadley.
More About Timothy Oakes:
Baptism: 04 Sep 1803, Dudley St. Thomas.446
Occupation: Furnace builder/ Maltster.

More About Timothy Oakes and Sylvia Cooksey:
Marriage: 29 Apr 1830, Dudley.'

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] 'The Metallurgy of Iron and Steel' by Thomas Turner, Charles Griffin & Co., 1895
  2. [2] Family Tree Maker - Timothy Oakes webpage