Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Charles Attwood

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Charles Attwood (1791-1875), ironmaster and glass maker, of Charles Attwood and Co

1791 Born on 25 January 1791 at Hawne House near Halesowen, the sixth of seven sons of Matthias Attwood (1746–1836) and his wife, Ann (1752–1835). Charles's grandfather, George Attwood, was involved in the West Midlands iron industry, as was his father.

Amongst Charles Attwood's brothers, several of whom were in banking, was James Henry Attwood (1785–1865), producer of zinc and west Cumbrian iron ore and Edward Attwood (1789–1866), Sunderland glass maker.

c. 1810 Charles acquired a minor share in a window glass factory at Saltmeadows in Gateshead.

c.1813 bought out his two partners; defendant in litigation for nine years before it was resolved in his favour, legally though not financially. Meanwhile he had patented a means for producing clearer glass.

1817 Attwood replaced the use of an extract of kelp in the manufacture of window glass with use of carbonate of soda[1]

1834 He started a company to make soap and alkali,

1840 he sold this concern to C. Allhusen and associates.

1845 Attwood established the Weardale Iron Co, leasing rights to ironstone in the manors of Stanhope and Wolsingham in Co. Durham.

1846 Managing partner in the expanded Weardale Iron and Coal Co which was controlled financially by Baring Brothers & Co; began to erect an iron-making plant and houses for employees on the edge of the Durham coalfield at Tow Law.

1849, 5 October, Patent sealed: Charles Atwood, Tow-law iron works - improvements in the manufacture of iron.

1852 Another processing plant was developed at Tudhoe near Spennymoor in Co. Durham, where the company set up iron refining furnaces, forging hammers, and rolling mills to widen the scope of its products; also opened three collieries.

1854 Obtained leases over 6000 acres near Guisborough

1858 He was a director of the Cleveland Railway Co.

1858 Began experiments at Tow Law with the production of steel by melting together cast iron and refined bar iron

1861 Installed a set of small Bessemer converters at Tudhoe but production was constrained by lack of investment.

1862 Patent the process for casting steel

1862 First licensee of C. W. Siemens's regenerative gas-fired furnace applied to making steel.

1864 Because of the refusal of Baring Brothers to participate in the exploitation of his patent, about 1864 Attwood built a new factory on his own account at Wolsingham, the Stanners Closes works.

1865 Attwood retired as managing partner of the Weardale company.

1875 Died at home on on 24 February

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Thirty-Third Meeting of the British Association at Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, 1864
  • Biography of Charles Attwood, ODNB [1]