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.

Seend Ironworks

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of Seend, near Melksham, Wiltshire

Seend Iron Co Ltd.

c.1858 Construction of iron smelting works to exploit the local rich iron ore commenced. See Great Western Iron Co.

1860 'Insolvent Petitioner.— John Batch Sheppard, an insolvent, renewed his petition for the protection of the Court. ..... The insolvent, who was formerly landlord of the Bell Inn, Seend, and who alleged that his business fell off in consequence of the suspension of work at the Seend Iron Works, which took place some time ago,.....'[1]

1861 Prospectus: ..... DIRECTORS:
Sir R. W. Garden, Alderman, Chairman of the City Bank, London
Benjamin Gibbons, Esq. Millfields Iron Works, Bilston, Athol House, Edgbaston, Birmingham.
Colonel Hay, Porchester-terrace, Hyde Park.
James Oliver Mason, Esq., Birmingham.
William Nicol, Esq., M.P., Director of London and County Bank.
William Sarl, Esq., Iron Works, Seend, Gresham House, London.
Consulting Engineer and Manager of Works, - S. H. Blackwell, Esq., Dudley
In the year 1857 a remarkable bed of iron ore was discovered at Seend, Wiltshire. This ore is within one foot of the surface, varying from 35 to 60 feet in thickness, easily worked in open cuttings, and yielding from 35 to 60 per cent, of Iron. The quantity of the ore is computed, from actual workings and trial pits, to exceed 10,000,000 tons. A contract has been entered into to make the pig iron and put it into the Company's trucks at 40s. per ton, including all royalties and all charges connected with the manufacture of the iron. The peculiar feature of this undertaking is, that in consequence of the great natural advantages possessed by the Seend Ironworks, iron can be smelted there to any extent at a cost which places it above all ordinary competition, and which must secure to this Company a good profit so long as the manufacture of iron forms a branch of the industry of Great Britain. .....'[2]

1867 Advert: 'SEEND IRON WORKS, near MELKSHAM, WILTSHIRE. MR. I. B. COOMBS is instructed to SELL by AUCTION, on the Premises above mentioned, on Wednesday the 27th day of February, 1867, a PORTION of the EFFECTS of the Wiltshire Iron Company (Limited), taken under execution by the Sheriff of Wilts.
Comprising about 1800 yards of iron rails and sleepers on tramways, drum and wire rope for propelling the ore wagons, 17 tip wagons, 10 iron slag and ash wagons, 20 tons of new gas and blast tubing, 35 new furnace plates for belts, 60 cinder stakes, 20 half-cwt. weights, double and single crab windlasses, lot of new and old wrought iron twiers and tubing, wrought iron plates, furnace tools, coke and mine barrows, 2000 furnace fire bricks, old iron, &c., a large variety of smith's tools smith's shop, and a few lots of neat household furniture. For further particulars see Handbills in circulation.....'[3]

1870 'The Seend Iron Works.— These works, which have been closed for the last two or three years, will, we hear, be again in blast in the course of the Spring, a new Company having just completed an arrangement for carrying them on with renewed vigour, and it is to be hoped, with more success than has hitherto attended them.'[4]

1870 'The Seend Iron Works.— In the hands of Messrs. Malcolm and Company, the new proprietors of these works, we trust that better fortune may attend the attempt to extract iron out of Seend soil than has hitherto accompanied it. We all know how severely the first company burnt their fingers; and how, ever since, the works have been set in motion only to be stopt again. But the Messrs. Malcolm seem to see a mode of rendering the works profitable, and have not only obtained possession of them, but have purchased land adjoining, not before included in the property, at a price which nothing but the absolute conviction that it contained something which would turn to gold, would warrant. At present only one furnace is in blast, but it will not be long before two others will be ready for use, and the present number of hands employed (something like 100) will then be considerably augmented. An addition of a dozen cottages to those previously erected for the accommodation of the men is being made; and should the works succeed, of which the Messrs. Malcolm are very sanguine, they will give impetus to Seend which it has never before received.'[5]

1873 Liquidation. '...Liquidation by Arrangement or Composition with Creditors, instituted by William Malcolm, and Samuel Smythe Malcolm, both of 19, St. Swithin's-lane, in the city of London, and of Seend Iron Works, Melksham, in the county of Wilts, and of 22, Exchange-square, Glasgow, Merchants and Copartners, trading under the styles or firms of Malcolms and Co., and W. and S. S. Malcolm and Co....'[6]

1873 'Work has been again resumed at the Seend Iron Works, and the furnaces are heated for full blast.'[7]

1877 'THE RAILWAY COMMISSION. Before Sir Frederick Peel and Mr Price. Westminster, Thursday. Traders on the and Avon Canal v. the Great Western Railway Company.— ...... The evidence on the part of the appellants was continued, Mr Joseph Matthews, boat owner at Chippenham, deposed that he traded as a carrier on the canal between Chippenham, Bristol, Calne, Melksham, and Bradford. He had been a boat-owner for 15 years. If the rates were reduced he could double his trade, as there was great demand for grain to be brought along the canal. Many people had applied to him to carry for them. If he could get on anything like an equality with the railway companies he could do a decent trade. The rates for pig - iron made it impossible to carry it except a loss. The Seend Iron Works, at Seend, Wilts, had failed several times, owing to the difficulties of carriage. There was a large quantity of valuable iron on these, which, if the rates were lower, wonld be largely worked for mixing with the Welsh ore. ....'[8]

1889 Advert: 'DISMANTLING SEEND IRONWORKS, MELKSHAM.— For Sale, cheap, 3 cylinder Egg-ended BOILERS, 35ft by 6ft 6in; 4 cylinder Boilers, 15ft by 3ft; two Tubes, 6ft diameter; one ditto, 15ft by 4ft 6in; pair horizontal Engines, 12in cylinder, 24in stroke; one 21 ton Truck Weighing Machine: one 7ft Trolly Weighing Machine, bed plate 6ft square; one 15 cwt Platform Weighing Machine: one wrought-iron Girder Railway Bridge crossing canal, 60ft by 14ft; large quantity new and secondhand Stourbridge Fire Brick Lumps, suitable for Lime, Brick, or Coke Burners,— Further particulars on application to Thos. Ward, Fitzalan Chambers, Sheffield; or Foreman at Works.'[9]

The iron ore at Seend was known from at least the mid 17th century but was not worked commercially until 1856/7. Before smelting was introduced at Seend, a tramway was constructed to the Kennet and Avon Canal and the ore taken by barge to Bristol and then across the Bristol Channel to South Wales by boat. Later a broad gauge railway was constructed from the blast furnaces to the GWR line and pig iron sent by rail. By 1868 there were 3 blast furnaces, 50 feet high, and 4 hot air ovens. Although the ore was very pure the business failed and the works were dismantled in 1889. [10]

More information Wiltshire OPC web site

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette, 9 August 1860
  2. London Evening Standard - Friday 7 June 1861
  3. Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette, 21 February 1867
  4. Salisbury and Winchester Journal - Saturday 1 January 1870
  5. Devizes and Wiltshire Gazette - Thursday 21 July 1870
  6. London Gazzette
  7. Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette - Thursday 6 March 1873
  8. Western Daily Press - Friday 16 February 1877
  9. Western Daily Press - Monday 23 December 1889
  10. [1] Wiltshire County Council - Wiltshire Community History website, Seend Iron Works