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BRYMBO IRON WORKS; BRYMBO IRONWORKS

Site Details

© Copyright and database right 2019. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey licence number 0100022206

NPRN 34054

Map Reference SJ25SE

Grid Reference SJ29445355

Unitary (Local) Authority Wrexham

Old County Denbighshire

Community Brymbo

Type of Site IRON WORKS

Broad Class INDUSTRIAL

Period Post Medieval, 20th Century, 19th Century, 18th Century

Site Description In 1792 John Wilkinson purchased the 500 acre estate of Brymbo Hall for the sum of £14,000, with the intention of developing an iron works using the mineral and coal deposits that were known to exist on the site. With the invention and development of the steam engine Wilkinson was able to found an iron works away from running water as steam could now provide blast for blast furnaces. In the years between 1792-1798 Wilkinson was sinking mines near to the site to provide ore for his planned iron works and by 1795 the site that remains today, excluding the fitter’s workshop, was under construction. By the end of 1796 the first output of iron was recorded as 884 tonnes, which meant Brymbo’s one-hundred and ninety-four year association with metalworking had begun. In 1808 Wilkinson died at the age of 83 and the works passed into a trusteeship. By 1818 John and James Thompson were renting the iron works for a yearly sum of £1,500 and in 1820 the original blast furnace was decommissioned and a new furnace was build on the same site, which is the only remaining blast furnace today. In 1842 Henry Robertson, with financial backing, acquired the iron works and in 1846 ‘The Brymbo Company’ was formed, with William, Henry and Charles Darby, descendants of Abram Darby, taking over the sites management. In 1847 a new blowing engine was installed, taking the blast furnace output from 50 to 84 tonnes per week. Between 1856 and 1880 the iron works underwent a large amount of development with new hot air stoves to help improve the blast, bell tops were added to the furnaces, alterations to the foundry and in 1872 blast furnace number three was erected with a Haigh Blowing Engine to increase output. Communications were improved in 1877 with the installation of a Wheatstone Telegraph and by 1880 telephones had made their way to the iron works. Towards the end of the 19th century steel started becoming a production priority and in 1883 an experimental Open-Hearth steel furnace was erected, with the results being so successful that Robertson made the decision to found a steel plant. On June 4th 1884 The Brymbo Steel Company was incorporated and its operations began the following year. In 1894 Number Four blast furnace was constructed to replace Number Three, and was equipped with three Cowper stoves, a dust catcher and three Lancashire boilers blown by a Davy Engine. In the same year Old Number One blast furnace was damped down for the last time after ninety-eight years of work. By the 1930’s the demand for iron had decreased sufficiently that it became a minor part of the works, with steel the focus at Brymbo. Today the site comprises largely of the original Brymbo iron works as constructed by Wilkinson in the 1790’s and Thompson’s in 1820, consisting of Old Number One blast furnace (NPRN: 34055), Charging Wall (NPRN: 418127), Patternmakers & Carpenters Workshop (NPRN: 418128), Cast House & Foundry (NPRN: 34056) and the Agents House (NPRN: 26839); the 1920’s Fitter’s Workshop (NPRN: 418933) also remains.

Historical information drawn from The Story of Brymbo, Brymbo Steel Works Limited and Cadw listings.

Ross Cook, RCAHMW. 13th December 2012


Iron was first produced here in around 1798 just to the north of the later steelworks (NPRN 305753). In 1885 the Brymbo Company installed a basic open hearth steep furnace with a large steam hammer and a rolling mill. The early blast furnace, cast house and foundry which survive on the ironworks site are now Scheduled Ancient Monuments. The steelworks to the south closed in 1990 with a loss of 1,100 jobs and the entire site has since been cleared and reclaimed excepting the historic parts of the Ironworks.

T. Driver, RCAHMW, 17th April 2009.

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