Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Walker Ironworks

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Walker Ironworks, Walker, Newcastle upon Tyne

1790 Archibald Dundonald joined the brothers John and William Losh in experiments on the production of synthetic soda from salt at Woodside near Carlisle.

c.1793 The results were sufficiently promising to justify setting up a works at Bells Close, west of Newcastle upon Tyne, where Dundonald had a tar distillery.

1797 the Losh family inherited a share in a coalmine at Walker in which a brine spring had been discovered which provided a private source of salt.

William Losh visited Paris at Dundonald's suggestion to learn what he could about Leblanc's new process for converting salt to soda. The Walker works was the first in England to work the Leblanc process but the original partnership soon dissolved and the Losh brothers, trading as Walker Alkali Works, were able to develop a profitable chemical business without Dundonald.

c. 1821 William Losh was a partner with George Stephenson in the Walker Ironworks.

By 1827 The proprietors of Walker Ironworks were Losh, Wilson and Bell[1]

1827 A powerful rolling mill was erected at the mill, capable of turning out 100 tons per week of bar iron

1833 Puddling process installed in 1833

1835 Isaac Lowthian Bell, son of Thomas Bell (2), started work at the works.

1838 A second mill was installed for rolling rails. John Vaughan, the superintendent of this mill, by virtue of his character and practical knowledge about iron, exercised a powerful influence on the young Lowthian Bell.

1842 Owing to a shortage of pig iron, the firm decided to put down a blast furnace plant; Bell supervised the erection. The first furnace was designed for smelting mill cinder.

1844 second furnace added; experimented with use of Cleveland ironstone from Grosmont. These experiments prepared the way for the opening-up of the Cleveland iron industry c.1850.

1845 on the death of his father, Lowthian Bell took over the direction of the Walker works

1855 "The Walker Iron Works on the north bank of the Tyne are very extensive, and afford employment to several hundred persons. Alkalis and other chemicals are manufactured in considerable quantities, and iron ship building is carried on to a great extent. In fact, the whole side of the Tyne, in this township, is crowded with factories of various kinds, copperas works, saw mills, seed crushing mills, ballast wharfs, coal staiths, etc. There is also an extensive colliery here worked by Messrs. Nathaniel Lambert and Co. Walker was made into a distinct parish for ecclesiastical purposes in 1836." [2]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. History, Directory & Gazetteer of Durham & Northumberland, 1827
  2. William Whellan & Co., History of Northumberland, 1855
  • Biography of Archibald Dundonald, ODNB [1]
  • Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell [2]