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British Industrial History

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Aydon and Elwell

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1819. Metal plaque.

Aydon & Elwell of Shelf Iron Works, near Bradford, Yorkshire

Iron founders, whose specialities included iron bridges with movable spans.

1796 Said to have pioneered the use of cast iron for the main beams of beam engines[1]

Samuel Aydon (Ayton) and William Elwell were partners in the company. They made steam engines for textile mills, including Ossett Mill (1803). The firm was apparently bankrupt in 1824 and was taken over by the Low Moor Company.[2]. The entry for Elwell in the above reference includes a listing of major contracts, starting with Rails for Lake Lock Railroad (Wakefield,1798), Wapping Docks entrance swing bridge (1804), and sixteen other bridges built up to 1820.

1819 Iron bridge extant over River Aire at Buttershaw, Yorkshire.[3]

1821 'PARTNERSHIP DISSOLVED. NOTICE is hereby given, That the PARTNERHIP lately subsisting between SAMUEL AYDON and WILLIAM ELWELL, of the Shelf Iron Works, near Bradford, in the County of York, Iron Masters and Iron Founders, under the Firm of Aydon and Elwell, is this Day DISSOLVED by mutual Consent; that One-half of all Debts owing by them as Partners, will be paid by Samuel Aydon, and the other Half by William Elwell; that the Business of making Cast Iron Goods in distinct Parts of the Shelf Iron Works will hereafter be carried on by Samuel Aydon, on his separate account: and that the Business of making Pig Iron, in another Part ot those Iron Works, will hereafter be carried on by William Elwell, on his separate Account.— Dated the 5th Day of Sept. 1821. SAMUEL AYDON. WILLIAM ELWELL. Witnesses John Birks, Joseph Lister.' [4]

1903 'The old Lancastrian school at Carr House, Lane, Shelf, is about to lose its old-time appearance. It bas been bought by the Bethel Chapel trustees, and they are going to enlarge and alter it and make it into an up to date Sunday School. .... The school was built principally through the exertions of Messrs. Aydon and Elwell, the founders, in 1794. of Shelf Ironworks. They were famous as bridge builders in iron. The bridge over the River Aire at Newlay, and the bridge over the Spa Cliffe Ravine at Scarborough, opened with great pageantry on the 19th July, 1821, were both erected by them.'[5]

1906 photographs of the remains of the iron works can be viewed online[6]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'Power from Steam' by Richard L Hills: Cambridge University Press
  2. ‘A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 1’ edited by Sir Alec Skempton
  3. [1]Recent photographs of bridge at Buttershaw
  4. Leeds Intelligencer - Monday 17 September 1821
  5. Bradford Weekly Telegraph - Saturday 26 September 1903
  6. [2]Online photographs. Note: Website ( no longer available (March 2020)