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British Industrial History

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Bloomfield Ironworks

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of Tipton, Staffordshire

Note: There was another Bloomfield Iron Works (no identified connection) at Monkwearmouth, Sunderland. Advertised to be sold or let by Matthew Robson, Jun., 48, West Sunniside, Sunderland.'[1]

Businesses which were located at the Bloomfield Ironworks included:

Over a period of years Tipton "Iron Master" Joseph Hall, developed and pioneered a new process of making wrought iron. This became known as 'pig boiling' or 'wet puddling' (as distinct from Henry Cort's 'dry puddling' process). The wrought iron was of high purity, and the process was less wasteful and required less time and labour than hitherto.

1830 November 25th. Joseph Hall and Thomas Lewis, with the help of Mr Croft and Mr Nicklin of Bloomfield, bought an old existing iron works from Messrs Aston and Others at Bloomfield, Tipton.

1831 April 16th. Hall bought out the share of Thomas Lewis

1831 April 19th. Hall sold a third share in the company to Richard Bradley and on the same day another third share to Frederick Isaac Welch as Bradley, Welch and Hall with logo of B.W.H. above a unicorn's head [2].

1832 November 22nd. Obtained a mortgage from Thomas Welch, a relative of Frederick's.

1834 June 29th. Frederick Isaac Welch sold his share to William Barrows to establish the firm of Bradley, Barrows and Hall. They were in business as Ironmasters of Bloomfield Iron Works, Tipton [3].

1838 New patents: 'Richard Bradley, William Barrows, and Joseph Hall, of Bloomfield iron-works, Staffordshire, iron-masters and co-partners, for an improved method or means of making iron. August 21; six months.' [4].

1844 John Joseph Bramah joined the partnership when Bradley retired; it became Bramah, Barrows, and Hall. The partnership was later celebrated for its superior brand of iron known as BBH. Note: other sources state that BBH brand was adopted in 1836 and stood for Bradley, Barrows and Hall[5]

1847 Became Barrows and Hall on Bramah's death

1848 Boiler explosion at Bloomfield ironworks. Two men were killed - Mr. Millington and William Perry, and several injured. The boiler, weighing 7 - 8 tons, had been blown across the canal a distance of upwards of 70 yards. 'Had it occurred ten minutes earlier, or had the boiler been projected into the works, as fortunately it was not, hundreds of lives would undoubtedly have been sacrificed. Not many minutes before, in consequence of the iron not being sufficiently hot, about 20 persons employed at a rolling mill immediately behind the boiler, threw the rolls out of work, and went off to amuse themselves. If they had been engaged at their usual occupations, not one of them, in all proabability, would have survived. At each side of the spot between two and three hundred persons were employed, and yet, with the exceptions we have alluded to, none of them were injured.[6]

1862 The partnership became W. Barrows and Sons who, since 1859, had been operating the Factory Works and Tipton Green Works.

1904 Advert: 'BLOOMFIELD IRON WORKS situate in Tipton, Staffordshire, comprising Bull Dog Kiln and Crushing Rolls, four forges, 10in. to 22in., with 57 Puddling and Ball Furnaces and six helve; a 24in. Boiler Plate and Sheet Mill, four Merchant Mills, 16in., 14in., and 10in.; and two Guide Mills, 8in. and 9in., with Mill Heating and Annealing Furnaces; the whole driven by 12 High Pressure and Condensing Engines, with connections to 23 Cylindrical and Rastrick Boilers, the whole complete with the necessary subsidiary Plant, and covered in with substantial Iron and Slate Roofs and within easy reach of the massively-built Warehouses, Stores, Fittings, Shops, Stabling, and Offices. There is a large Foundry, fitted with Cranes and Air Furnaces and roomy Pattern Stores.
The total AREA is 18a. 2r.16p. of which 14. 3r. 38p. is Freehold and 3a. 2r. 18p. is Leasehold. And included in the sale are the very vluable
MINERALS UNDER an AREA of 12a. 2r. 4p., the greater portion of which are reported to be in the solid, easily workable, and in themselves forming a Mineral Property rarely to be met with in the South Staffordshire area. With the Lot also is included
The GOODWILL & VALUABLE TRADE MARKS and old Business Connection, not including the Book Debts. ...'[7]

c.1904 The business of William Barrows and Sons at Bloomfield Iron Works was acquired by Benjamin Bunch and Sons of Staffordshire Ironworks, Walsall[8]

The ironworks site was sold and became Bloomfield Hall Colliery. This closed on 21 January 1921 with the ending of working on the Thick Seam. The colliery was subsequently replaced by the Brymill Steelworks (British Rolling Mills), which in turn was taken over by Tipton Bright Bar Firsteel Mill and Service Centre (Corus). This information largely comes from an archaeological impact assessment[9], which includes maps of the site at various dates.

In 1932 a business on the same site was callled Bailey, Barrows and Hall

Wrought iron plates from Bloomfield Ironworks were widely used in shipbuilding. At least two preserved Norwegian vessels have Bloomfield hull plates: the Hansteen (1866) and the tug 'Oscarborg' (1874)[10]


Business Names

Also connected

The Banbury Connection

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Sources of Information

  1. Newcastle Daily Chronicle - Saturday 10 March 1866 Newcastle Daily Chronicle, 10 March 1866
  2. Morning Post 4 November 1863
  3. London Gazette
  4. Staffordshire Advertiser, 15 September 1838
  5. Griffiths' Guide to the Iron Trade of Great Britain, by Samuel Griffiths, 1873
  6. Manchester Times, 4 July 1848
  7. Bristol Times and Mirror, 20 February 1904
  8. Walsall Observer, and South Staffordshire Chronicle - Saturday 15 May 1909
  9. [1] Birmingham Archaeology: Project No. 1461, July 2006. Former Corus Steelworks, Tipton Archaeological Impact Assessment (phase 1) by Shane Kelleher for David Wilson Homes (West Midlands)
  10. [2] Olaf T. Engvig website
  • R.A. Mott (1977) 'Dry and Wet Puddling', Transactions of the Newcomen Society, 49:1, 153-158, DOI: 10.1179/tns.1977.011