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British Industrial History

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Brock Mill Forge

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in Haigh, near Wigan

1754 The forge was visited by Swedish industrial spy R. R. Angerstein, and he was evidently impressed by some of the things he saw, making great efforts to try to discover secrets. A short account of the history of the forge, with an account of Angerstein's findings, was written by Bob Blakeman [1]. Mr Blakeman refers to the originator of some of the inventions as 'Merlin', but in fact Angerstein wrote 'Mr. Melin'. The surname Melling is not uncommon in the Wigan area, and it seems likely that 'Melin' was Richard Melling, who is known to have worked at Brock Mill. Angerstein also refers to a self-regulating windmill invented by 'Mr. Melin'. In fact Melling's windmill was based on the work of another Brock Mill employee, blacksmith Edmund Lee who was granted a patent in England in 1745 for a 'self-regulating windmill', (he was also granted a patent in Holland for the same invention).[2]

1775. To be SOLD, by AUCTION,
On Friday the 26th Day of May Instant, at six o'Clock in the Evening, at the Dwelling House of Robert Fairbrother, being the Sign of the Bear’s Paw, in Wigan, in the County of Lancaster, by the Assignees of the Estate and Effects of Mr. James Wigan, a Bankrupt, subject to the Conditions of Sale to be then produced,
TWO MESSUAGES or DWELLING-HOUSES, together with a FORGE or SMITHEY, called Brock Mill Forge, with several Buildings, and other Appurtenances, thereunto belonging, situate in Haigh near Wigan, in the said County, for the Residue of a Term of sixteen Year yet to come, determinable on two Lives in being, in the Original Lease thereof, under Lady Bradshaigh, under a reserved Rent of 28l. a Year. The Forge is very conveniently situated near Wigan, and well supplied with Water, and all the Materials and Utensils in very good Repair, and capable of carrying on a very large and profitable Trade, and were late the Estate of the said James Wigan, a Bankrupt.
Any Person may view the Premises, and have further Particulars in the mean Time, by applying to Mr. Bromley, Attorney at Law, in Wigan.'[3]

1788 Works taken over by the Haigh Foundry Co[4]

1864 'Fatal Accident from the Fall of a Roof. — An accident of a serious character, but one whose disastrous results were very much less than might have been anticipated, occurred at Brock Mill Foundry, near Wigan, one of the extensive establishments in this neighbourhood of the Haigh Foundry Company, (Messrs. Birley and Thompson), on Saturday afternoon last. About two o'clock the whole of the roof of the engine-fitters' room, in which some ten or a dozen men were working, fell in with a terrible crash, but without the least warning of the impending accident. One of the workmen, a middle-aged man, named Henry Sharrock, who leaves a large family, was killed on the spot, and one other man received injuries, which, however, are not of a dangerous kind. The rest of the persons in the room escaped almost miraculously without hurts of any sort. Considerable damage has been done to the machinery.'[5]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] 'Past Forward', Issue No.44, 2006/7, pp.18-19, 'Brock Mill Forge' by Bob Blakeman, published by Wigan Heritage Service
  2. [2] 'Haigh Windmill, Haigh Village Nr Wigan' by Jason Kennedy, IHBC Newsletter, Summer 2011
  3. Manchester Mercury - Tuesday 23 May 1775
  4. [3] 'The Lindsays of Haigh'
  5. Sheffield Independent - Saturday 13 August 1864