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British Industrial History

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Moor Ironworks

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of Stockton-on-Tees

See also Moor Steel and Iron Works Johnson and Reay Shaw, Johnson and Reay

1872 'New Ironworks at Stockton. — The Moor Ironworks, situated upon the west side of the borough, and erected upon land purchased from Messrs Wren, are now in active operation. We take the following description of the works from the Iron and Coal Trades Review : — The proprietors are Messrs Shaw, Johnson and Reay. The works are laid for the manufacture of puddled bars and plates, though the addition of a sheet mill and rail mill is contemplated. There are 24 puddling furnaces, working into six vertical internal flued boilers, built by Blair and Co. , Stockton. The boilers are 8 feet 6 inches diameter, 24 feet high, and the internal tube is 4 feet 3 inches diameter. The hammer is 3½ tons, by Messrs Davy Brothers, Sheffield. The engines (a pair of horizontal direct acting, by Coupe and Co., Wigan,) are 31 inches diameter of cylinder and 4 feet stroke, and drive on one side a 24 inch forge train, consisting of three pairs of rolls, and on the other side a reversing plate mill 25 inches diameter, with rolls 6 feet 6 inches long. The puddled bars are cut down hot by a pair of shears from Messrs Collier & Co., Manchester. There are six plate furnaces working into three upright egg-ended boilers by Messrs Saul, Foley, & Co., of Bilston. The gearing, which is very massive, has been supplied by Messrs Perry and Son, of Bilston, who are also supplying an extra strong pair of plate shears with steelings 7 feet 6 inches long cut 1½ inch steel plates. The rolls have been supplied by Messrs I. and S. Roberts, of West Bromwich, and the general castings by Messrs Smith and Thomson. The pinions for the forge are by Messrs Taylor and Farley, and those for the plate mill are by Messrs T. Perry and Son. The roofing has been done by Messrs Lauder and Mellanby. There are two chimneys of the same size, one for the forge, and one for the mill, each 150 feet high and 10 feet square inside at the base. The ashes are taken away from all the furnaces by means of flues underground, and the works are raised 9 feet above the level of the surrounding land. The first sod was cut on the 19th of October, 1871, and the first puddled bar rolled on Thursday, 12th April. There are now 18 furnaces at work.'[1]

1872: 'STOCKTON.—Mr James Shaw, of the firm of Shaw & Thompson, metal brokers, London, and the Moor Ironworks, Stockton, has now publicly announced his intention of becoming a candidate at the next Parliamentary election for Stockton in the Conservative interest...... '[2]

1872: 'PROSECUTIONS UNDER THE MASTERS AND SERVANTS ACT. On Saturday, a special Borough Court was held at Stockton, for the purpose of disposing of a number of charges against workmen, which had been laid under the 9th section of the Masters and Servants Act, 1867. by Messrs. Shaw, Johnson, and Reay, of the Moor Iron-works, Stockton, who alleged that the 41 defendants had absented themselves from service on the 19th November, and they claimed 17s. 6d. compensation from each defendant. Seven witnesses were examined in support of the prosecution, and 21 witnesses were called in behalf of the defendants. From the statements of these witnesses it seems that both the firm and the workmen are members of the Board of Arbitration and Conciliation in the North of England iron trade, but that the men had put themselves wrong with the Arbitration Board by striking work, instead of lodging their grievances with the Board. According to Mr. Frederick William Stoker, manager of the works, he had until three weeks ago supplied the puddlers with best Whitworth screened coals, for use at their furnaces. He had recently tried various kinds of coals, with a view to economy, some of them costing 17s. 6d. per ton. On the 13th instant a deputation from the puddlers complained to him that too much small coals were supplied to them, and they talked about leaving off work. He promised that better coals should be supplied, and by the Monday night, when work stopped, he had provided eighteen tons Shildon unscreened, 10 tons Howden Main, and 4 tons Whitworth Colliery best screened coals for their use. The night-shift men went to work as usual at five o'clock on the Monday evening, but after the second heats were drawn, about nine o'clock, the whole of them stopped work, alleging that the coal was nothing but dirt. The loss to the firm was at least £5 for each man, but only 17s 6d each compensation was claimed,the avowed object of the prosecution being to show the men that they were not at liberty to leave Work without giving due notice. Next morning the day-shift men went upon the works as usual, but being informed of what had occurred the previous evening, the all went home again, and another class, called by-shift men, followed their example. Several witnesses said that they saw the coal at the puddling furnace. In their opinion it was good forge coal; one had never seen better. In defence, Mr. Skidmore, barrister, said that to make an engagement binding, employers were bound to supply their workmen with good material. During the three weeks preceding the strike the men had worked much harder and earned less money. They had complained to the manager that they could not go on with the coals supplied, and it was only when they found coals be- coming nothing better than dust and clay that they stopped altogether. Under these circumstances, he contended that the employers had committed the first breach of contract, and that the men were justified in their proceedings. He called Mr. Edward Trow, vice-president of the Board of Arbitration, who said that he was not employed upon the prosecutors' works. He had inspected the coal lying at the puddling furnaces, and did not consider it suitable for the purpose. It was not capable of producing the necessary heat, therefore it did not only cause more labour for the men, but it also wasted the iron. The other witnesses deposed that they had either seen or worked the coal. Some of them pronounced it as mis-named coal and all agreed that much more labour was required to earn a less amount of wages. The Mayor said that, having carefully considered the whole of the evidence, the Bench were unanimously of opinion that the men, having entered upon their Contract, had broken it without just cause. The night shift men must pay 17s. 6d. each compensation with cost, or, in default, one month’s imprisonment at Durham gaol. The crowd in the court broke out into cries of "We will go to Durham." The Bench having sat more than five hours, adjourned the hearing of the cases against the day. shift and off-shift men until another special sitting to-morrow.'[3]

1872: 'MORE STRIKES IN THE IRONWORKS. —In addition to the strike of puddlers, who object to the quality of coals supplied to them, at the Moor Ironworks, Stockton, and against forty-one of whom proceedings for breach of contract have commenced, the carpenters, masons, smiths, and fitters employed at the Stockton Rail Mill, the Stockton Malleable Ironworks, and the West Stockton Ironworks, struck work on Tuesday. .....'[4]

1874 'FALL IN THE PRICE OF IRON.- The Agent-General for New Zealand is stated to have just made a contract with Messrs. Shaw and Thomson, of Leadenhall-street and the Moor Ironworks, Stockton-on-Tees, for 9,000 tons of rails for shipment during this year. The extent of the recent fall in the price of iron may be judged (the Times observes) from the fact that the Indian Government contracted with the same firm for 9,000 tons of similar rails less than six weeks ago, and the difference in price between the two contracts is £13,500 in favour of the New Zealand Government.'[5]

1874 'HORRIBLE DEATH AT IRONWORKS. An accident occurred at Stockton-on-Tees, Saturday, at the Moor Ironworks, owned by Messrs. Shaw, Johnson and Reay, of London and Glasgow. Joseph Wicks, 17 years of age, was standing upon a block of wood in front of the moving rollers of the plate mill, when he accidentally slipped from the wood, and his feet being caught by the rollers, the whole body was drawn through them. The boy's thighs were much torn and the remainder of the body was dreadfully crushed. Death was instantantous.'[6]

1880 'Serious Accident at the Moor Ironworks, Stockton. This afternoon, about 3 o’clock, an accident of a singular nature happened to two workmen at the Moor Ironworks. They were in the act of cutting some 2¾-inch plate at the flapping-down shears when the ponderous wheel flew in two, half of it descending where the men were standing, inflicting serious flesh wounds about the face and legs of Peter Rafferty, labourer, and injuring Michael Thimblety, gaffer. They were conveyed to the cabin, and Dr. Dixon was soon in attendance.'[7]

1882 'RESTARTING OF THE WORKS. On Saturday, a petition for the liquidation of the estate of Messrs Johnson and Reay, iron manufacturers and colliery owners, was filed in the Stockton County Court. Arrangements have been made for starting the Moor Ironworks to-day. There are some good contracts on hand, which will keep the works going for six or seven weeks, and it is hoped that by executing these contracts a dividend of Is in the pound will be realised. There are also some unprofitable contracts on the books, but the liquidators will have nothing to do with these.'[8]

1882 'THE HEAVY FAILURE IN THE IRON TRADE. Yesterday a creditors' meeting Messrs. Johnson and Reay, of the Moor Ironworks, Stockton, and Castle Eden and other collieries, Was held at Middlesborough. The liabilities were placed at £168,397, and the assets only £4,835, the whole property, plant, stock, tools, stores, etc., being secured by the mortgagees, consisting of two banking firms. A large gathering of creditors appeared, and there was considerable dissatisfaction. It was resolved to liquidate, and a committee inspection was appointed.'[9]

1883 'The electric light has been abandoned at the Moor Ironworks, Stockton, in favour of gas, after a trial of over three years.'[10]

1888 'THE STEEL TRADE. We understand that Messrs Wm. Whitwell and Co., of the Thornaby Crude and Manufactured Ironworks, South Stockton, are about to lay down plant for steel making purposes. Steel has for some time been made the Moor Iron Company's Works, and the Malleable Iron Company are engaged in converting a portion their premises into steel works.'[11]

1900 'We understand that Sir Christopher Furness has arranged for the purchase of the works of the South Durham Steel and Iron Company, which are the West Hartlepool Steel and Iron Works, the Malleable Works, and the Moor Iron Works at Stockton. The price is just under a million pounds, and the prospectus will issued in the third week of March. '[12]

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Daily Gazette for Middlesbrough, 8 May 1872
  2. Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 27 May 1872
  3. Manchester Times, 30 November 1872
  4. Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer, 28 November 1872
  5. West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser, 30 April 1874
  6. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 14 September 1874
  7. Hartlepool Mail, 27 September 1880
  8. Northern Echo, 22 May 1882
  9. Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser, 14 June 1882
  10. York Herald, 30 June 1883
  11. Hartlepool Mail, 1 August 1888
  12. Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette, 3 March 1900