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British Industrial History

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Perran Foundry

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Cast iron lintel still in-situ at the derelict foundry (2009)

Perran Foundry, of Perranarworthal, near Falmouth, Cornwall, was an innovative concern run by the Fox family of Falmouth and other Quaker business families.

Samuel Tregelles (1766–1831), merchant and rope maker, was one of the twelve partners from its establishment in 1791[1].

1791 The foundry was set up on the site of a tin smelting works by Robert Were Fox and John Williams of Scorrier to supply machinery to the Gwennap copper mines. Other shareholders were the Price and Tregelles families of Falmouth and Penryn.

1793 Acquired the Neath Abbey Iron Works.

Perran concentrated on the production of smaller components, larger items being constructed at the Neath Abbey ironworks.

Although Fox was anticipating the expiry in 1800 of Boulton and Watt's patent rights on the manufacture of steam engines, it was not until the 1830s that large Cornish engines were being built at the Perran foundry.

1825 Charles Fox became General Manager of the Perran Iron Foundry at Perranarworthal, taking over from George Fox the second; Charles was also a partner in the family shipping brokerage G. C. Fox at Falmouth.

1842 Charles Fox's nephew, Barclay Fox, became General Manager.

The foundry was later operated in partnership with the Williams Family, and in 1858, it was sold to them.

The creek serving the factory silted up and mining in Cornwall declined. The wharf had been used to import timber for the mining industry from Scandinavia.

1851 Made cylinders for a massive blowing engine for Dowlais Ironworks

1857 Made cylinders for powerful rolling mill engines for Dowlais Ironworks

1865 Loam and Son of Perran Foundry produced the largest beam blowing engine ever built in Britain to the Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Co. This had a a 72" bore steam cylinder and a 144" bore air cylinder. [2]

1870s The slump in the mining industry during the 1870s hit Perran Foundry badly

1878 Supplied a beam pumping engine to Hodbarrow Iron Mines in Cumberland

1879 The foundry closed in March with the loss of 400 jobs, causing great distress in the parish.



Note: There are extensive remains of the foundry buildings. The buildings were in very poor condition, but extensive restoration has been undertaken, converting some of the buildings for housing. Other parts await restration (2019).

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Biography of Edwin Tregelles, ODNB [1]
  2. 'The Cornish Beam Engine' by D. B. Barton (D Bradford Barton, new edition, 1966)
  • [] Wikipedia (Misc)
  • The Steam Engine in Industry by George Watkins in two volumes. Moorland Publishing. 1978/9. ISBN 0-903485-65-6