Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,139 pages of information and 245,599 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Walker Ironworks

From Graces Guide

Walker Ironworks, Walker, Newcastle upon Tyne


Early 19th century: William Losh was in charge of Walker Alkali Works

1809 Recognising the increasing interest in iron, William Losh established ironworks at Walker involving his senior staff, Thomas Wilson and Thomas Bell.[1]

c.1814 William Losh developed confidence in the abilities of George Stephenson who built locomotives for Hetton Colliery at Losh's works[2]

1816 William Losh and George Stephenson took out a patent jointly on conveying by railways and tramways and methods of constructing machine, carriages and carriage wheels for that purpose. At the same time, Mr. Losh guaranteed Stephenson a salary of £100 per annum, with a share in the profits arising from his inventions, conditional on his attending at the Walker Ironworks two days a week, an arrangement agreed with the owners of the Killingworth Colliery.

c. 1821 William Losh was a partner with George Stephenson in the Walker Ironworks.

By 1827 The proprietors of Walker Ironworks were Losh, Wilson and Bell[3]; they erected large rolling mills at the works.

1827 A powerful rolling mill was erected at the mill, capable of turning out 100 tons per week of bar iron.

1827 Walker Alkali Works had the same address[4]

1833 Puddling process installed

1835 Isaac Lowthian Bell started work at the works.

1838 A second mill was installed for rolling rails. John Vaughan, the superintendent of this mill, by virtue of his character and practical knowledge about iron, exercised a powerful influence on the young Lowthian Bell.

1842 Owing to a shortage of pig iron, the firm decided to put down a blast furnace plant; Bell supervised the erection. The first furnace was designed for smelting mill cinder.

1842 George Dove was made chief engineer of the Walker Ironworks of Losh, Wilson and Bell.

1842 'Mr. Bell, jun., and other agents in these works observe that- Various countrymen are here employed. There are perhaps 100 Irishmen, who are not skilful or ambitious, but both witty and good tempered. There are perhaps 50 Scotch here, who are mostly sober industrious and skilful. There may be a dozen Welshmen: those are rather given to drinking, but are good workmen. Of Englishmen there are all sorts in all branches, and they are of all grades of character. There is by no means a general disposition to economize amongst the men; and it may be said in general the more he gets the less he saves, and the less he gets the more he saves. The highly paid workman have hot work, and become therefore thirsty, and take by degree to drinking, which is the origin of their improvidence. Teetotalism is be no means prevalent. Some men take 8 or 9 glasses of raw spirits in the course of the morning.'[5]

1843 Losh, Wilson and Bell began to use ore from Grosmont.

1844 A second furnace was added; experimented with use of Cleveland ironstone from Grosmont. These experiments prepared the way for the opening-up of the Cleveland iron industry c.1850.

1845 On the death of their father, Isaac Lowthian Bell and his brothers took over the direction of the Walker works.

1855 "The Walker Iron Works on the north bank of the Tyne are very extensive, and afford employment to several hundred persons. Alkalis and other chemicals are manufactured in considerable quantities, and iron ship building is carried on to a great extent. In fact, the whole side of the Tyne, in this township, is crowded with factories of various kinds, copperas works, saw mills, seed crushing mills, ballast wharfs, coal staiths, etc. There is also an extensive colliery here worked by Messrs. Nathaniel Lambert and Co. Walker was made into a distinct parish for ecclesiastical purposes in 1836." [6]

c.1865 Bells, Goodman and Co operated the Ironworks

1875 Bells, Lightfoot and Co were at the Ironworks

In the 1870s Bell, Ridley, and Bell were running the Walker Iron Works, Newcastle-on-Tyne.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Worthies of Cumberland, by Henry Lonsdale 1873
  2. The Worthies of Cumberland by Henry Lonsdale 1873
  3. History, Directory and Gazetteer of Durham & Northumberland, 1827
  4. History, Directory & Gazetteer of Durham & Northumberland, 1827
  5. Children's Employment Commission, Mines, Appendix part1. 1842. Children's Employment Commission, Mines. 1842. The Tyne and its Tributaries, W.J Palmer, 1882.
  6. William Whellan & Co., History of Northumberland, 1855
  • Biography of Archibald Dundonald, ODNB [1]
  • Sir Isaac Lowthian Bell [2]