Staffordshire Working Lives
Apedale Ironworks near Chesterton, north-west of  Newcastle-under-Lyme, ?late 19th  century

Apedale Ironworks near Chesterton, north-west of Newcastle-under-Lyme, ?late 19th century
©Staffordshire Record Office: (C/P/14/12/6/3)

Explanation and calculations for the production of iron from different ironstones.
Various members of the Gibbons family operated iron works at Corbyns Hall in Kingswinford in south-western Staffordshire near Dudley.
Schedule of furnaces, casting-house, engine and wharf
The whole lease this is taken from is very long, relating to various lands at Willenhall, Bloxwich near Walsall, and Bentley between Willenhall and Walsall.
The supply of tinplate
Tinplating is the coating of iron sheets with tin to protect them from corrosion. The manufacture of tinplate began in Staffordshire in the 18th century: a tinplate works had been built at Oakamoor by 1777
The rolling of copper and brass wire
Account by Dr Richard Wilkes of Willenhall of a visit to the Brass Works at Cheadle and Alton, January 1738 (5350) Dr Wilkesí was a physician who kept a very general daily journal.


The metal industry Staffordshire was dominated by the production of iron in the south of the county, “the Black Country”. There was a large supply of ironstone, and the furnaces were easily fuelled by the coal or coke also found in abundance there. But there were also ironworks in operation in north Staffordshire near the coal mines, such as at Silverdale near Newcastle-under-Lyme. From the time of the industrial revolution, these would have been steam-furnaces which used an engine, and a good water supply would have been essential.

Very often the iron furnaces would be on the same site as the coal mine, with minimal distances to get the fuel to the furnaces, and with shared transport links for the coal and iron that was being sent out. The furnaces had to be very sturdy buildings with think walls, often reinforced with iron, to withstand the heat, and they were designed around the required structure of the steam-engines and other machinery. Detailed description of the processes involved, and a schedule of buildings and machinery are shown in this selection of documents, both of which give an indication of what work was being carried out.

Related to the iron trade, tin plate was also produced in the county. These were thin rolled or beaten sheets of iron that were coated with tin to prevent corrosion. These sheets could then be sold on to manufacturers of finished products. An early tin plate manufactury was located in Oakamoor in the southern Moorlands in the 18th century where there were small-scale works for iron and other metals. The manufacturer illustrated in this series was located in Kings Bromley on the canal system so having good transport connections.

In the north of the county, there were also copper and brass works, the metal ore being produced from mines in the Staffordshire Moorlands. For related documents see the section on mines and quarrying. There were mills in which the metal was smelted from the stone, and then rolled. The major manufacturer had sites in Cheadle, Alton and Oakamoor, the latter locations being in the Churnet Valley and so having good water power from the river as it passed through the narrow gorges.

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