In April and May 2011 NexusHeritage began a series of community archaeology workshops at Stirchley Furnaces, in TelfordTownPark. This followed on from earlier work at Hinkshay.
The Stirchley furnace site was built in the early 1820s by Thomas Botfield. The three Botfield brothers owned several ironworks in Shropshire; indeed their Old Park works was the second largest in the country in the first decade of the 19th century. The Stirchley furnaces site was part of an ironworking complex that also included a canal wharfs, ironstone and coal mines, the Stirchley forge, and workers' housing at Hinkshay.
The four furnaces used hot blast, and may have been the first furnaces in the country to do so. They were in use until the 1850s when the Botfield firm collapsed; the site was later brought back into use briefly in the 1870s and 1880s, but this was not successful. Some of the furnaces were later adapted for charcoal burning.
The archaeological project has so far involved:
- excavation of part of the southern furnace
- historic building recording of two furnaces
- landscape survey of the remainder of the site
Future work will include excavation of the refinery and blowing engine, as well as historical research. The community archaeology programme has involved members of the Dawley History Society, the Wrekin Historical Group and the Wrekin Local Studies Forum. Work on the related StirchleySlagWorks has already taken place, and future work on the furnaces site is planned for later in 2012.
More information about the Stirchley site can be found by clicking on this link∞.
Go back to the NexusHeritage community archaeology page, or visit our website∞.
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