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Skinningrove Iron Works Blast Furnaces

A picture postcard showing the blast furnaces and pig beds at Skinningrove Iron Works.  These are the 5 original, stone-built, blast furnaces at Skinningrove Iron Works (no Steel in the title then – we are not even sure it was called Skinningrove Iron Works  – at this time). The furnaces were hand-loaded with large two-wheeled barrows which ran on knife-edge iron wheels (to minimise the rolling resistance), hence the gallery connecting the furnaces to the lift housings. The iron was tapped directly into a sand gully, called a sow, which had many branches, called pigs (hence the term pig-iron), each the same size and pressed into the sand with a specially-shaped former. When sufficiently cool the pigs were loaded onto trucks and taken to the jetty, via an incline, rope-hauled, railway, and then in company steamships to steelworks and iron foundries in Durham and Middlesbrough.  Eventually they were even transported to Europe. All of these stone-built furnaces were eventually demolished and new furnaces built; of which no. 3 and no. 5 survived.

Image courtesy of the Pem Holliday Collection.

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