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Seend Iron Works

Seend Iron Works Date Photo Taken 1889
Uploaded 25/10/2007 08:29:35
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Original Media Location: Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre, Chippenham

The iron ore at Seend was known from at least the mid 17th century but was not worked commercially until 1856/7. The quarries and works were established before the branch line to Devizes was built and Seend railway station was sited near the quarry, rather than the village, because of the amount of freight involved - coal in and iron out.

At first the iron ore was not smelted on site but sent to South Wales and considerable profits were made on this. A tramway was constructed from the works to the Kennet and Avon Canal and the ore taken by barge to Bristol and then across the Bristol Channel by small sailing craft. Later a broad gauge railway was constructed from the blast furnaces to the GWR line and pig iron exported by rail.

By 1868 there were 3 blast furnaces, 50 feet high, 4 hot air ovens, a beam engine and boilers and 'gas apparatus'. At that time 2 of the furnaces were in use, producing 150 tons of iron per furnace per week. A good number of local men were employed quarrying (it was open cast mining) and working the furnaces. Unfortunately the business suffered from mismanagement at the hands of several companies and , although the ore was very pure the business closed and the works were dismantled in 1889. The quarries, the ironmaster's house, Ferrun Towers, and evidence of the tramway remain.

This photograph was taken in the early stages of the dismantling of the works.

Ore was extracted again in the early 20th century for some years but none was smelted on the site.

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