Gazetteer of the Ironworks in the Severn Valley and Wyre Forest Area

  • 17 Jan 2012
  • Archaeology
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For the purpose of this work it is necessary to use the old boundaries of the Forest of Wyre, which approximated from the Forest Gate (Foregate) of the City of Worcester northwards to the Stour Valley, and westward to the valley of the Teme, taking in the present area of the Wyre Forest. The ironworks of the Stour Valley have a unity of their own and are not included here.

1- Worcester, Black Friars Site Between Broad Street and the railway viaduct, and from near the Cross west to the river is a vast field of iron bloomery slag left from Roman workings. It was from here that Yarrenton and others 'carried thousands of tunnes of Roman Cinders' up Severn for re-smelting in their furnaces.

2- Worcester, Little Severn Where the present bridge stands was an island, and the eastern channel was known as 'Little Severn'. Here was a blade mill until the mid-18th century.

Worcester, Pope Iron An early iron working site in Barbourne Park (now Ghulevelt Park). There were three large pools until very recently, so typical of iron workings, and the name is significant: Mrs. Mercy Pope and her husband Bromwich Pope, c.1717, had forges at Dick Brook and at Worcester.

Worcester, Henwick Roman Slag has been found in Laugherne Brook just above Henwick Mill, and upstream is evidence of a three-pool system.

3- Worcester, Powick Mills Iron was made here in the early 16th century, and until about 1800. Here were three fineries and a slit-ting mill. In the river bed near the old bridge can be seen many furnace bottoms, and the nearby weir is almost completely made of great bulks of iron slag, as is the wall on the west side of the tail race of the old Electric Powers Station.

Grimley, Thorngrove A series of pools in the grounds and reports of large furnace bottoms which stood until recently near the gravel pits point to an iron site.

4-Ombersley, Turn Mill At the west end of Ombersley Pools is an area of black cinders and a trackway with embankments and cuttings leading to the Severn. Three traces of a brick wharf with charcoal and iron clippings, under two feet of slit, have been found.

Shrawley, Shotgrove On a hill overlooking the Lenchford Hotel is a wooden hill with a series of pools. These and the name suggests a 17th century ironworks.

Astley, Yarranton's Furnace Dick Brook - This is one of the most important iron sites in the county. The remains of the 1652 furnace was embedded in the dam holding up Sharpley Pool.

Notes on above:

  1. An order in the City Council Chamber Book, 1653: 'Digging Synder on Little Pichcroft' (Pitchcroft). Permission given to Capt. Yarranton and others to dig in the said meadow.
  2. Blade Mill on Little Severn (and Waterworks). An 18th century bill states wheels, the main wheel being 56 ft by 16 ft wide.
  3. Powick Mills. Early 16th century: 'Near Powick iron was being made'. There was a Forge and Slitting Mill. Walls of iron slag and weir mostly of iron. The River Teme was navigable until c .1800, up to Powick till 1910. There were 7 wheels turning in the 1890s, with a corn and dressing, clover mill, and a clay 'pug' mill. They were demolished 1924, the tenements and master's house in 1970.
  4. Ombersley Mill. The Sandys and the Lloyd families here were connected with iron making.

Shrawley, Olivers Mount Large pools and massive dams with rock-cut platforms suggest an early iron site. On the mount stood a Norman castle, and when the foundations were excavated in 1928 a large quantity of slag and cinders were found up Sharpley Pool.