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Beeley Woods industrial archaeology

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I'm currently looking at the large scale industrial archaeology in Beeley Woods. Between the Don and the railway there was a lot of mining and some of it is still fenced off. Nearer (and in) the river there are large weirs, slipways, and more. I can't find much about it online or had much luck finding books on the area. Can the good folk on here assist with maps and information that would point me in the right direction about it's history. It's an interesting look round if you don't know it :)

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1637 Harrison’s Survey – Robert Matheman and James Lister occupy parts of Billy Wood

30 June 1827 Messrs Wilson and Hawksworth advertise for sale their shear steel forge with all machinery and gearing recently repaired and weirs, shuttles and dam enlarged.

1749 Thomas Boulsover holds lease of land (from the Duke of Norfolk) for £3 p.a. to build a grinding wheel, with an option to convert to a tilt forge. During this lease the rent of £9 for Nova Scotia Tilts was paid by Boulsover and Thomas Broadbent.  Broadbent took the next lease in 1770 at £10 4s p.a. but went bankrupt in 1783.  That year Beeley, with two tilts, was let on a 63 year lease  for £15 p.a. to John Sutcliffe.  He sold the lease the next year for £1050 to Joseph Walker and William Booth who took a new 63 year lease in 1793 and are listed in 1794 with 2 tilts and a forge with a fall of water of 14ft 8in.  In 1814 the tilts were “remaining unsold” and more sales were unsuccessful in 1826 and 1827 – Norfolk keeping them and the tenancy being taken from 1826 by John Wilson and John Hawkesworth who were still tenant in 1870 though under a 63 year lease from 1842. By the 1830’s there were 8 water wheels, one to each of the 2 tilts and 2 to each of 2 forges which both had a wheel for bellows -  by 1895 the wheels were derelict. Wilson died in 1865 and the works were sold to his executors. By 1874 they held the “Beeley Wood Steel and Iron Works” which were occupied by John Rodgers who had been a sub tenant in 1870. The works were sold between 1889 and 1892, in the latter year they were owned by John Rodgers with Henry Birkinshaw as tenant. (from Crossley “Water Power on Sheffield Rivers”)

June 1852 Mr Carlisle bankrupt – he owned Beeley Wood quarry which had been worked for him by Clement Machin who had removed stone and tools and was ordered to return it all to Carlisle’s assignees.

August 1856 – Floods wash away two thirds of Wilson Hawkesworth and Co’s weir, also the foundations of their forge building. Their footbridge ended up at Lady’s Bridge.

August 1868 – A great fire consumed much of Beeley Wood, property of the Duke of Norfolk and the principal reserve for game in the vicinity. It was started by sparks from a railway engine running through the wood, Fire engines were sent from Sheffield and up to four acres were destroyed.

1869 – by this date a steam hammer was operating, and frightened horses who caused a death in a carriage accident.


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Old rider

As a child living in the Middlewood area we often walked up to the old Middlewood Tavern where there was a bridge across the river Don. After crossing the bridge a footpath circuited the Beeley Wood Forge to the road that ran up to the forge. The forge was in full production at the time with lots of bangs going off and it sounded like the hammers were steam driven. This would be about 65 years ago. Beeley woods was a noted sight for bluebells in the spring. The road from Wadsleey Bridge to the forge had a brewery and a soft drinks factory as well as other enterprises. unfortunately I can't remember all of them. A common saying at the time was that if you didn't know where some body was it was said "they must be in Beeley woods picking bluebells"

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