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snooz

Clay Wheel Forge

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For anybody interested in the Sheffield steel industry I was always told that the steel industry started there because of a ready supply of charcoal, iron ore, millstone grit and water power. In the 17 and 1800's it was the water power of all the Sheffield rivers that provided the energy to make it all happen. Back then most of the rivers around Sheffield were dammed and the water used to turn water wheels. An 1855 ordnance survey map of that time shows dams, weirs and water wheels throughout the area.

As far as I know, only the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, is the only one left and is a museum. I'm not sure if it actually works or is a static museum. However, my Dad worked at the water wheel driven forge at Clay Wheels Lane, almost opposite where Fletcher's bakery is - remember the Fletcher's fire? He worked there through the 1930's till it closed sometime in the 1950's but the actual forge was built around 1755.

At some time after it was built it was used to forge large guns for the navy and was owned by Thomas Firth and John Brown Ltd. Some time later the forge became the property of the Tyzack family who already had the tenancy of the Abbeydale works – see

http://www.tilthammer.com/bio/tyzac.html

When Tyzack’s took the interest in Clay Wheel forge they used it to produce scythes for the agricultural industry – similar to what they were doing at Abbeydale. Apparently many of the male members of my family were master scythe forge men.

Sometime in 1941 a film crew from Thomas Firth and John Brown Ltd. Came to film the Clay Wheel forge for posterity and I was lucky enough to obtain a 16 mm copy of it. I (rather crudely) made a VHS copy some 25 years ago by projecting it onto the dining room wall and shot it with a VHS camcorder. I have now posted it on You Tube at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqV3jtkQSe4

The film is interesting because it shows what Abbeydale Works might have been like when operating – although I believe Abbeydale was smaller than the Clay Wheel forge.

I apologize for the poor quality of the video – I do still have the 16mm. movie and if there is any interest I will have it professionally converted and re-post.

Also for anyone interested I have many high quality black and white photographs of the clay wheel forge from various sources.

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For anybody interested in the Sheffield steel industry I was always told that the steel industry started there because of a ready supply of charcoal, iron ore, millstone grit and water power. In the 17 and 1800's it was the water power of all the Sheffield rivers that provided the energy to make it all happen. Back then most of the rivers around Sheffield were dammed and the water used to turn water wheels. An 1855 ordnance survey map of that time shows dams, weirs and water wheels throughout the area.

As far as I know, only the Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, is the only one left and is a museum. I'm not sure if it actually works or is a static museum. However, my Dad worked at the water wheel driven forge at Clay Wheels Lane, almost opposite where Fletcher's bakery is - remember the Fletcher's fire? He worked there through the 1930's till it closed sometime in the 1950's but the actual forge was built around 1755.

At some time after it was built it was used to forge large guns for the navy and was owned by Thomas Firth and John Brown Ltd. Some time later the forge became the property of the Tyzack family who already had the tenancy of the Abbeydale works – see

http://www.tilthammer.com/bio/tyzac.html

When Tyzack’s took the interest in Clay Wheel forge they used it to produce scythes for the agricultural industry – similar to what they were doing at Abbeydale. Apparently many of the male members of my family were master scythe forge men.

Sometime in 1941 a film crew from Thomas Firth and John Brown Ltd. Came to film the Clay Wheel forge for posterity and I was lucky enough to obtain a 16 mm copy of it. I (rather crudely) made a VHS copy some 25 years ago by projecting it onto the dining room wall and shot it with a VHS camcorder. I have now posted it on You Tube at

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqV3jtkQSe4

The film is interesting because it shows what Abbeydale Works might have been like when operating – although I believe Abbeydale was smaller than the Clay Wheel forge.

I apologize for the poor quality of the video – I do still have the 16mm. movie and if there is any interest I will have it professionally converted and re-post.

Also for anyone interested I have many high quality black and white photographs of the clay wheel forge from various sources.

What a fantastic film snooz,

thanks for shareing ,

looking forward to seeing the photographs and the other old movie.

And welcome to the forum.

Steve.

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What a fantastic film snooz,

thanks for shareing ,

looking forward to seeing the photographs and the other old movie.

And welcome to the forum.

Steve.

Thank you Steve. This afternoon I posted another video on You Tube containing the photographs I have together with a 1855 Ordnance Survey map of Sheffield as well as a photo of the site today taken from Google earth. The video is a crude attempt at putting the Clay Wheel Forge site into geographic context with old photos showing the inside and outside of the forge in a clearer way than the original movie I posted. Incidentally the photographs do include my father and grandfather. I suppose I could also post the photos to this board if I can figure out how to do it and you think they may be of interest. The You Tube video is at:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2x-bnun67A

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Thank you Steve. This afternoon I posted another video on You Tube containing the photographs I have together with a 1855 Ordnance Survey map of Sheffield as well as a photo of the site today taken from Google earth. The video is a crude attempt at putting the Clay Wheel Forge site into geographic context with old photos showing the inside and outside of the forge in a clearer way than the original movie I posted. Incidentally the photographs do include my father and grandfather. I suppose I could also post the photos to this board if I can figure out how to do it and you think they may be of interest. The You Tube video is at:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2x-bnun67A

Snooz,welcome. Your post is definitely of interest. Brilliant old film.

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Welcome to the forum snooz. That video is an amazing record of a working water-driven tilt-hammer. Have you contacted the Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust ? ....I'm sure they would be very interested in the film.

It is certainly worth having it professionally digitised and perhaps adding a voice commentary to explain what's going on in the forge.

Thank you for sharing.

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For those interested, if I did this right, here are most of the photo's shown in my second You Tube video of Clay Wheels Forge.

While researching this project I came across the following link to a book called Norfolk Works by Tomas Firth and Son's Ltd. This book contains over a hundred high quality photographs of various locations throughout Sheffield of Thomas Firth's various work sites. It certainly gives a great idea of the sort of places these steel plants were like in the 1930's.

The book is excellent and is available as a free download at:-

http://www.archive.org/details/thosfirthsonslim00firtrich

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Some more photos of Clay Wheel Forge

& the Waterwheel,

on picturesheffield.

Great stuff - what is perhaps unclear - was the forge owned by Firth's ? The Picture Sheffield photos give that impression or did it just manufacture for them?

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Great stuff - what is perhaps unclear - was the forge owned by Firth's ? The Picture Sheffield photos give that impression or did it just manufacture for them?

According to this taken from the same source as 'snooz'

it looks like Firths owned the forge.

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Interesting stuff. Had a look around and absolutely nothing left apart from the goit to the dam. No sign of the bridge.

Drawing by William Lowe c 1850 

img004 clay whels forge.jpg

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Does anyone know the history of Niagara Forge which was on Clay Wheels Lane?

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22 hours ago, lysander said:

Does anyone know the history of Niagara Forge which was on Clay Wheels Lane?

Hope that the following helps:-

The Water Mills of Sheffield by W.T. Miller - 1947

'Below Clay Wheel is what we may call Niagara Weir, and from this weir runs a long goit which must be very old, older probably than most people realise, for this waterway served the ancient Shrewsbury Furnaces and Forges which were active in the period 1560 to 1600.

One hundred and fifty years ago, the WADSLEY BRIDGE PAPER MILL stood close to the present Niagara Works, but the goit was not widened out into a dam to serve this mill. It was known as Mr. Bonsor's Mill in 1778, and in 1841 and 1851, John Hoult is given as the paper maker at Wadsley Bridge.

Beyond the later date we can find no record of the paper mill, but one of the Fairbank plans dated 1836 shows two works in this vicinity named respectively as Sanderson's and Naylor and Co.'s Tilts.

Niagara Works would therefore seem to have been built rather less than one hundred years ago, and the goit was probably widened into a dam at the same time.

There was a tilt worked by two water wheels; the directory of 1854, gives Matthew Allcroft and Firth Bros. as tilters at Wadsley Bridge and possibly these were the first to use the new works. The latest tilters here, so we are told, were Stringer and Co.

About twenty-seven years ago, the last water wheel was removed when Messers. J. & W. Greaves converted the old tilt house into a wire mill driven by electricity.'

 

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