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Bedlington Iron Works, Mounsey And Dixon

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Check out this site, a good history from the very start of the ironworks


a tale of Mounsey,s wife being torn to shreds by a machine shaft in front of her kids

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Yes John, were the trees planted by this lady.

No sorry to say.

Rose cottage next to the river was were the trees were planted and one was planted for each of their family.

Some became doctors with home tuting and one of the family lives in Nedderton today.

The "Seven Sisters" is what they were locally called, and said to be from Longridge, but it was widely off the mark.

Them trees was actually 8 in number, but one died off, leaving seven.

Will post the full story for weekend.

Hope this helps you Maggie

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Heres some interesting bits on the Ironworks


This gives a good insight into chidren working at the Bedlington Ironworks.

Hope you all find it usefull

May 12th. Michael Longrdge, Esq.

Proprietor of these works. The apprentices are bound to Mr. Longridge, and the man who

instructs them in the business has the benefit of their work, upon the payment of the wages stipulated in

the indenture, which generally begin at 4s. a-week with boys of 14 years of age rising 1s. generally, per

week each following year, until the 2 last years, when they increase 2s. per week. This scale applies to

the works in general. Younger boys, who work about the forges and mills, are the servants of the

proprietor, though paid by the men. The men are paid by the ton of iron wrought, the iron and coals

being delivered to them and they find the requisite labour and so pay the boys.

Proprietors find houses and fuel for the foremen and principal men, not for others. The terms

of payment for children are determined mostly by the custom of payment for particular work. The men

mostly prefer their own children in such cases, if the business be a good one; but proprietors would not

permit children under 10 years of age to be employed in these works. The men here are very superior

to the men at iron works in these parts. Perhaps with 60 men here Mr. Longridge would do as much

work as some other works would with 80 men, even though some of those 80 should he higher paid.

The men, perhaps 2 or 3, may throw on coals for half an hour on Sundays. Here the men repair their

furnaces on Sundays.

Nothing can be done by the masters for boys after they are actively engaged in the works in the

way of education. No certificate of education, as in the Factories Act, could be enforced in an iron

manufactory. Any compulsory enactments relating to education would be unnecessary, and not likely to

be beneficial.

James Davison.

Aged 11 last April. Has been in these works about 5 or 6 weeks. Draws the door of the

furnace. Comes at 6 o'clock a.m. to work; gets his breakfast about half-past 7 a.m.; his sister brings it

-coffee and bread-and-butter - as much as he can eat. Dinner is brought him by his sister or mother,

about 1 o'clock; it is generally meat of some kind and potatoes - quite enough. Gets tea after he goes

home, about 6 o'clock. Goes to bed about 8 or 9 o'clock, without having anything more. Is well

clothed; washes his face and neck, and breast every night when he goes home; does not change his

clothes before going home; no boys do that here. Works every day in the week; is paid 8d. a-day, i.e.,

4s. a-week. Father is a furnaceman. Is very healthy; never works over-time. Reads (fairly), writes his

name; goes to no school except on Sundays and goes to chapel (Primitive Methodist) on Sundays

twice. Was at Bedlington Iron Works School ever since he was 5 years old till he came here.

John Watson.

Aged nearly 14. Strikes to a chain-maker here. Has been here about 3 years; used to wok at

the planishing forge for a few days; then went to the old forge for about half a year, to trail the iron

away from the hammer when it had been beaten; then went to striking about a quarter of a year; then

went into the rolling-mills for about 2 years and lifted the iron on to the rolls with a hook and a chain;

then came to his present work with the chain-makers. Comes at 5 o'clock every morning; brings his

breakfast with him and eats it about half-past 8 to 9, stopping work for that half hour, and sitting down

upon the bench; breakfast is coffee (warmed upon the fire of the shop) and bread-and-butter. Dinner is

sent him, and brought by his sister at 10 minutes to 1; is about 10 15 minutes eating his dinner; gets an

hour allowed for dinner but walks about the yard the rest of the time. Dinner is meat and potatoes,

mostly every day; gets enough to eat. Gets tea between 4 and 5 after he goes tome, and afterwards

washes and goes to bed between 9 and 10. Father is a cartman at a flour mill. Gets well clothed; gets

warm clothing in winter. Never works over-time now; never works at night now. When he worked at

the forge, used to work in the day-shift one week and in the night-shift another. In the day-shift used to

work from 12 o'clock in the day till between 11 and 12 at night and in the night-shift from 12 at night

till. 11 and 12 in the day Got then 5s. and afterwards 7s. a-week. In the rolling-mills, the last year,

worked in the same shifts and for the same hours as in the forge. The first year in the rolling-mills

worked from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.; just once worked from 6 a.m. till 3 a.m. the next morning, that is 21

hours, without going home; this was when they were going to put the jigger up and did not work the

next day. In the rolling-mill got 7s. a-week wages. His present work is striking. Swinging the

hammer about and blowing the bellows makes him bad sometimes; it makes his back work and his

arms, mostly at first, till he got used to it. There are holidays - at the 2 days at Easter, 1 at Good Friday,

3 at Whitsuntide, 1 day at Christmas and 2 days New Year. Can read (fairly); goes only to Sunday

school and chapel sometimes, not very often; can write his name. Father is a waggon-man.

Thomas Winter.

Aged 16 next month. Has been here about 7 years. When he first came, at 9 years old, drew

the door for the furnace for 6 months; next trailed iron out at the forge for two and a half years; worked

then from 12 to 12, in (alternate) 3 days night-shift and 3 days day-shift; next went to the rolling-mill,

lifting the iron up. from 6 to 6, very often longer, if they were throng; sometimes till half-past 6 or 7;

never much later than 7 o'clock. Next went to strike to the jobbing smith, at mending the tools, for

about a year. Two years was striking at the engine-smith 5 (the locomotive factory); then came to the

forge about a year. Is now labouring in the yard in getting the iron ready for the furnaces. Now

labours from 6 till 6, sometimes till 7, and gets 11s. a-week for this. The longest hours he worked was

at the forge, generally from 4 in the morning till 6 and sometimes 7 at night, constantly. Was getting

coals in and assisting the hammer-man. Some of the little boys are put upon sometimes; thinks they

work too long hours. Can read (fairly); can write his name; goes to no school now; mostly goes to

church or chapel.

eremiah Davidson.

Aged 13 last April. Has been here about 2 years, at different jobs; is now at the rolling-mill and

has been there about a year and three quarters. Comes at a little before 6 a.m., and goes away at from 5

to 6, or sometimes 7 o'clock; not often. Gets 8d. a-day generally. Generally draws the door at the

furnace by a chain hanging down. Does this all day; the heat sometimes makes his head ache; not often

and makes hint sweat many times; drinks a good deal of water. A good bit since, he wrought till 12

o'clock at night, from 6 in the morning, only once to get some iron finished. Once or twice, a long time

since, he worked till 8 o'clock at night: last night he wrought till 7 o'clock, hooking up, or lifting the

iron out of the rolls. Is not paid more for working this extra time. Last year he worked at drawing the

door from 12 (mid-day) till 6 the next morning and got a day and a half pay for that, or 6d. extra.

Never was struck but once, 5 or 6 months since, when one of the men struck him over the legs with a

pair of tongs; never told anybody. About three times has been laid off parts of days from having his

head had from over-heat; the doctor gave him some stuff to throw up; was bad at times before he came

to work here; was never a very strong boy (looks rather delicate). Can read (fairly); writes his name;

went to school at the Iron Works School for 2 or 3 years before he came to work; has never been since.

Goes to Sunday school and to chapel afterwards.

Nicholas Prior.

Aged 12. Has been here 2 years; mostly at the forge. Comes there to work at 12 in the day and

gets done about 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning; mostly at 1 o'clock. Is wheeling coals for the furnaces

and sets away and stops the hammer when wanted, by stopping the water-wheel. Sometimes it is

hardish work, when he lifts the iron; and when he pulls the iron out of the furnaces, with hooks, it is

very hot but does not make his head ache. Has been off work 2 or 3 times from the work stopping but

never from ill health. Gets 6s. a-week, paid by the day, at the forge. Father is an engine-man. Reads

(fairly); can write his name. Goes to the (Ranters') Sunday school and chapel regularly. Went to the

school of the works here; was there about 2 years. Works in the night-shift every alternate week.

William Weight.

Aged 10. Has been working here about a year in the boiler-yard and about 2 days in the

rolling-mill; in the boiler-yard came to work at 6 o'clock a.m. and left at 6 at night, sometimes 8 and 9

o'clock, but not often; thinks he has worked about 9 times till 8 or 9 at night in the boiler-yard, from 6

in the morning; was obliged to stop; the foreman told him to stop. Sometimes he was sleepy then; was

running with rivets all the time, from the furnace to boilers; it was very hot work. The men did not

strike him at all. He had half an hour for his breakfast, an hour for his dinner and about 5 minutes for

his tea at 6 o'clock. Meals were brought him by his little brother; sometimes he was not very hungry

and sent some back and the pigs got it. Never had any resting-time, except at meals; was running about

the whole time; his legs were very tired when he was done work. Sometimes he came at 1 in the day

and gave over at 12 at night; sometimes he worked from 12 at night till 12 in the day; mostly every

other week in the night-shift; perhaps he worked 10 weeks in the night shift and 10 in the day-shift.

Used to get 10d. a-day each shift in the boiler-yard. In night-shift be felt often very sleepy; he had no

time to fall asleep. His meals were sent twice in the night-shift; got tea before he came. He left the

boiler-yard because they we going to get a bigger boy. His brother, about 14, was working with him

there, and help him when they were, working from 6 to 6; but they worked in separate shifts when the

shifts were on, that is, one at night and one at day. Reads (very well); writes his name goes to Sunday

school and to chapel (every Sunday); means to go to a night school in the winter. (Was not at work at

the time the returns were made.)

Alexander Watson.

Aged 13 and 3 months. Cuts the slabs (the plates) at the forge, by a slip of iron under the

hammer and of these plates they make boiler plates, after they are rolled at mill. Also wheels coal and

slag ashes, and ashes away. Comes to work at 12 at night goes away it 12, or sometimes after it, on the

next day. Has been working, every other week, in the night-shift for a year, mostly changing about a

little bit. At the forge once he worked 2 shifts of 12 hours each without going home. Is sometimes

sleepy and sickish in the shift. Sometimes the heat makes him very sick and 4 or 5 times he has thrown

up his food from off his stomach. Was sometimes, perhaps twice, laid off 2 or 3 days each time, when

he was working with Harry Hardy at the forge; the heat made him sweat sore and bad; did not have the

doctor but got. some physic-salts. Was working about a year at the forge, working night and day-shift

(alternately). Has been here in those works nearly a year and a half; was strong and healthy before he

came here. Reads (pretty well); writes his name; goes to no school at all now and to church only

sometimes. Was at the school of the works more than a year.

Matthew Davison.

Aged nearly 13, nearly 14 has been here about 2 years and a quarter, at intervals. Draws a door

in the forge; works from 11 a.m. and gives over about 12 at night. Every other week he works from 12

at night till 12 in the day; gets 8d. a shift for this. Has felt his head bad very nearly every day, thinks

the heat gives him this and makes his head feel light; feels every day nearly very tired and sleepy;

sometimes when sitting down to meals he has fallen asleep. Feels very sleepy in the night shift; gets a

little rest for half an hour when the coals are in and the heat is in when he sits down upon the sand. The

men hit them with their hands when they are not attentive; they do not hurt them much but so as to

make them cry. The day before yesterday James Davison a lad (the first witness, No.501.) threw a coal

at George Clark and hurt him rather bad. Was not a strong boy before he came to work, had the fever

and the measles before, and got himself burnt in a house at Kenton. Knows his letters only, cannot

write a, goes to no school now but goes to the chapel on Sundays now and then and to church; was

never at school many weeks.

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Yesterday was the official opening of the sculpture to commemorate the Iron Works. I went down the furnace bank, and up the hairpin bends, just to see:-

GLO - BED - RAIL, a sculpture erected in Bedlington Station to commemorate the Bedlington Engine and Ironworks, 1736-1867. Picture by Paul Appleby of Choppington.

The official launch of the new sculpture will take place at 11am on Sunday, June 16, when MP Ian Lavery will unveil the commemorative plaque.


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Went down there today, Eggy, with a friend. We also had a go on the exercise machines. It was peaceful as anything down there.


Edited by keith lockey

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I grew up playing down there as my friend Hilarys grandparents lived at woodside, I think playing around the ruins is what sparked my interest in history, but now when i go there i will think about those poor children who worked there, im so glad times have changed. Thank you John

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The factories known as the Bedlington Ironworks were, in part, situated

within this township. The undertaking originated with a lease for ninety-

nine years of premises in Bebside, taken in December, 1736, by William

Thomlinson, a Newcastle merchant.^ At this period the manufacture of

pig-iron in England had fallen to a very low ebb through the exhaustion

of the wood required for charcoal smelting and the failure of attempts to

utilise coal for this purpose.' A clause in the lease empowering the lessee

to cut timber in the Bebside woods seems to point to the probability of

the works having been designed for smelting the ironstone deposited in

the coal measures and cropping out in the banks of the adjoining river

Blyth. There is, however, no record to be obtained of any smelting

operations having been carried on at this period. The staple trade of

ironworks then consisted in the working up of scrap iron ; and for that

purpose forges were erected wherever the advantages afforded by cheap

fuel and water power in sufficient quantities to drive small hammers could

be obtained. These were both to be had at Bebside, and the works in

their early stages were chiefly employed in making forgings for general

purposes as well as for the Bedlington slitting mills.

Later in the centurv the works were carried on bv the Malings of

Sunderland, who worked ironstone on the north side of the river and

calcined it there, prior to smelting it in the Bedlington blast furnace, and

forging it at a forge near Bebside corn-mill on the southern bank of the

stream/ Their efforts were, however, attended by such poor results that

they were driven to abandon the smelting operations ; and the forges and

works on both sides of the river were acquired, about the year 1788, by

William Hawks and Thomas Longridge of Gateshead.

The new lessees extended the works and employed them in working

up scrap iron into rods and hoops and other ironwork,' and carried on the

business into the early years of the nineteenth century, during the period

when the rolling-mill was being introduced into the trade.'' In 1809^ the

works came into the hands of Messrs. Biddulph, Gordon and Company,

of London, and a period of development followed under the management

of Mr. Michael Longridge, who subsequently became one of the partners.

Rolled iron bars, sheets and hoops, together with anchors and chain-cables

for the navy, had hitherto been the chief products ; but, with the dawn of

the railway system, the business of the firm increased, and the fact that the

first successful rolled iron rails made were produced at these works, in

1820, must have added largely to their reputation.

The substitution of malleable for cast iron in the manufacture of rails

played a large part in the development of railways. So far back as 1818

Mr. Longridge had conceived the idea of connecting the works with a

neighbouring colliery by means of a railway laid with malleable iron rails.

He then ascertained that rails of this description had been tried at Wylam

colliery, as well as at Tindale Fell, in Cumberland, but with only partial

success. The rails used at these places were formed of bars one and a

half inches square and about three feet in length, having so narrow a surface

as to cause injury to the wheels ; while the increase in width, required

to overcome this difficulty, added so largely to the weight as to render

the cost prohibitive.' To Mr. John Birkinshaw, the principal agent at the

Bedlington works at the time, belongs the credit of having suggested the

idea of making the rails in a wedge form, so that the same extent of surface,

as in the case of the cast-iron rail, was provided for the wheel to travel on,

and the depth of the bar was increased without adding unnecessarily to

the weight." In accordance with the recommendation of Mr. John Buddie,

the well known colliery viewer, the rails were afterwards made with a swell

between the points of support. They thus resembled four or five of the

old 'fish-bellied' rails joined in one length. They were generally twelve

or fifteen feet in length and rested on bearings three feet apart.

The Stockton and Darlington Railway, opened in 1825, was the first

public line on which these rails were used.' Its example was followed by

the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, in 1830, both lines being under

the superintendence of Mr. George Stephenson as engineer. The rapid

development of the railway system no doubt created an extraordinary

demand for railway material, and, in consequence, the manufacture of loco-

motives was added to the general engineering business of the concern.

In 1829 the Company purchased that portion of the Purvis and Errington

estate in Cowpen township which lay nearest to the river,* and erected

upon part of it, in 1837, a locomotive factory, where locomotives of a high

class were constructed.

Towards the middle of the century the business, which was then carried

on under the style of Longridge and Company, or the Bedlington Iron Company, had become one of considerable importance and repute through the excellence of its manufactures. About 1840 the Longridges secured

a lease of coal in the vicinity from Lord Barrington/ and established a

winning, known as Barrington colliery, which was connected by railway

with the works, and carried on partly in conjunction with them and partly

as a 'sea-sale' colliery. Soon afterwards they embarked in the manu-

facture of pig-iron, and erected two furnaces on the north side of the

river, using, as raw material, a mixture of the local coal-measure ironstone

obtained from a mine at Netherton, and stone which was at that date

being gathered from the debris on the shore of the Cleveland coast and

used, under the name of ' Whitby stone,' by the few furnaces then at work on the north-east coast."

By about 1850 the works had reached their fullest capacity, being

equipped with blast and puddling furnaces, rolling-mills, and boiler,

engineering and locomotive shops, which employed a large number of


Their prosperity did not, however, continue. Keen competition in

the locomotive trade and excessive cost of transit both to and from the

works appear to have brought the firm into difficulties which resulted in

its failure in 1853. There being then no public railway in connexion with

the works, the locomotives, heavy forgings, boiler plates, and other goods

had to be conveyed on rolleys drawn by horses to Newcastle, a distance

of twelve miles, and there delivered, shipped, or placed on the railway to

be forwarded to their destination.'

Prior to this date the works had been assigned to Mr. James Spence,''

and by him they were carried on up to 1855, when they were closed for

some time.' In 1861 operations were resumed by Messrs. Jasper Capper

Mounsey and John Di.xon,^ who, although they appear to have conducted

affairs with energy, met with no better success and failed in 1865.^ The

business was then transferred to a company known as the Bedlington Iron

Company, Limited, and continued until 1S67,* when the works were finally

abandoned. Barrington colliery was purchased in 1858 by the owners of

Bedlington colliery,' by whom it has since been worked ; the connecting

railway was acquired by the Blyth and Tyne Railway Company,** while

the property belonging to the company in Cowpen township was bought

by Mr. Robert Stanley Mansel, owner of the adjoining estate of Bebside.

A considerable number of cottages remain at the Bank-head, but the fur-

naces and buildings of the works have long since fallen into decay.

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In a topic lately someone was asking if theree was a mill at the Ironworks.

Here is reference to it.

A water- mill erected by Robert Delaval on the south bank of the Blyth formed the

subject of a decree made in the Durham Court of Chancery in 1637. It stood on ground afterwards occupied by the Bedlington ironworks, near

the existing bridge. In order to obtain a constant supply of water for his mill, Delaval constructed a dam across the stream, after obtaining leave

from the lessee of Bedlington mill (which stood a little higher up the river and on the opposite bank) to place the farther end of his dam upon the

north bank. The Bedlington lessee stipulated that he should be allowed to destroy the dam if he experienced inconvenience from it, and, upon

discovering that it set up a backwater and so interfered with the" working

of his own mill, he claimed and obtained fulfilment of the contract

Edited by johndawsonjune1955

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