Hayman, Richard (2004)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.
Wrought-iron manufacture in Shropshire is studied over three centuries, encompassing changes in technology arising from the use of vegetable and subsequently mineral fuel. It describes the charcoal-using forges of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, discussing their rural locations on tributaries of the River Severn, and their principal market in the Midland manufacturing district. Comparison with other ironworking districts establishes that the industry had a regional rather than a national base. Early processes using coal and coke are discussed, in particular the patent awarded to Thomas and George Cranage, two Shropshire workmen, in 1766, before the adoption of the puddling process in the late eighteenth century. The industry in the nineteenth century is discussed with reference to the market and workplace structure, examining their influence on the technology of iron production. In the light of this, it is argued that in the nineteenth century ironmaking retained a strong regional character, structured by particular historic and geographic circumstances, and that national trends offer a limited understanding of the industry in that period. The thesis also challenges conventional interpretations of technological change, whereby new technology replaces old, arguing for increasing technological diversity until the decline of ironmaking in the late nineteenth century.
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