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Titanic Steel Works 230m south west of Yew Tree Cottage

A Scheduled Monument in Coleford, Gloucestershire

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Latitude: 51.7772 / 51°46'37"N

Longitude: -2.5989 / 2°35'55"W

OS Eastings: 358777.892385

OS Northings: 208897.304672

OS Grid: SO587088

Mapcode National: GBR FQ.ZCYT

Mapcode Global: VH872.WLYF

Entry Name: Titanic Steel Works 230m south west of Yew Tree Cottage

Scheduled Date: 16 October 2002

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1020804

English Heritage Legacy ID: 28879

County: Gloucestershire

Civil Parish: Coleford

Traditional County: Gloucestershire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Gloucestershire


The monument includes the standing, earthwork and buried remains of a
steelworks lying within the Forest of Dean in an area well known for
industrial activity, particularly of the 19th century and earlier, including
iron, stone, coal and timber extraction. Dark Hill iron and brickworks lie
about 250m to the south east, and are the subject of a separate scheduling
(SM28878). Robert Forester Mushet inherited a share in the Dark Hill iron
works after the death, in June 1847, of his father David, who had founded the
works. In September 1847 Robert dissolved his partnership with his brother,
also David, in the Dark Hill furnace, and went into partnership with Thomas
Deykin Clare, a Birmingham merchant. They formed a new company called
`R Mushet & Co.' Forest Steel Works, with premises which lay `a few hundred
yards to the north west of Dark Hill', probably within the old Dark Hill
brickworks site, which is part of the Dark Hill scheduling. This small
experimental steel works pioneered processes that would later be used at the
Titanic Steel Works.

Perhaps because of the secrecy which surrounded the production of this new
type of steel, there is no description of the form or function of the
different buildings at Dark Hill. There is similarly no detailed record of the
processes involved at the Titanic works, however, a list of men involved in th
different processes in the small experimental Forest Steel Works is on record,
and will give an indication of the production areas of the Titanic works. The
site included `a crucible furnace of ten melting holes, and a pair of wooden
shelves or old fashioned tilt-hammers; the melting holes were square so as to
hold four crucibles or pots in each. The walls of the structure were formed of
local red grit stone.'. The men employed to carry out the work were listed as
a: `potmaker', to prepare, mould, and condition the clay crucibles; two
forgemen; a melter and head melter, the latter the most important man in the
crucible melting team; a handyman to help with the preparation and weighing of
materials for melting; and a general handyman to do odd jobs. Subsequently
Robert employed two Sheffield men as melters, and a blacksmith made hammers,
chisels and other tools. In 1856 Robert, with the aid of S H Blackwell of
Dudley, added to the steel works a cupola for melting pig iron, a small
Bessemer hearth or converter, and a blowing apparatus which worked the tilt
hammers. In his new process Mushet was able to remove oxygen from iron
produced by the Bessemer process using a material known as `spiegeleisen'
which was a triple compound of iron, manganese and carbon. It is thought that
the Titanic works followed a similar organisation and process.

In October 1862 The Titanic Steel and Iron Co Ltd was formed, promoted by
Mushet to provide capital for expansion. The works, described as large and
ornate, were built about 250m north west of the Dark Hill premises. The
buildings which constitute the steel works now survive as wall footings with
associated buried remains. There are also reported to be deposits of slag,
residues from the steel making process, in the area. An Ordnance Survey map
dating from the 19th century shows the works to have been aligned north
west-south east, covering an area about 150m by 80m, with the buildings in
four ranges enclosing a central yard. The gasometer shown on the plan of the
works was used for storing producer gas which was used in heating the steel.
By 1868 Mushet was producing self-hardening tool steel, known as R Mushet's
Special Steel, which was much in demand in the Sheffield area. The Special
Steel was made by alloying steel with the element tungsten. The resulting
alloy was an immediate success because of its hardness, toughness and
durability, and its unusual property of hardening itself wihout quenching or
rapid cooling in any way. All that was necessary was to heat the steel, forge
it to the shape required, and let it cool; it was then ground to a working
point, to sharpen it, and could be used at once. Raw materials for the steel
making process, including the iron base, continued to be produced at the
nearby `brickyard' part of the Dark Hill works.

By the late 19th century steel manufacture moved away from the carbon
steel field in favour of tungsten-alloy steels. These are more sophisticated
now than in Mushet's day, but are basically the same, and are still made
throughout Britain. The Titanic works were closed in 1871, and the company
voluntarily wound up in August 1874.

Thereafter the premises lay neglected. In 1908 the Office of Woods advertised
the property for lease, but there was no interest in taking up the lease at
that time. In 1926 the property was on lease to Lydney District Brickworks &
Collieries Ltd., who in 1928 sub-let to Milkwall Brickworks Ltd. The buildings
gradually deteriorated further. Photographs taken in 1935 and 1951 show some
of the buildings standing to full height. In 1964 the remnants of the
steelworks, having for many years been open to the elements, and used for many
purposes including a chicken run, were demolished by the Forestry Commission,
but the area was never planted. Wall footings are visible as low earthworks
with some standing fabric.

The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Iron has been produced in England from at least 500 BC. The iron industry,
spurred on by a succession of technological developments, has played a major
part in the history of the country, its production and overall importance
peaking with the Industrial Revolution. Iron ores occur in a variety of forms
across England, giving rise to several different extraction techniques,
including open casting, seam-based mining similar to coal mining, and
underground quarrying, and resulting in a range of different structures and
features at extraction sites. Ore was originally smelted into iron in small,
relatively low-temperature furnaces known as bloomeries. These were replaced
from the 16th century by blast furnaces which were larger and operated at a
higher temperature to produce molten metal for cast iron. Cast iron is
brittle, and to convert it into malleable wrought iron or steel it needs to be
remelted. This was originally conducted in an open hearth in a finery forge,
but technological developments, especially with steel production, gave rise to
more sophisticated types of furnaces. A comprehensive survey of the iron and
steel industry has been conducted to identify a sample of sites of national
importance that represent the industry's chronological range, technological
breadth and regional diversity.

Despite demolition of the standing buildings, the Titanic Steel Works survives
well as footings and associated buried features of an extensive steel
production site. The remains of buildings together with the associated buried
deposits will provide evidence of the development of steelworking technology
over a considerable period of time, and will give us insight into the
important changes to production discovered by Mushet. Slag deposits in the
area will provide further evidence of the changing technology over time.

The site is closely associated with the nearby Dark Hill iron and brick
works, both in terms of Robert Mushet's involvement and in the continued use
of the Dark Hill site in producing materials for use in the steel works. The
Titanic site is bordered by footpaths so that the situation and extent of the
works can be appreciated, providing an important educational resource.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Hart, C, The Industrial History of Dean, (1971), 169
Hart, C, The Industrial History of Dean, (1971), 168-9
Hart, C, The Industrial History of Dean, (1971), 170
Hart, C, The Industrial History of Dean, (1971), 168
Webb, K, Darkhill Iron Works Walk, (1999), 7
RCHME, NMR long list SO 50 NE 25/109452,

Source: Historic England

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