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Duddon Bridge Ironworks and associated leats and Duddon Bridge Bobbin Mill and associated leats 370m north west of Duddon Bridge

A Scheduled Monument in Millom Without, Cumbria

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Latitude: 54.284 / 54°17'2"N

Longitude: -3.2355 / 3°14'7"W

OS Eastings: 319664.1055

OS Northings: 488303.9647

OS Grid: SD196883

Mapcode National: GBR 5LVX.B1

Mapcode Global: WH71Q.8LK4

Entry Name: Duddon Bridge Ironworks and associated leats and Duddon Bridge Bobbin Mill and associated leats 370m north west of Duddon Bridge

Scheduled Date: 13 November 1963

Last Amended: 3 September 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021246

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35027

County: Cumbria

Civil Parish: Millom Without

Traditional County: Cumberland

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Cumbria

Church of England Parish: Thwaites St Anne

Church of England Diocese: Carlisle


The monument includes the earthworks and upstanding and buried remains of
Duddon Bridge Ironworks together with the earthworks and buried remains of an
adjacent bobbin mill. The ironworks are located about 370m north west of
Duddon Bridge on rising ground to the west of a minor road leading to Corney
Fell, while the remains of the bobbin mill are located nearby to the east
between the minor road and the River Duddon. The ironworks includes the blast
furnace and its adjacent buildings, an iron ore store, two charcoal stores,
a charcoal loading platform, a bridge, three slag heaps, a pitstead, a
head-race or leat, the wheelpit, and a tail-race along which used water was
channeled into the river. The remains of the bobbin mill include a building
platform, on which the mill and an associated structure stood, together with
the head-race, tail-race and buried remains of the wheelpit. The blast
furnace and charcoal barns are Listed Buildings Grade II* and II
Construction of Duddon Bridge Ironworks began in 1736 by Edward Hall and
Company (also known as the Cunsey Company). The furnace had a relatively long
life with production continuing until 1867. It was used to cast, smelt or
make pig iron, or any other sort of iron or cast metal. The fuel used was
charcoal, and iron of excellent quality was produced using the rich local
iron ore haematite. Initially the blast to the furnace was provided by
leather bellows, however, during the late 18th century these were replaced by
a system employing cast iron open-topped cylinders. These cylinder bellows
were driven by a water-wheel which was supplied by water from the River
Duddon which flowed along a head-race. During World War I the furnace complex
was stripped of its machinery and any ore that remained was also removed.
The exact date when the bobbin mill was built is unknown but a letter of 1889
to the town clerk of Barrow-in-Furness indicates that the mill had been in
operation for `upwards of 100 years'. It had latterly been concerned with
brushstock and handle production but ended its days towards the end of the
19th century as a sawmill. The water-powered charcoal-fired blast furnace is
a stone rubble construction located at SD19678830. The furnace stack is a
tower-like structure, square in plan, with sloping battered lower walls to
give solidity and resist distortion from heat. It has wide round-headed
openings in two adjacent walls, one the blowing arch the other the casting
arch. The furnace shaft within the stack has a square base which originally
contained the hearth and crucible into which the molten iron and slag settled
as the blast proceeded. The shaft above this area is lined with firebricks.
Attached to the west side of the furnace stack is a roofless two-storey
structure known as the bridge house, so named because it spanned from ground
level to a high level on the furnace stack. It contained stores on the ground
floor while the first floor was occupied by the charge house, whose sloping
timber floor led up to a door near the top of the furnace from where iron
ore, charcoal and flux required for the charge were cast into the furnace
mouth. Attached to the south side of this building is a roofless two storey
structure which functioned as an office and smithy. To the east of the
furnace stack are the lower courses of the blowing house within which were
located cylinders for providing the air blast for the furnace. These
cylinders were driven by a waterwheel attached to the north side of the
blowing house. Water to drive the wheel was taken from the River Duddon
about 650m north of the furnace and channeled along a leat flowing through
woodland and beneath the minor road. This arrangement superceded an earlier
waterwheel which was powered by water channeled along a short launder or
timber channel from the stream flowing downhill to the north of the charcoal
stores. This waterwheel powered a pair of bellows which supplied the air
blast to the furnace. The used water was then channeled along a tail-race and
beneath the minor road to join the tail-race flowing from the bobbin mill
back into the river.
To the south of the furnace stack are the lower courses of the casting house
where the molten iron was cast into a casting pit which ran parallel to the
building's west wall. In the angle between the casting house and the blowing
house are the remains of a square building which functioned as the worker's
tea room. Three slag heaps lie to the east of the furnace. The closest is an
oval mound approximately 2m high which also served as an access ramp to a
stone bridge across the tail-race. This bridge provided access to another
slag heap, now largely carted away, which lay between the end of the bridge
and the minor road. The third slag heap lies to the south of the modern car
park and consists of a 1m high finger-shaped mound of slag and firebrick
lining. To the south west of the furnace lies the iron ore store, not the
original one but an early 19th century rebuild which was re-roofed in the
1980's. Haematite from the mines at Lindal and Dalton was tipped from carts
into this building. To the north west lies the early charcoal store, used to
hold the large amounts of fuel demanded by the casting process. It was
subsequently heightened to increase capacity. Iron ore staining on the wall
to the right of the entrance shows evidence of a small lean-to store.
Attached to the western end of this building is a later charcoal store
originally constructed during the 18th century with a 19th century rebuild at
its southern end. Charcoal was loaded into this store from a platform at
the rear of the building via openings in the store's internally buttressed
west wall. A small store has been added to the east wall of this charcoal
store. At SD19608823, in woodland a short distance south west of these
buildings, there is an oval-shaped pitstead or charcoal burning platform up
to 11m wide which is thought to be contemporary with the iron furnace.
Adjacent to the pitstead are traces of a walled enclosure with remains of a
small outbuilding of uncertain function.
The site of part of the bobbin mill complex is represented by a platform of
spread stone rubble marking the location of the mill and an associated
dwellinghouse. The stone spread also appears to cover the site of the mill's
wheelpit. Water to power the mill was taken from the River Duddon about 200m
to the north and channeled along a leat which was augmented by additional
water from a short leat tapped off the iron furnace's head-race.
A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are all fences
and fenceposts, all gates and gateposts, all safety rails and posts, all
modern timber doors to the furnace stack and the iron ore store, all modern
metal grills protecting the windows of the iron ore store, a timber bridge in
the former charging house, an information board and its stone plinth, the
surface of the minor road leading to Corney Fell and the surfaces of the car
park and access tracks. The ground beneath all these features is, however,

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.

Bobbin mills were largely constructed during the 19th century originally
in response to the demand for wooden bobbins and reels for the growing
cotton trade predominantly based in Lancashire. Many of these mills were
founded in the valleys of south Lakeland where raw material for the
production of bobbins - water to power the machinery and wood for
coppicing - were availible in profusion. Such was the demand that corn
mills and even iron furnaces were converted to bobbin manufacture and at
the height of production in the late 19th century there were over 60 mills
in operation in Cumberland, Westmorland and north Lancashire. The mills
were originally water powered but steam engines, turbines, and latterly
electric motors became the chief sources of power to drive the machines
which sawed, bored, dried, sculptured and polished the bobbins and the
variety of other wooden objects such as handles, shafts, rollers, pulleys,
poles and dowels which were also manufactured. The main components of a
bobbin mill comprised ponds from which water was channeled to power the
waterwheel, a wheelpit, coppice barns where the wood was stored and dried
prior to use, sawing sheds, drying rooms, lathe sheds, engine rooms, a
blacksmith's room, and storage sheds where the finished components could
be housed prior to transportation away from the site. Since the mid-20th
century the virtual disappearance of the Lancashire textile industry and
the use of cheaper plastic in place of wood has reduced demand to the
extent that virtually all the bobbin mills have now closed.

Duddon Bridge Ironworks and the adjacent bobbin mill is a rare example of
the juxtaposition of both iron and bobbin production. The ironworks and
its associated features is considered to be the most complete surviving
example of an 18th century charcoal-fired blast furnace in England.
Additionally buried remains of part of the adjacent bobbin mill will
survive as does the surface remains of the mill's water management system.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Bowder, M (ed), Furness Iron, (2000), 50-8
Bowder, M (ed), Furness Iron, (2000), 22-3
Bowder, M (ed), Furness Iron, (2000)
Dunn, C, Duddon Bridge Ironworks, Cumbria. An Archaeological Field Survey, (1998), 4,11-12
Dunn, C, Duddon Bridge Ironworks, Cumbria. An Archaeological Field Survey, (1998), 1-21
Dunn, C, Duddon Bridge Ironworks, Cumbria. An Archaeological Field Survey, (1998), 5
Dunn, C, Duddon Bridge Ironworks, Cumbria. An Archaeological Field Survey, (1998), 1-21
Dunn, C, Duddon Bridge Ironworks, Cumbria. An Archaeological Field Survey, (1998), 4,11-12

Source: Historic England

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