Ancient Monuments

History on the Ground

This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.

Winlaton Mill ironworks, south east of Winlaton Mill village

A Scheduled Monument in Winlaton and High Spen, Gateshead

More Photos »
Approximate Location Map
Large Map »

If Google Street View is available, the image is from the best available vantage point looking, if possible, towards the location of the monument. Where it is not available, the satellite view is shown instead.


Latitude: 54.939 / 54°56'20"N

Longitude: -1.7119 / 1°42'42"W

OS Eastings: 418554.933322

OS Northings: 560513.691143

OS Grid: NZ185605

Mapcode National: GBR JCHB.5B

Mapcode Global: WHC3W.P401

Entry Name: Winlaton Mill ironworks, south east of Winlaton Mill village

Scheduled Date: 15 April 2004

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1021272

English Heritage Legacy ID: 35568

County: Gateshead

Electoral Ward/Division: Winlaton and High Spen

Traditional County: Durham

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Tyne and Wear

Church of England Parish: Winlaton

Church of England Diocese: Durham


The monument includes the extensive structural, earthwork and
stratigraphic remains of the Winlaton Mill ironworks and its associated
water supply and housing. It is situated alongside the River Derwent,
which provided an abundant power supply for the range of works at the
site. The sites of the earlier corn and fulling mills are also included.

Development at the ironworks commenced in 1691 when Ambrose Crowley II,
the leading supplier of ironwork to the Royal Navy, took over a
pre-existing corn and fulling mill. The mill works were rapidly expanded
into a major integrated ironworks, including a finery/chafery forge,
plating forge, slitting mill, cementation steel furnace, blade-grinding
mills, anvil shop, hardening shop and nailmakers' and filemakers'
workshops, together with warehouses, offices and housing. The main
water-powered mills and forges were located at the north east end of the
complex, with the nailmakers' workshops, warehouses and offices around two
squares to the west, and the housing along the base of the hillside to the
west and south of the squares.

The south west part of the site was occupied by successive leats to the
millponds, fed by a large multi-phase dam and weir on the River Derwent.
The river weir allowed water to be drawn off the river towards the dam
complex, where it could be routed according to needs. The dam complex is
known to have had at least three phases, with the latest of these
incorporating an early and unusual `horizontal arch' design with a curved
weir and spillway, the latter angled against the current and supplying
water to the southern millpond. A stone-lined leat 3.6m wide carried water
from the dam complex to the northern pool (Great Pool) that served the
ironworks. This leat had at least two phases of construction and
examination suggests that the silting deposits surviving at the base of
the leat will hold important archaeological and environmental evidence.
The larger millpond occupied much of the central part of the site, and the
smaller, square millpond to the south (located just south west of a modern
footbridge) served a blade mill on the site of the earlier corn and
fulling mills.

The ironworks saw only limited further development from the 1720s, and
began to run down after the 1780s, when the Crowley family involvement
ended. It finally closed in 1863. In the mid-20th century, much of the
site was progressively buried by waste from a nearby cokeworks. This was
removed under archaeological supervision in 1991-2, and the well-preserved
remains were reburied and the area landscaped.

The main visible features of the ironworks are therefore the remains of
the dam at the south west end, and ruins and earthworks of the workers'
housing along the west side. The remainder of the works site is landscaped
as a public park, but the below-ground structures and deposits of the
ironworks survive beneath this.

Winlaton Mill is exceptional for a number of reasons. The Crowleys were a
leading family of ironmasters from the Midlands, who acquired the Winlaton
site because of its potential for integrated works on a massive scale.
They brought with them much of the cumulative knowledge of the Midlands
ironmasters, but also supplemented this with their own innovative ideas on
iron manufacture. The works is also an important early example of the
factory system of production, with the site integrating iron making,
manufacturing, offices, storage and housing. The area of the monument
includes the entire complex, where archaeological work has confirmed the
presence of extensive stratigraphic and structural remains that can
provide a wealth of further detail about the site. The site also has
important documentary evidence surviving, particularly a map of 1718,
which records the layout and function of each of the structures at the
site. The works is also famous for the set of laws that Crowley
introduced, to cover the workers' daily lives and to ensure the smooth
running of production. The social welfare elements of this system were in
place at Winlaton some two centuries before such things were available

A number of features are excluded from the scheduling. These are: modern
fencing, electricity and telegraph poles, signboards, the abutment of the
`Butterfly Bridge' across the river, the abutment of the stone bridge at
the south east corner of the monument, the metalled surfaces of all tracks
and paths, the boulders along the north side of the pond at the southern
edge of the monument and a brick and breeze-block building to the west of
the trackway in the north west corner of the monument; however, the ground
beneath all these features is included.

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.

Winlaton Mill was a large integrated ironworks, forming a precursor of the
Industrial Revolution. Archaeological recording in the 1990s has
demonstrated good sub-surface preservation, and evidence relating to an
exceptional range of processes will be preserved.

The importance of the site is enhanced by the survival of very extensive
documentation. The dam also retains an important `horizontal-arch' weir.

Source: Historic England


Books and journals
Flinn, M W, Men of Iron: The Crowleys in the early Iron Industry, (1962)
Flinn, M W, Men of Iron: The Crowleys in the early Iron Industry, (1962), 219f
Smith, N, A History of Dams, (1972), 166-8
Ponsford, , 'Post Medieval Archaeology' in Post-Medieval Britain in 1991, , Vol. 26, (1921), 151
Cranstone, David , Winlaton Mill: Archaeological Investigations, 1991-2, 1992, Unpublished report to Gateshead MBC
Cranstone, David , Winlaton Mill: Archaeological Investigations, 1991-2, 1992, Unpublished report to Gateshead MBC
Tyne & Wear Archives Serv, DX 104/1, Anon, A Draft of Winlaton Mill and Swalwell, (1718)

Source: Historic England

Other nearby scheduled monuments is an independent online resource and is not associated with any government department. All government data published here is used under licence. Please do not contact for any queries related to any individual ancient or schedued monument, planning permission related to scheduled monuments or the scheduling process itself. is a Good Stuff website.