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Thread: Fussell's Ironworks - Oct 09

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    Default Fussell's Ironworks - Oct 09


    A weekend in Somerset yielded this explore on a site that has been abandoned for a very long time indeed.



    The history stuff:

    In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Fussell family ran a highly successful iron works business at Mells in Somerset, producing edge tools such as scythes, sickles, spades, shovels and other agricultural implements. The Fussells were first mentioned in a parish register in 1644, but it wasn't until 1744 that the first iron works were established in Mells by James Fussell III.

    His two sons, Austin and James IV (1748–1832) continued and expanded the business at Mells while another son, John Fussell opened a second works at Nunney by 1766.
    The company continued to prosper and by the turn of the century the company was exporting their wares to Europe and America. In the early 19th century the Fussells were running six iron works. Three of these were along the Mells River between Mells and Great Elm. Another two were sited in Railford Bottom near Chantry, and one just north of Nunney.

    The company continued under the stewardship of the next generation of Fussells, James V, John III and Thomas, followed later by James VI who became the Vicar of Chantry in the late 19th century. By this time the iron making industry was in decline. A reliance on water power, coupled with the collapse of English agriculture in the 1870s forced the company to modernise and diversify their business but too little was done too late. In 1882, a new company was formed to take over the running of the business but by 1894 this too was bankrupt. The company was taken over by Isaac Nash and the business moved to Worcestershire.

    The remains of the six works can still be seen. Two have been restored as private residences, but the others lie in ruins, the most impressive of which are the Upper and Lower works near Mells.

    Mells – Lower Works is on the site of an earlier works run by James Naylor. Iron ore was not smelted on site but brought in as scrap or pig iron, although there is some evidence that steel was made on site. During the heyday over 250 people were employed here. An inventory of 1804 lists the following stock held at the works: 1700 dozen scythes, 500 dozen reap hooks, 80 tons of old iron, 25 tons of bar iron, 9 water wheels and forges, hammers and other machinery.

    Essentially, edge tools as made by the Fussells were sandwiches of shear steel in wrought iron fire welded in a tilt forge and then subjected to a variety of finishing processes.




    I liked the tree growing out through the window in this building.



    Presumably made on site.


    Lots of tunnels under the works for taking water to power wheels and turbines.


    Remains of the pipework that fed a turbine erected here to provide electrical power to a nearby house.




    Remains of a small waterwheel.




    Plateway rails still in situ!



    Ran out of time and daylight. Must get back one day for an in-depth look at the tunnels.
    Last edited by tarboat; 6th Oct 09 at 20:28.
    Forwards - in all directions!

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  3. #2
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    Great little find...........looking forward to seeing the tunnels
    Servus ad percunia

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    Very interesting site.

    There is a similar old iron works near me though it has been levelled and turned into a country park. All over the site are huge stones which were part of the building and dam system. There are also tunnels below the site. ;)

    The buildings on these pictures are very nice with the spiraling stairs etc. What a shame that such an important site has become derelict.

    Some interesting history and photos here - I look forward to your return. :)

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    Wonderfull what a find, I love the ferns growing on the wooden beam. I look forward to the return. :)
    May the shadow of Murphy never darken your door."
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    I've always loved this place, industrial decay nature and quietness combine to make a very rare site indeed.All around the area you can still find products made at the forge,mainly iron farm gateposts.Fussells also designed a boat lift for the Somerset and Dorset canal the pits of which can apparently still be found by the intrepid explorer near Great Elm near to Mells and were the subject of a recentish archaeological dig.Nice photos they brought back many memories.Thanks for posting.

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    Excellent find Tarboat, and some cracking pictures.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/45100355@N04/

    The revery alone will do, if bees are few.


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