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British Industrial History

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Holwell Iron Co

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of Ashfordby, near Melton Mowbray

Construction of the company's blast furnace was started in 1878, following the (re)discovery in 1874 of iron stone in the villages of Holwell and Ab Kettleby by Richard Dalgliesh, who founded the company in 1874.[1].

c.1884 'The rediscovery of the Leicestershire ironstone in modern times appears to have been made by Mr. I. A. Knipe, who also constructed a geological map of the Belvoir district where the ore occurs, and brought it to the notice of the Duke of Rutland. This was prior to 1855, in which year a trial of the marlstone from Croxton was made at the furnaces of the Clay Cross Company. At that period, however, there were no means of getting the stone away, and it was mainly on that account, I believe, that no further steps were then taken in the matter. To Mr. R. Dalgliesh, manager of the Holwell Iron Company, and Mr. H. A. Allport belongs the credit of having been the first to actually commence the working of the Leicestershire Marlstone for iron, and thus to give the ore a commercial value. Mr. Dalgliesh while employed on the parliamentary survey of the Nottingham and Melton line for the Midland Railway Company, was struck by the redness of the ground in the neighbourhood of Holwell, and concluded that there was iron there. In the year 1878 Messrs. Dalgliesh and Allport examined the district. Samples of the Holwell ironstone were procured and sent to Mr. E. Riley, F.C.S., of London, to be analysed, and that gentleman gave a very favourable report of the stone. A large sample of the ore was in the following year sent to Staveley to be smelted. The result proved the correctness of Mr. Riley's opinions, the stone turning out easy to smelt, and the pig-iron produced from it being of good quality. In 1875 a company was formed and a lease of the ironstone obtained. In the following year a mineral branch line was constructed from Holwell to the Midland Nottingham and Melton line near Asfordby, and the district was thus opened out, and the ironstone got into the market. At first the Holwell Company sent the whole of their ore to the Staveley Company and other large iron smelting firms in Derbyshire and elsewhere. In 1881 they erected a couple of furnaces at Asfordby, near Melton Mowbray, and since that year they have smelted the bulk of the ironstone they have got in the district at their own works. At the present time they have a third furnace ready to put into blast. These, it should be mentioned, are the only furnaces in the Leicestershire ironstone field, and at Asfordby the manufacture of iron is carried on with due regard to the most approved scientific methods.'[2]

1900 The company was registered on 24 December, for the purpose of reorganising the capital account and extending the works of a company of a similar title. [3]

1914 Smelters and manufacturers. Ironstone mines, pig iron smelters, manufacturers of cast iron gas and water mains and specials; tubbing plates, columns etc. [4]

By 1920 was part of the Stanton company

The ironworks was still operating in the 1950s.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 'The Melton Mowbray Album' by Trevor Hickman, Sutton Publishing, 1997
  2. [1] The Midland naturalist : journal of the Midland Union of Natural History Societies with which is incorporated the entire transactions of the Birmingham Natural History and Microscopical Society,
  3. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  4. 1914 Whitakers Red Book