150 years of the Shelton Works - page 4



Granville George Levison Gower
Granville George Levison Gower
2nd Earl Granville Marquis of Stafford
1815 - 1891


Early ironmakers used a production method brought from France. The initial smelt was in a primitive furnace of a type first seen in this country in 1496 - in Sussex. The second stage was refining to remove the carbon, and then the iron was hammered to remove slag (a waste product). The whole process was not very successful, and resulted in an impure end product.

The process required three main ingredients: iron ore, charcoal, and water.
Early ironmaking sites were always situated near water and woodland. Iron ore even in those early days had to be brought from countries like America, Russia and Sweden, this was transported inland by horse and cart and later by canal.
These furnaces produced iron in such small amounts and were so inefficient that the land was been deforested at a rate that alarmed many influential people. Because of this, Parliament introduced an Act in 1584 restricting the building of any additional furnaces in specific parts of the country.
Farmers were also spending a disproportionate amount of their time felling trees to supply the iron smelters, and this was in turn affecting the farming industry.

Parliament's concern continued to grow, and by the later part of the 16th Century a further act was introduced forbidding the use of anf sound timber for ironmaking which could be suitable for shipbuilding.