Wortley Top Forge

Wortley Top Forge is an historic former finery forge and ironworks originally dating back to the seventeenth century, although evidence suggests iron working took place in the vicinity as early as the fourteenth century. It is situated in the metropolitan borough of Barnsley, in South Yorkshire, England, on a loop of the River Don near the village of Wortley.

The Top Forge was always closely related to Wortley Low Forge, a short distance downstream. One of the forges was probably built about 1639 (possibly both of them) and certainly existed by 1641, from which time the ironmasters at Wortley were Thomas Cotton, and his son William Cotton (1627–1674);[3] the latter being the father of Thomas Cotton. Cannonballs are said to have been made here during the English Civil War. After that the finery forges usually belonged to a network of ironmasters led by members of the Spencer family of Cannon Hall, Cawthorne, but not between 1676 and 1690, when they were rented by other ironmasters. The two forges were always leased together with a blast furnace, Nether Bank Furnace, until the latter's closure probably about 1780, all of them being rented from the Wortley family.

In 1744, the forge was let to John Cockshutt (died 1774), who ran it with a partner. He also had a 'tinmill'. He was followed by his son, another John, who was succeeded by his brother James about 1800. James had worked at Merthyr Tydfil as a partner of William Crawshay in the Cyfarthfa Ironworks and when he returned to Wortley in 1791 after the dissolution of their partnership, he introduced puddling to Wortley, the tinmill probably being altered to roll blooms into bars of iron. After James' death in 1820, the works passed to relatives and then through various hands, coming into the hands of Thomas Andrews in 1849. On his death in 1871 he was followed by his son another Thomas Andrews, who died in 1907.

One of the buildings at Top Forge includes a date stone for 1713. However, the current layout of the building dates from the 1850s when the forge was turned over to the production of shafts and axles mainly for use on railway wagons. Some of the earliest metallurgical experiments in the world were conducted at the site by the engineer and metallurgist Thomas Andrews. Railway axles of the highest quality were manufactured at the site in the nineteenth century and exported all over the world.

Production ceased around 1912, but parts of the site remained in use until 1929. One of the Top Forge hammers was run as a demonstration in 1933 or 1934. In 1955, the dream of C. R. Andrews (the son of the second Thomas) was fulfilled, the forge being reopened as an industrial museum by Sheffield Trades Historical Society (now South Yorkshire Industrial History Society). From the mid-1960s the Honorary Curator of the forge for over 40 years was Ken Hawley, who was the driving force behind a team of volunteer workers who preserved and restored the forge into its present condition – work that was recognised when he was appointed MBE in 1998.[4]

Of particular interest is that the site only ever used waterwheels to power the machinery. All three waterwheels have been restored to working order. Its buildings are used to house a variety of industrial machinery, including a Marshall twin-cylinder engine steam engine.

Wortley Top Forge
A large, low stone building
Wortley Top Forge
Wortley Top Forge is located in South Yorkshire
Wortley Top Forge
Location within South Yorkshire
General information
LocationWortley, South Yorkshire
CountryUnited Kingdom
Coordinates53°29′41″N 1°33′29″W / 53.494669°N 1.557946°WCoordinates: 53°29′41″N 1°33′29″W / 53.494669°N 1.557946°W
Designated30 July 1952[1]
Reference no.1018262
Listed Building – Grade I
Designated18 March 1968[2]
Reference no.1018262
Belly helve hammer, Wortley Top Forge - geograph.org.uk - 257521
Belly helve hammer, water-powered forging hammer

Heritage designations

The whole of the site is a Scheduled Monument[1] and the main forge is a Grade I listed building.[2] Top Forge Cottage, and two other cottages south of the forge, are listed separately at Grade II.[5][6]


  1. ^ a b Historic England. "Wortley Top Forge (1018262)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b Historic England. "Wortley Top Forge  (Grade I) (1315032)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  3. ^ Letter from the Corporation of Doncaster, 1674, enquiring into how much "iron had been delivered to their wharf during the preceding fourteen years by Mr Cotton of Watley Forge." [Doncaster Archives].
  4. ^ Barley, Simon (19 August 2014). "Ken Hawley obituary". the Guardian. Retrieved 8 September 2014.
  5. ^ Historic England. "Top Forge Cottage  (Grade II) (1233963)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 29 January 2019.
  6. ^ Historic England. "Two cottages adjoining and to south of Wortley Top Forge  (Grade II) (1151114)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 29 January 2019.

Further reading

  • C. R. Andrews, The story of Wortley Ironworks (1956).
  • R. A. Mott, 'The early history of Wortley Forges' Bull. Hist. Metall. Group 5 (1971) 63–70.

Barnsley () is a town in South Yorkshire, England, located halfway between Leeds and Sheffield. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the town centre lies on the west bank of the Dearne Valley. Barnsley is surrounded by several smaller settlements which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, of which Barnsley is the largest and its administrative centre. At the 2011 Census, Barnsley had a population of 91,297.Barnsley is a former industrial town centred on linen in its former years and coal mining, glassmaking and textiles. The industries declined in the 20th century. Barnsley's culture is rooted in its industrial heritage and it has a tradition of brass bands, originally created as social clubs by its mining communities. It is also home of the Barnsley chop.

The town is accessed from junctions 36, 37 and 38 of the M1 motorway and has a railway station on the Hallam and Penistone Lines. Barnsley F.C. is the local football club, which has competed in the second tier of British football for most of its history. Barnsley F.C. also won the FA Cup in 1912.

The town of Barnsley also has a Women's Football Club which is in the fourth tier of Women's Football. Barnsley Women's Football Club was formed in 1982 and finished 4th in the FA Women's National League Division 1 North in the 2018/19 Season.

Economy of Sheffield

In 2008, Sheffield ranked among the top 10 UK cities as a business location and aims to regenerate itself as a modern technology and sports based city. Sheffield has an international reputation for metallurgy and steel-making. It was this industry that established it as one of England's main industrial cities during the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. This industry used Sheffield's unique combination of local Iron, Coal and water power supplied by the local rivers. This fuelled a massive growth in the city's population that expanded from 60,995 in 1801 to a peak of 577,050 in 1951. However, due to increasing competition from imports, it has seen a decline in heavy engineering industries since the 1960s, which has forced the sector to streamline its operations and lay off the majority of the local employment. The steel industry now concentrates on more specialist steel-making and, despite appearances, currently produces more steel per year by value than at any other time in its history. The industry is now less noticeable as it has become highly automated and employs far fewer staff than in the past. However a small number of skilled industrial automation engineers still thrive in it. Today the economy is worth over £7 billion a year.The largest employers are now all public sector: the two universities, NHS, and national and local government employees. Private fee-paying international students are also a major source (£120m per year) of income to the local economy through the universities.

Engineering Heritage Awards

The Engineering Heritage Awards, formally known as the Engineering Heritage Hallmark Scheme, were established by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) in 1984 to identify and promote artefacts, locations, collections and landmarks of significant engineering importance.

Grade I listed buildings in South Yorkshire

There are 62 Grade I listed buildings in South Yorkshire, England. In the United Kingdom, the term listed building refers to a building or other structure officially designated as being of special architectural, historical or cultural significance; Grade I structures are those considered to be "buildings of exceptional interest". In England, the authority for listing under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 rests with Historic England, a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Green Moor

Green Moor is a small hamlet in South Yorkshire, England, in the parish of Hunshelf and close to Penistone and Oxspring. Green Moor used to be a stone quarry in the last century but has since become a predominantly commuter and retirement village. Green Moor is also the site of activity centre used by the Sheffield and District Boys' Brigade Battalion.

Ken Hawley

Ken Hawley MBE (born Kenneth Wybert Hawley, 29 June 1927 – 15 August 2014) was a British tool specialist and industrial historian: he was a tool retailer, collector of tools and authority on the history of Sheffield manufacturing trades. He amassed what is recognised as one of the most significant collections of its type in the world. The Hawley Collection is now housed at Kelham Island Museum in Sheffield, England.

List of museums in South Yorkshire

This list of museums in South Yorkshire, England contains museums which are defined for this context as institutions (including nonprofit organizations, government entities, and private businesses) that collect and care for objects of cultural, artistic, scientific, or historical interest and make their collections or related exhibits available for public viewing. Also included are non-profit art galleries and university art galleries. Museums that exist only in cyberspace (i.e., virtual museums) are not included.

To use the sortable table, click on the icons at the top of each column to sort that column in alphabetical order; click again for reverse alphabetical order.

Listed buildings in Sheffield S35

This is a list of listed buildings in the S35 district of Sheffield, in England. This includes the areas of Brightholmlee, Burncross, Chapeltown, Ecclesfield, Grenoside, High Green, Onesacre, Oughtibridge, Wharncliffe Side, Whitley and Worrall, plus part of Middlewood. It also includes an area of Barnsley around Green Moor, Thurgoland and Wortley.

For neighbouring areas, see listed buildings in S5, listed buildings in S6, listed buildings in S36, listed buildings in S61, listed buildings in S62, listed buildings in S74, and listed buildings in S75.

Railway electrification in Great Britain

Railway electrification in Great Britain began during the late 19th century. A range of voltages has been used, employing both overhead lines and conductor rails; the two most common systems are 25 kV AC using overhead lines and the 750 V DC third rail system used in southeast England and on Merseyrail. In 2006, 40%—3,062 miles (4,928 km) of the British rail network was electrified, and 60% of all rail journeys were by electric traction (both by locomotives and multiple units).According to Network Rail, 64% of the electrified network uses the 25 kV AC overhead system, and 36% uses the 660/750 V DC third-rail system.The electrified network is set to expand over coming years, as 25 kV electrification is extended to currently unelectrified lines, such as the Great Western Main Line, the Midland Main Line and lines in the North of England as part of the Northern Hub.

South Yorkshire

South Yorkshire is a metropolitan county in England. It is the southernmost county in the Yorkshire and the Humber region and had a population of 1.34 million in 2011. It has an area of 1,552 square kilometres (599 sq mi) and consists of four metropolitan boroughs, Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield. South Yorkshire was created on 1 April 1974 as a result of the Local Government Act 1972. Its largest settlement is Sheffield.

Lying on the east side of the Pennines, South Yorkshire is landlocked, and borders Derbyshire to the west and south-west, West Yorkshire to the north-west, North Yorkshire to the north, the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north-east, Lincolnshire to the east and Nottinghamshire to the south-east. The Sheffield Urban Area is the tenth most populous conurbation in the United Kingdom, and dominates the western half of South Yorkshire with over half of the county's population living within it. South Yorkshire lies within the Sheffield City Region with Barnsley also being within the Leeds City Region, reflecting its geographical position midway between Yorkshire's two largest cities.

South Yorkshire County Council was abolished in 1986 and its metropolitan boroughs are now effectively unitary authorities, although the metropolitan county continues to exist in law. As a ceremonial county, South Yorkshire has a Lord Lieutenant and a High Sheriff.

South Yorkshire was created from 32 local government districts of the West Riding of Yorkshire (the administrative county and four independent county boroughs), with small areas from Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

In the 2016 referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union, South Yorkshire voted 62% leave and 38% remain, making it one of the most heavily Leave areas in the country.

Thomas Andrews (metallurgist)

Thomas Andrews (30 June 1811 – 19 June 1871) was a British metallurgist of international renown.

In 1850 Andrews, Samuel Burrows and John Burrows, trading as Andrews, Burrows and Co. took over the works at Wortley. Andrews' experiments on metal fatigue and fracture at Wortley Top Forge led to the manufacture of railway axles of internationally reputed quality.

After his death in 1871 his son Thomas Andrews (1847–1907) took an active part in running the forges.

Thomas Cotton (dissenting minister)

Thomas Cotton (1653–1730) was a dissenting minister of London.


Thurgoland is a village and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley in South Yorkshire, England, on the A629 road. According to the 2001 census the parish had a population of 1,801, increasing to 1,969 at the 2011 Census.

West Bretton

West Bretton is a village and civil parish in the City of Wakefield in West Yorkshire, England. It lies 7 miles (11 km) from Wakefield, 8 miles (13 km) from Barnsley, 9 miles (14 km) from Dewsbury, and 11 miles (18 km) from Huddersfield, close to junction 38 of the M1 motorway. It has a population of 546, reducing to 459 at the 2011 Census.There is a school in the village, West Bretton Junior and Infant School, and a church, which is an Anglican-Methodist local ecumenical partnership.

Wortley, South Yorkshire

Wortley is a village and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England. At the 2001 census it had a population of 579, increasing to 626 at the 2011 Census. Wortley is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book as Wirtleie.

Wortley grew up as a settlement where the Sheffield to Halifax road crossed the Cheshire to Rotherham route. In 1250, a Sunday market was briefly established, but this was quickly suppressed by the monks who owned the right to hold markets in Barnsley. In 1307, the village finally received a Royal Charter to hold a weekly Thursday market and an annual three-day fair at Whitsun. The market and fair both soon ceased, and an eighteenth-century attempt to revive the fair was unsuccessful.The parish church of St. Leonard's dates back to the medieval period, being rebuilt during the 18th century.<

The village is famous for the Wortley Top Forge, which dates back to the time of the Industrial Revolution, but is most famous for the notorious highwayman Swift Nick (John Nevison, 1639 - 1684) who was born and raised there. It was really he (and not Dick Turpin) who made the infamous ride on horseback from London to York in order to establish an alibi for a robbery. Until 1987, Wortley was home to the Earl of Wharncliffe.

Wortley is home to Wortley Mens Club, the winner of the campaign for real ales (CAMRA) club of the year 2014 for the entire Yorkshire region and subsequent super regional winner for the North East, making it one of the best 4 Clubs in the UK. It has now been voted the best club in Britain by CAMRA for 2015 beating 28,000 other entrants. It hosts a variety of events including an annual charity beer festival held on or around 1 August every year to coincide with Yorkshire day.

Located in Wortley is Wortley Hall, a Grade II listed building since 1990. The parish contains the hamlet of Bromley.

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