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HER Number (PRN):03818
Name:The Calcutts Ironworks
Type of Record:Monument
Protected Status:Conservation Area: Severn Gorge Part A, B and C - within Shropshire Council Unitary

Monument Types

  • IRON WORKING SITE (Early 18th century to Early 20th century (pre-war) - 1700 AD to 1913 AD)


This site represents: an iron working site of 18th to 20th century date.

Parish:The Gorge, Telford and Wrekin
Map Sheet:SJ60SE
Grid Reference:SJ 6858 0307

Related records

00668Related to: Calcutts Coke Tar Ovens (Monument)
07228Related to: Madeleycourt Iron Works (Monument)

Associated Finds: None recorded

Associated Events

  • ESA3214 - 1984 salvage recording at Calcutts Ironworks by IGMT (Ref: JF84(ii))
  • ESA3215 - 1984-1985 trial excavation at Calcutts Ironworks, Jackfield by IGMT
  • ESA3216 - 1995 WB on building works, Station Bungalow, Jackfield by SCCAS
  • ESA5239 - 1985 WB on clearance of Calcutts Ironworks by IGMT (Ref: JF85A)
  • ESA5404 - 1983 surface collections at Calcutts Ironworks, Jackfield by IGMT (Ref: JF83/A-B)
  • ESA6304 - 2008 archaeological recording at Lloyds Head Mill, Ironbridge by Ironbridge Archaeology
  • ESA7102 - 2006? WB at Calcutts, Jackfield by Ironbridge Archaeology


Calcutts Ironworks were built in 1767. It became the most important cannon producing works in the country. Ten cannon at a time were capable of being bored in a boring mill powered by a steam engine. In 1811 the works included two large blast engines, a water pumping engine, three coal winding engines, a cannon boring mill powered by steam, a boring mill for cylinders, and a boring and turning mill worked by a water wheel. The works were in ruins by 1815. Production started again till it ceased in 1828. <1><2>

Trial excavation in advance of redevelopment was undertaken on this site in 1984 by D.A. Higgins of IGMT Archaeology Unit. A focus of industrial activity since the sixteenth century, Calcutts rose to fame following the establishment of an ironworksin 1767 specialising in the productionof cannons which were shipped for naval use at Bristol. At its height it had one of only three steam power cannon boring mills in the country, and had eleven horizontal boring bars. It was visited by the Prince of Orange during his tour of Shropshire and formed the focal point of a 96 acre estate which includedmines, blast furnaces, tar furnaces, engines, water wheels and a mill on the river. It had fallen into disrepair by 1815 and never again reached its eighteenth century prominance. ->

-> Excavation also established that substantial remains of the eighteenth century works survive over wide areas of the site. Parts of the cannon boring mill walls survive above ground level as the footings for later walls within which original floor levels survive. In one area a metallic deposit (iron) had formed as a continuous layer many centimetres thick with a slot (presumably from decayed timber) in it. Above this a later floor was bedded in tar, presumably from the associated tar works. Another area is made up of brickwork spaced in a sort of herringbone pattern with slots between all filled with casting sand. A second trench has located a deep brick structure with a vaulted roof which may be the covered bearings for a blast furnace water wheel. Various associated eighteenth century features and floors have been excavated. Large areas of the works seem to have been built on deep waste tips and earlier features associated with the nearby potteries. These have produced good samples of the fine earthenwares and white saltglazed stoneware produced in Jackfield in the mid eighteenth century. Later brass castings and a cupula from the sites use as part of the Marshall Osbourne engineering works have also been recorded, and site watching will continue as development takes place. <4>

Further excavation and a watching brief were carried out in 1985. Brick and stone foundations were recorded in section in the contractor's trenches, together with a partially collapsed vaulted brick structure similar to that excavated in 1984. Excavation uncovered waste dumps and saggars which predated the ironworks. <5>

In May 1995 a yellow sandstone wall bonded with ash mortar was exposed during building works at SJ 6857 0300. It was located 0.5m below ground level and lay on a NE/SW alignment. Approximately 5m of the wall was exposed. It was 0.5m wide and stood to a height of 1.75m. Surrounding material comprised industrial ash spoil on the east side and slag debris to the west. This unconsolidated debris is likely to be from the nearby Calcutts iron works to the NE and perhaps the clay workings to the south. The retaining wall was probably built to prevent unstable waste from spilling into the stream and hence causing it to flood the railway line. The wall appears to be present on the 1882 map but not on any later editions. The wall is similar in character to the present one to the north of the rail track. <7>

Boring Mill - Iron Blast Furnace - Iron Forge. <8>

Calcutt's Ironworks is shown in the background of an illustration by George Robertson, published 1788, showing the south bank of the river. The main 'subject' of the illustration are the ruins of Lloyd's Mill (PRN 31271). <10>

Brief notes on surface collection of pottery and kiln waste/furniture in 1983; excavation in 1984 and further collection of pottery and kiln waste/furniture/post-medieval building materials, plus a variety of metal-working waste and iron in 1985. <11><11a>


[00]SSA20723 - Card index: Shropshire County Council SMR. SMR Sheets Collection. SMR record sheets. SMR Sheet for PRN SA 03818.
[01]SSA1516 - Manuscript: Baugh G C (ed). 1998. Victoria County History 10 (draft).
[02]SSA1475 - Monograph: Trinder Barrie. 1973. The Industrial Revolution in Shropshire.
[03]SSA9058 - Article in serial: Clark K. 1985. Submissions from Ironbridge Gorge Museum Archaeological Unit. Shropshire News Sht. No 21. p4-6.
[04]SSA6219 - Volume: Anon. 1984. West Midlands Archaeology vol 27. West Midlands Archaeology. Vol 27. p65.
[05]SSA27349 - Volume: Various. 1985. West Midlands Archaeology vol 28. West Midlands Archaeology. Vol 28. p.45.
[06]SSA9057 - Correspondence: Various. 1984. Correspondence, 1984.
[07]SSA9059 - Watching brief report: Price G. 1995. Retaining Wall at Station Bungalow, Church Road, Jackfield, Telford.
[08]SSA21923 - Monograph: Trinder Barrie. 1996. The Industrial Archaeology of Shropshire. Appendix One.
[09]SSA24453 - Watching brief report: White S. 2006. Calcutts, Jackfield: watching brief. Ironbridge Archaeology Series. 177.
[10]SSA23329 - Field survey report: Wallis A. 2008. Archaeological Recording at Lloyds Head Mill, Ironbridge. Ironbridge Archaeology Series. 223.
[11a]SSA11400 - Volume: Trueman M (ed). 1986. Archaeology in Ironbridge 1985-86. 1985-86. p.55.
[11]SSA21222 - Volume: Trueman M (ed). 1988. Archaeology in Ironbridge 1981-85. 1981-85. p.109.
Date Last Edited:Apr 7 2016 5:33PM