Iron and Steel

INTRODUCTION Six-hundred years ago, at the time of the foundation of the Church, Corby was a village in the midst of the wide-spread Royal Forest of Rockingham. Indeed, so dense and wide-spread was the Forest, that the Church at Weldon (in-the-woods) has a Domed Tower where the lantern was a beacon for travellers. The modern town of Corby has sprung up since 1933 as a direct consequence of the decision by the Company to set up a large integrated Iron, Steel and Steel Tube Works at Corby. Tubes are manufactured from steel produced in the adjacent Iron and. Steel Works using iron extracted from vast local deposits amounting to some 5 hundred million tons of ironstone covering an area of 26 thousand acres, now called the Northampton Sand Ironstone Bed, and one of the biggest Iron fields in the world. There are still a few cottages of the Stuart Period remaining in the village, and there is scratched on the wall of the Church a sun-dial which told the villagers the time in the days before clocks. Weldon stone is used widely as a building material, improving with age to take on a fine reddish yellow colour, due principally to the action of the atmosphere on the Iron in the stone. Beautiful examples can be seen near at hand in Caldecott and Weldon, while many fine, and sometimes distant, buildings owe much of their architectural beauty to the adornment of Weldon stone, including Rochester Cathedral and Colleges at Oxford and Cambridge. Corby is mentioned in the Domesday Book as an Iron producing centre, while Brigstock, with its close associations with Saxon, Norman and Tudor times, is nearby. Royal Furnaces or Ferraria were in operation at Geddington from the time of Henry 11 to Henry Ill, and Gretton and Corby had Ferraria in Edward the Confessor's Reign. The district later rivalled the Sussex Weald as the country's chief Iron producing centre. Raw materials were close to hand - Ironstone, and wood from the Forest to make charcoal for the furnaces. Later, Parliament, concerned by the denuding of the forest and keenly interested in the conservation of oak for ships for trade and protection of our island, passed the Timber Law's forbidding the cutting of trees, and this brought the Iron Industry virtually to an end for nearly two-hundred years. With the coming of the railways between 1870 and 1880, the extent of the Ironstone deposits became for the first time clearly understood, for the deep cuttings laid bare the Ironstone beds. Since 1910 there has been a small Ironworks at Corby, but the developments resulting in the Corby Iron, Steel and Tube Works as they are today were planned as recently as 1930, when the World Depression had set in, and a period of increasingly difficult circumstances faced the Country. It was, therefore, not until the end of 1932 that a modified scheme received the necessary financial support. Corby, the village in a forest, has now side by side with it a New Town, the population has increased almost thirty-fold, and the Royal Forest of Rockingham only exists in isolated patches which still possess, however, many magnificent specimens of trees. The small part of the forest close to the Town Centre has been preserved to form a green belt within the new town boundaries Extract from a Stewarts and Lloyds publication.

How Iron was first made in Corby

How iron is produced

By Michael Mahon

This page was added by Michael Mahon on 16/12/2017.

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