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Remembering Harts Hill Ironworks

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: December 20, 2013

  • Hudson's of Dudley, pictured around twenty years ago from the air, occupying the site which was once home to Hingley's Harts Hill Ironworks

  • A rare old survivor, this is Bessie, one of the Harts Hill Iron Company's working boats. Keen-eyed viewers may well have spotted its appearance in the recent BBC drama Peaky Blinders, which was filmed in part at the Black Country Living Museum

  • This office building from the days of the Harts Hill Ironworks still survives today as part of Hudson's of Dudley's works

  • The canal which ran through the ironworks is still there, as is some of the original brickwork, seen on the left

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IN RECENT editions we've taken a good look at two of Noah Hingley's local ironworks, thanks to some rare aerial photographs, and this week we turn our attention to a third of old Noah's plants.

This time it's the turn of the Harts Hill Iron Company, known for years as Hingley & Smith's, which once occupied a large site just off the main Dudley to Stourbridge Road, on the Dudley side of Brierley Hill. Though long gone, there is still evidence of the old works if you know where to look, as some of the photographs reproduced here demonstrate.

Harts Hill Ironworks (formerly known as Harts Hill Iron Company Ltd) is believed to have been established in 1846 and was acquired by a Mr William Jeffries in 1859. However, Mr Jefferies was declared bankrupt in 1866 and the Ironworks was subsequently purchased by partners Messrs Samuel Hingley and William Robinson Smith.

Mr Hingley was in fact Samuel Hingley (1829-1901) son of Noah Hingley, founder of N. Hingley & Sons of Netherton. In later years Samuel's son, Harry Bertram Hingley (1872-1957) followed in his father's footsteps at Harts Hill; he was appointed manager under Sir George Benjamin Hingley (1850-1918) and Cyril E Lloyd, and in due course was appointed to the board of Directors in 1918.

In 1922 the Ironworks became one of the Hingley Group of companies. Harts Hill Ironworks were manufacturers of quality wrought irons i.e. Best Yorkshire, Crown Iron and Grades A & B including rolled angles, flats, rounds, tees and fencing channels. An aerial photograph circa 1910, held on file by the Dudley Archives and Local History Service, gives some indication as to the size of the works and its manufacturing capacity in terms of plant and equipment.

The relatively high number of smoking stacks and extensive building works shown in that picture suggests significant numbers of puddling-ball furnaces, reheat furnaces, forging hammers and rolling mills were in operation in the early 1900s. As the photograph indicates, the works was accessible by road, canal and rail, i.e. Canal Street, the Pensnett canal and the GWR Dudley to Stourbridge line.

The Pensnett canal, built in 1839- 40, was a privately owned 1.25 mile level canal stretching from the Dudley canals Nos 1 & 2, Parkhead junction to the Earl of Dudley's Round Oak Ironworks.

The canal also served several other ironworks including Harts Hill until it was closed in 1950. It is worthy of mention that one of the canal boats originally owned by Harts Hill Ironworks still exists today and is in the care of The Black Country Living Museum, Dudley. The boat, which carried coal, coke, pig iron and slag, is identified as No18 Bessie – Harts Hill Iron Co Ltd, a short haul, 30 ton capacity, riveted wrought iron, horse-drawn 'joey' boat built in 1895.

During the 1950s and '60s the demand for wrought iron and wrought iron products began to decline as steel and steel alloys became the materials of choice, and as a consequence Harts Hill Ironworks closed down in 1970.

Now, the former site of the ironworks is occupied by Hudsons of Dudley Limited; iron, steel & non-ferrous Merchants and Specialists in the handling and transportation of extremely large and heavy structures.

The founder of the company, Mr Maurice Hudson, who purchased the Ironworks site at Canal Street in 1974, has kindly given permission for the Bugle to reproduce the coloured photographs shown, which as the captions explain are of historical interest.

Do you have past associations with, or an interest in Hingley & Smith's Harts Hill Iron Company? If so, both Stuart and the Bugle would be interested to hear from you. You can call in at our office, write to us at Bugle House, give us a call on the usual number, or send an email to gjones@black countrybugle.co.uk.

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