29 February 2012

Stirchley Slag Works (I)

Just as we are finishing off some big commercial projects, and in the week before we head off to West Bromwich, we are going to be running a small conservation and recording project with volunteers in Telford Town Park.

This is a continuation of our previous work on the Stirchley ironworking complex established by the Botfield family in the 1820s. However for the first time we are going to explore the post-industrial landscape in a bit more detail. The map above shows the area in the 1920s, with the former furnaces site marked 'Wrekin Chemical Works'. To the south are numerous 'Slag Works'.

From the 1890s several companies acquired the rights to mine and crush the slag. This was used as roadstone and to make concrete. By the 1920s there were two companies here: Tarslag, who later became famous for their concrete lamp-posts; and the Bilston Slag Company, which later became absorbed into Tarmac, the well known civil engineering company.

The main focus of our work next week will be the recording of part of a slag crushing plant. The photograph below (kindly supplied by Malcolm Peel of the Dawley History Group) shows one of the Stirchley plants in use in the 1930s (we aren't sure which one).

As far as I know this is the first time that an archaeological investigation has ever taken place on a slag crushing plant! As well as clearing and recording the concrete engine house and crushing plant bases, we will be doing some survey work on the surrounding landscape. As ever, the work is generously supported by Telford and Wrekin Council, and would not be possible without our enthusiastic volunteers from the Wrekin Historical Group, the Dawley History Group, the Friends of Telford Town Park and elsewhere. More news will be added here soon; and I shall be speaking to the Wrekin Historical Group about the project at their regular St. George's meeting tomorrow evening.

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