25 November 2012

Stirchley Furnaces revisited (V)

As usual the work-rate of our volunteers is frightening - compare the photographs in this post with the ones on the first day! We have just finished another couple of days (our last for now) on the site, and as usual we have had to spend some extra time recording everything.

I am still not certain that the structure in Trench 5 is a refinery. There is no evidence for water cooling, and it seems unusually small for a refinery. It is also not clear what the running-out arrangements were. Whatever it is, it is an intriguing and important discovery from this increasingly marvellous site. The photograph below shows the full extent of it after cleaning.

The three hearths which we have excavated have survived differently, but together provide a very helpful picture of the process. We have been very lucky this time to be able to take samples which will be analysed over the coming months to confirm the provisional diagnosis. The photograph below shows the central hearth (No.2), as seen looking south from the running-out area.

Meanwhile, up at the embankment, further excavation revealed the complex mysteries of a large culvert, some brick walls and some other structures. The photograph below shows the quite magnificently crafted brickwork above the flue; the one below that shows the whole structure at the end of yesterday's mammoth effort - more sterling work by the marvellous volunteers in what was by this time quite heavy rain.


Compare this photograph with the 'before' photograph in the first post of this sequence to see just how much work has been achieved. In the same vein, somehow Malcolm and Nigel found time to go back up to the calcining oven and clear away the vegetation. This was the result...

...again, it is worth comparing the 'before' and 'after' views from Friday's post to show just how hard everyone has been working. In fact at some point I will compile 'before' and 'after' photographs of various elements of the whole Town Park project just to show how proud I am of all of our lovely volunteers, without whom none of these exciting discoveries would have been made.

So what next? Well, we do hope to return to the furnaces in 2013, and we are planning to undertake further work on other elements of this fascinating industrial landscape as well. Unfortunately our current round of Lottery funding has come to an end... however we are hoping to put together a bid for more money to continue our research, as well as undertaking the conservation of this and other sites.

Finally - and most importantly - regular readers of this blog (and indeed project participants) will have noted the absence of our most important volunteer. Moss has developed a liver infection and has had to go into a veterinary clinic for emergency treatment. She is fighting hard, and we all have our fingers crossed for her... many thanks to everyone around the world who have sent their best wishes to Moss. Despite her illness she found time to visit the site on Saturday morning in order to make an inspection.


1 comment:

paul dodds said...

Hiya I would like to get involve with any future work that's going on at the stirchley chemical site if there is anything planned? My email is Paulneedswork@yahoo.co.uk


accessibility aerial-cam aircraft Albany ALGAO antiquaries apley archaeology architecture art art nouveau Australia baltic Belgium beverley Birmingham black country Black Country Living Museum blast furnace blog borders Brexit broseley buildings cadw cambridgeshire canals cars castles charities chartership chief executive children chuches CIfA cinema coalbrookdale colonial community conferences conflict conservation contexts CPAT cracow crash cultural heritage culture cumbria cycling dark heritage dark tourism Darwin dawley devolution DGUF dialogue Dunsborough EAA earthworks england english heritage estonia EU Europe evolution excavation family family history fields fieldwalking food friends funding furnaces gardens geography geology geophysics Germany governance Habsburg heritage heritage management hertfordshire hinkshay historic environment historical metallurgy society history holiday hotel housing hull IfA india industrial heritage industry instability interdisciplinary iran iraq iron iron age iron rolling ironbridge ironworking jackfield jewish heritage Kakadu landscape landslide latvia lecture legislation linguistics Lithuania local history london manor house marylebone metallurgy middle east mill mining moat monograph moss museums national identity Netherlands Newcomen Nexus Northern Territory painting pakistan Perth planning poland politics of heritage post-colonial pottery preservation professionalism publication railways rambling religion report riga road rock art romania romans ruin salaries sandwell sardines scheduling schools scotland settlements severn shakespeare ships shropshire snow soviet stirchley stirchley furnaces stirchley ironworks stirchley slagworks stratigraphy survey Switzerland syria tallinn teaching telford tenements terrorism theatre timber-framed towns trains transport trustees turkey UK Vilnius volunteers wales west bromwich Western Australia wooden road wrexham wrexham and shropshire wroxeter yorkshire