Thomas Walmsley and Sons

Last updated
The Atlas Forge rolling mill Atlas Forge - - 404186.jpg
The Atlas Forge rolling mill

Thomas Walmsley and Sons was a company that manufactured wrought iron. It was founded in 1866 or 1869 by Thomas Walmsley at the Atlas Forge on a site bounded by Bridgeman Street and Fletcher Street in Bolton, then in Lancashire, England. The forge had at least 16 puddling furnaces and forging and rolling mills. [1]


In 1874 a Rastrick boiler at the forge exploded, causing six fatalities. [2]

Production lasted for more than 100 years until 1975 when it was the last plant in the United Kingdom to produce wrought iron. Much of the plant, the wrought iron rolling mill, the Rastrick boiler and the steam engine that powered it were preserved in working order by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust for its Blists Hill museum where it is used to demonstrate the process to visitors. [1] [3] A steam hammer supplied to the company by Nasmyth & Wilson of Patricroft is preserved outside Bolton University. [4]

Atlas Forge and the figure of Atlas, as steel stockholders in 1983 Atlas Forge, Bridgeman Street, Bolton - - 404170.jpg
Atlas Forge and the figure of Atlas, as steel stockholders in 1983

After 1975 the company became steel stockholders as 'Walmsley Steelstock' and closed in 1984.

Walmsley family

Thomas Walmsley was born in 1812 and became an iron agent and tinplate worker in 1845 in Oxford Street, Bolton. In 1869 he was an agent for the Grosmont pig iron and Bowling Iron Company from the Phoenix Ironworks in Crook Street. He had set up his own iron works by 1869. [1] He was Mayor of Bolton from 1869 to 1871. [5] He died in 1890 and the business passed to his son, Richard and subsequently to Richard's sons, Reginald and Ernest. [1]

Related Research Articles

Wrought iron Iron alloy with a very low carbon content

Wrought iron is an iron alloy with a very low carbon content in contrast to that of cast iron. It is a semi-fused mass of iron with fibrous slag inclusions, which gives it a "grain" resembling wood that is visible when it is etched or bent to the point of failure. Wrought iron is tough, malleable, ductile, corrosion resistant, and easily welded.

William Fairbairn

Sir William Fairbairn, 1st Baronet of Ardwick was a Scottish civil engineer, structural engineer and shipbuilder. In 1854 he succeeded George Stephenson and Robert Stephenson to become the third president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Coalbrookdale Human settlement in England

Coalbrookdale is a village in the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, England, containing a settlement of great significance in the history of iron ore smelting. It lies within the civil parish called the Gorge.

<i>Stourbridge Lion</i> Early American 0-4-0 locomotive built in Great Britain

The Stourbridge Lion was a railroad steam locomotive. It was the first to be operated in the United States, and one of the first locomotives to operate outside Britain. It takes its name from the lion's face painted on the front, and Stourbridge in England, where it was manufactured by the firm Foster, Rastrick and Company in 1829. The locomotive, obtained by the Delaware & Hudson Canal Company, was shipped to New York in May 1829, where it was tested raised on blocks. It was then taken to Honesdale, Pennsylvania for testing on the company's newly built track. The locomotive performed well in its first test in August 1829 but was found to be too heavy for the track and was never used for its intended purpose of hauling coal wagons. During the next few decades a number of parts were removed from the abandoned locomotive until only the boiler and a few other components remained. These were acquired by the Smithsonian Institution in 1890 and are currently on display at the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore.

Blists Hill Victorian Town Open-air museum in Telford

Blists Hill Victorian Town is an open-air museum built on a former industrial complex located in the Madeley area of Telford, Shropshire, England. The museum attempts to recreate the sights, sounds and smells of a Victorian Shropshire town in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is one of ten museums operated by the Ironbridge Gorge Museum Trust.

Astley Green Colliery Museum

The Astley Green Colliery Museum is a museum run by the Red Rose Steam Society in Astley near Tyldesley in Greater Manchester, England. Before becoming a museum, the site was a working colliery that produced coal from 1912 to 1970; it is now protected as a Scheduled Monument. The museum occupies a 15-acre (6 ha) site by the Bridgewater Canal which has the only surviving pit headgear and engine house on the Lancashire Coalfield.

James Foster was a prominent Worcestershire ironmaster, coalmaster and senior partner in the important iron company of John Bradley & Co, Stourbridge, which was founded by his elder half-brother but greatly enlarged under his direction. As well as the Stourbridge ironworks, the business owned a number of coal and ironstone mines, furnaces, forges and other works in the Black Country and near Ironbridge. The business continued long after James Foster's death, ultimately being incorporated as John Bradley (Stourbridge) Ltd in the early 20th century. In the late 19th century, the company was a member of the Marked Bar Association, whose members were the makers of the highest quality bar iron of the time. Foster was also a partner in other companies including the engineering firm Foster, Rastrick and Company, which built the first steam locomotive to run on rails in the USA. He was also a banker and landowner as well as being elected Member of Parliament and appointed as Improvement Commissioner for Stourbridge, and High Sheriff of Worcestershire.

Abraham Darby I

Abraham Darby, in his later life called Abraham Darby the Elder, now sometimes known for convenience as Abraham Darby I, was the first and best known of several men of that name. Born into an English Quaker family that played an important role in the Industrial Revolution, Darby developed a method of producing pig iron in a blast furnace fuelled by coke rather than charcoal. This was a major step forward in the production of iron as a raw material for the Industrial Revolution.

B. Hick and Sons, subsequently Hick, Hargreaves & Co, was a British engineering company based at the Soho Ironworks in Bolton, England. Benjamin Hick, a partner in Rothwell, Hick and Rothwell, later Rothwell, Hick & Co., set up the company in partnership with two of his sons, John (1815–1894) and Benjamin (1818–1845) in 1833.

Blowing engine

A blowing engine is a large stationary steam engine or internal combustion engine directly coupled to air pumping cylinders. They deliver a very large quantity of air at a pressure lower than an air compressor, but greater than a centrifugal fan.

John Musgrave & Sons

John Musgrave & Sons was a company that manufactured stationary steam engines. It was founded in 1839 by John Musgrave and his son, Joseph, at the Globe Ironworks, in Bolton, historically in Lancashire, England.

Ramsden's Shakerley Collieries was a coal mining company operating the Nelson and Wellington Pits from the mid 19th century in Shakerley, Tyldesley in the historic county of Lancashire, England.

W & J Galloway & Sons A British manufacturer

W & J Galloway and Sons was a British manufacturer of steam engines and boilers based in Manchester, England. The firm was established in 1835 as a partnership of two brothers, William and John Galloway. The partnership expanded to encompass their sons and in 1889 it was restructured as a limited liability company. It ceased trading in 1932.

Andrew Knowles and Sons was a coal mining company that operated on the Manchester Coalfield in and around Clifton near Pendlebury, in the historic county of Lancashire, England.

Astley Green Colliery

Astley Green Colliery was a coal mine in Astley, Greater Manchester, then in the historic county of Lancashire, England. It was the last colliery to be sunk in Astley. Sinking commenced in 1908 by the Pilkington Colliery Company, a subsidiary of the Clifton and Kersley Coal Company, at the southern edge of the Manchester Coalfield, working the Middle Coal Measures where they dipped under the Permian age rocks under Chat Moss. The colliery was north of the Bridgewater Canal. In 1929 it became part of Manchester Collieries, and in 1947 was nationalised and integrated into the National Coal Board. It closed in 1970, and is now Astley Green Colliery Museum.

Pendlebury Colliery, usually called Wheatsheaf Colliery after the adjacent public house, was a coal mine operating on the Manchester Coalfield after 1846 in Pendlebury near Manchester, then in the historic county of Lancashire, England.

Chanters Colliery was a coal mine which was part of the Fletcher, Burrows and Company's collieries at Hindsford in Atherton, Greater Manchester, then in the historic county of Lancashire, England.

Low Moor Ironworks

The Low Moor Ironworks was a wrought iron foundry established in 1791 in the village of Low Moor about 3 miles (4.8 km) south of Bradford in Yorkshire, England. The works were built to exploit the high-quality iron ore and low-sulphur coal found in the area. Low Moor made wrought iron products from 1801 until 1957 for export around the world. At one time it was the largest ironworks in Yorkshire, a major complex of mines, piles of coal and ore, kilns, blast furnaces, forges and slag heaps connected by railway lines. The surrounding countryside was littered with waste, and smoke from the furnaces and machinery blackened the sky. Today Low Moor is still industrial, but the pollution has been mostly eliminated.

John Bradley & Co was a company established in 1800 by John Bradley at Stourbridge in the West Midlands area of England. The company developed into a large industrial concern with furnaces, ironworks and mines. Under James Foster, John Bradley's half brother, it was instrumental in bringing the first commercial steam locomotive into the Midlands area in 1829. The firm stayed under family control until the early years of the 20th century when first the mining (1913) and then the ironworks (1919) were sold off. Part of the business continued to trade under the name John Bradley & Co. (Stourbridge) Ltd until after the Second World War.

NSR New L Class

The North Staffordshire Railway (NSR) New L Class was a class of 0-6-2T steam locomotive designed by John H. Adams, third son of William Adams. They were designed as a development as the previous L Class, adding a boiler common to the M Class and differed from the L Class with, amongst other things higher bunker sides and new cab roofs, and the abandonment of the cast safety valve cover. 28 were built between 1908 and 1923, with the final four constructed under the auspices of the newly formed LMS with the whole class withdrawn by the end of 1937. There is one survivor.



  1. 1 2 3 4 Townley (1995) , p. 56
  2. McEwen, Alan (2009). Historic Steam Boiler Explosions. Sledgehammer. pp. 8–11. ISBN   978-0-9532725-2-5.
  3. Highlights, Ironbridge Gorge Museums, retrieved 29 March 2012
  4. Heritage steam hammer moves home, Bolton University, retrieved 29 March 2012
  5. Thomas Walmsley, Bolton Council, retrieved 29 March 2012