Newbridge blast furnace
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1002227
Date first listed: 18-Nov-1976
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
County: East Sussex
District: Wealden (District Authority)
National Grid Reference: TQ 45549 32469, TQ 45621 32511
Newbridge Forge and Furnace, 137m south of Moss Cottages
Reasons for Designation
Iron has been produced in England from at least 500 BC. The iron industry, spurred on by a succession of technological developments, has played a major part in the history of the country, its production and overall importance peaking with the Industrial Revolution. Iron ores occur in a variety of forms across England, giving rise to several different extraction techniques and structures. Ore was originally smelted into iron in small, relatively low-temperature furnaces known as bloomeries. These were replaced from the 16th century by blast furnaces, which were larger and operated at a higher temperature to produce molten metal for cast iron. Cast iron is brittle, and to convert it into malleable wrought iron or steel it needs to be remelted. This was originally conducted in an open hearth in a finery forge, but technological developments, especially with steel production, gave rise to more sophisticated types of furnaces.
Newbridge Forge and Furnace is a monument of significance as the first blast-furnace in Britain. The residues of tap-slag suggest that there is continuity on the site from earlier, medieval, bloomery production. As such, the site has a high potential for further archaeological investigation, which will enhance our understanding of the development of the iron industry.
This record was the subject of a minor enhancement on 18 June 2014. The record has been generated from an "old county number" (OCN) scheduling record. These are monuments that were not reviewed under the Monuments Protection Programme and are some of our oldest designation records.
The monument includes the earliest blast-furnace in Britain, accompanied by a water system, dam and pond, surviving as earthworks and below-ground archaeological remains. It is situated on the east side of a stream at the foot of a valley, south of Newbridge Mill in Ashdown Forest on the Weald. The recovery of tap-slag from the dam suggests that it was built on the site of an earlier, medieval, powered bloomery. The earthen dam is breached by Kidd’s Hill roadway but stands 2.4m to 3m high east of the road, and 3m to 3.7m high to the west. The west end forms a semi-circle, which is likely to have been designed to protect the iron working area of the furnace. There is a spillway at this end of the dam, as well as gaps for the wheel pits and corresponding tail-race ditches. A water channel runs north through the area of a dry pond bay to a later corn mill. The pond bay, which survives in traces, is about 150m in length with low banks. The remains of slag from the furnace, as well as forge cinder, are evident on the site.
Newbridge blast furnace was built on land owned by the Duchy of Lancaster in about 1496 to produce iron for the King's artillery on its Scottish campaign. In 1525, it was leased to Sir Thomas Boleyn. The last reference to iron working on the site is in 1603 and it is likely to have been abandoned shortly after this date.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: ES 399
Legacy System: RSM - OCN
Crossley, D. 1991. English Heritage Monuments Protection Programme. Industrial Monuments: The Iron and Steel Industries. Step 3 report. Version O (Site Assessment 64).
NMR TQ43SE6. PastScape 407058,
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing