Newland blast furnace, blacking mill, associated buildings and water management systems


Heritage Category:
Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:


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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Lakeland (District Authority)
Egton with Newland
South Lakeland (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
SD 29871 79829, SD 29879 79801, SD 29948 79698, SD 29978 79747

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, including open casting, seam-based mining similar to coal mining, and underground quarrying, and resulting in a range of different structures and features at extraction sites. 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. A comprehensive survey of the iron and steel industry has been conducted to identify a sample of sites of national importance that represent the industry's chronological range, technological breadth and regional diversity.

The blacking industry was predominantly a by-product of the iron industry and is generally concentrated around areas high in forge and foundary work, especially where there is a predominance of coppice woodland used for charcoal making. Blacking is a fine charcoal dust or powder used to coat the face of moulding sand when producing good quality metal castings, the powder giving a smooth finish to the casting and helping to release the casting after it had solidified. It was also used as a filter for clarifying domestic water in the days before piped supplies became common. Blacking was also applied to fire grates, boilers and kitchen ranges. Features associated with the blacking industry include drying stores, grinding mills within which grinding pans and edge grinders would be housed, water wheels for driving the grinders, and leats, dams and mill ponds for supplying the water power to drive the water wheels.

Newland blast furnace, the blacking mill and the buildings and water management systems associated with both the blast furnace and the blacking mill survive reasonably well and are a rare surviving example of the juxtaposition of iron and blacking industry production. In particular the importance of the blast furnace lies in part, in the preservation of the furnace, store, casting house, blowing house, bothy and charge house group of buildings. Additionally the charcoal drying house with its innovative cast iron roof support is considered to be one of the earliest attempts at fireproofing such a structure in Cumbria. Its survival is regarded as unique in the north of England.


The monument includes the upstanding and buried remains of Newland blast furnace, blacking mill, associated buildings and water management systems. It is located on either side of Newland Beck within and immediately north west of the hamlet of Newland and includes the blast furnace and some of its adjacent buildings; the leat and infilled water wheel pit associated with the blast furnace; the buried remains of part of the nearby charcoal barn complex together with an old trackway, loading platform, bridge abutment and retaining wall; the blacking mill and its adjacent associated buildings, and the leat that provided the waterpower for turning the water wheels at the blacking mill. The monument is divided into four separate areas of protection.

Newland Furnace was built in 1746-47 by Richard Ford and his associates in what came to be known as the Newland Company. It was used to cast, smelt or make pig iron, or any other sort of iron or cast metal including 3 to 32 pounder round shot which was produced for the Office of Ordnance at Woolwich. The fuel used was charcoal, and iron of excellent quality was produced using the rich local haematite iron ore. In 1783 a forge, now converted into a domestic dwelling, was added in order to convert cast or pig iron into wrought iron. In 1799 a rolling mill was constructed in order to roll metal to specific thicknesses, but by the mid-19th century this building had become a blacking mill where charcoal was ground and the finished product used to line the foundry moulds and to put a smooth finish on castings. During the early 19th century the Newland Company became Harrison, Ainsley and Company. In 1874 considerable improvements were made to the furnace which enabled coke and coal to become the fuel used in the manufacture of iron. A general depression in the iron trade led to the closure of Newland Furnace in 1891. During the remainder of that decade some fittings were removed to a furnace at nearby Backbarrow and further dismantling was undertaken at the time of World War I. The furnace building was used as part of a wheelwright and funeral director's business during the early 20th century while the blacking mill became a sawmill about the same time.

The water-powered charcoal-fired blast furnace is located at SD30007971 amongst a rubble-built, slate-roofed complex of associated buildings, now partly roofed and partly ruinous. The furnace stack is a substantial stone structure, square in plan, with battered walls. It has wide splayed openings in its west and south sides, the former being the blowing arch, the latter the casting arch. The shaft inside the furnace stack has a square stone rubble base within which was built the hearth and the crucible into which the melt settled as the charge in the shaft above was in blast. Above this the furnace shaft is lined with refractory bricks which had to be renewed as necessary after successive blasts. Attached to the west side of the furnace stack is a multi-phased three storey structure which combined within it the blowing house, where bellows to increase the air flow to the furnace were housed, a bothy for accommodating workmen, and the charging house from where charcoal and iron was carried to the top of the furnace. The charging house occupies the top floor; it was extended to the west during the 19th century over a head race or leat which fed Newland corn mill some 50m to the south. The bothy, which occupied the first floor, was entered by a door at the south end of the west wall; its floor has now been removed. The blowing house on the ground floor still retains a number of substantial stone blocks which were used as supports for the machinery of the bellows. On the south side of the furnace stack is the casting house where the molten iron was cast; it is now a roofless shell. The building has wide openings in its east wall, some of which are now blocked; these are thought to have assisted ventilation when molten iron was being run off. These openings also gave access to a storeroom which is shown on photographs of the site taken in the mid-1890s. The east and south walls of this storeroom have been demolished but the west wall adjacent to the east wall of the casting house survives as does the north wall which is incorporated in the south wall of a building that was added to the east side of the furnace stack. Situated on the northern side of the blowing house is the water wheel pit, now largely infilled. The water wheel powered the bellows machinery and the water came from Newland corn mill head race which was taken off Newland Beck some 80m to the north west. The water escaped through a channel on the north side of the wheel pit, however its course has not yet been traced. A short distance north west and uphill of the wheel pit stands the substantial multi-phased charcoal barn complex. The upstanding buildings are now used as a coal depot and are not included within the scheduling. However, the buried remains of a substantial part of the second charcoal barn, thought to have been demolished after closure of the furnace in 1891, are included. These buried remains lie beyond the south west corner of the surviving charcoal barn complex at SD29957970 and documentary sources indicate that the remains are approximately 31m long by 9m wide. An old trackway runs behind the site of the second charcoal barn and continues to a loading platform immediately behind the upstanding north-south oriented original charcoal barn. Adjacent is a loading bridge abutment; maps show a loading bridge running from a road behind and above the charcoal barns complex into the original charcoal barn. At its road end the bridge opened from a semi circular parking area with a stone revetment wall.

The blacking mill, thought to have originally been a rolling mill, is located at SD29897981. After ceasing to be a blacking mill it had become a saw mill by 1913, then a piggery. It is now roofless and is reduced to its stone rubble walls. The west wall near the beck has two blocked openings thought to relate to the support of water wheel axles. Water to power the wheels was stored in a large mill pond to the north and fed via a rock cut leat on the west of Newland Beck which led from the south west corner of the dam to a timber launder. This launder carried the water across the beck to the rolling mill water wheel at the north end of the mill's west wall. A photograph shows that latterly this wheel was replaced by one positioned at the southern end of the mill's west wall with the launder being subsequently extended along the west side of the mill. A short tail race, now infilled, led water from the water wheels back into the beck. In the blacking mill waste charcoal, also known as slack, from the iron furnace charcoal barns would be ground down to a fine powder by placing it within a circular iron pan and crushing it using a heavy rotating edge grinder. To the south of the blacking mill is a range of buildings of stone rubble construction with slate roofs. The northern end of the range, part of which has been rebuilt in brick, consists of two single storey rooms thought to latterly have been used as a cartshed and stable, while the southern end of the building is two storey. This range is thought to originally have been charcoal drying rooms, a storeroom and the manager's dwelling. Cast iron rather than timber was used to support the roof of this range, an innovative safety feature given the flammable nature of dried charcoal.

Newland blast furnace and its attached ancillary buildings including the casting house, blowing house, bothy and charge house is a Listed Building Grade II*.

The surfaces of all paths and access tracks, a telegraph pole, all modern walls, a low concrete platform immediately south of the upstanding charcoal barn complex, a flight of stone steps and its flanking walls on the south west side of the furnace complex, a timber footbridge across the leat north of the furnace complex, and a gate and gateposts at the south west corner of the charcoal barn complex are all excluded from the scheduling, although the ground beneath these features is included.

MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Books and journals
Bowder, M (ed), Furness Iron, (2000)
Bowder, M (ed), Furness Iron, (2000)
Bowder, M (ed), Furness Iron, (2000)
To Robinson,K.D. MPPA, Mike Davies-Shiel, Newland iron Furnace & blacking mill, (2001)
To Robinson,K.D. MPPA, Wignall, Johnathan , Newland iron Furnace & blacking mill, (2001)
To Robinson,K.D. MPPA, Davies-Shiel,M., Newland blacking mill, (2001)
To Robinson,K.D. MPPA, Wignall, J, Newland blacking mill, (2001)
To Robinson,K.D. MPPA, Davies-Shiel,M., Newland blacking mill, (2001)
To Robinson,K.D. MPPA, Wignall,J., Newland blacking mill, (2001)


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

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