Titanic Steel Works 230m south west of Yew Tree Cottage


Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1020804

Date first listed: 16-Oct-2002


Ordnance survey map of Titanic Steel Works 230m south west of Yew Tree Cottage
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Gloucestershire

District: Forest of Dean (District Authority)

Parish: Coleford

National Grid Reference: SO 58773 08900


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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.

Despite demolition of the standing buildings, the Titanic Steel Works survives well as footings and associated buried features of an extensive steel production site. The remains of buildings together with the associated buried deposits will provide evidence of the development of steelworking technology over a considerable period of time, and will give us insight into the important changes to production discovered by Mushet. Slag deposits in the area will provide further evidence of the changing technology over time.

The site is closely associated with the nearby Dark Hill iron and brick works, both in terms of Robert Mushet's involvement and in the continued use of the Dark Hill site in producing materials for use in the steel works. The Titanic site is bordered by footpaths so that the situation and extent of the works can be appreciated, providing an important educational resource.


Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.


The monument includes the standing, earthwork and buried remains of a steelworks lying within the Forest of Dean in an area well known for industrial activity, particularly of the 19th century and earlier, including iron, stone, coal and timber extraction. Dark Hill iron and brickworks lie about 250m to the south east, and are the subject of a separate scheduling (SM28878). Robert Forester Mushet inherited a share in the Dark Hill iron works after the death, in June 1847, of his father David, who had founded the works. In September 1847 Robert dissolved his partnership with his brother, also David, in the Dark Hill furnace, and went into partnership with Thomas Deykin Clare, a Birmingham merchant. They formed a new company called `R Mushet & Co.' Forest Steel Works, with premises which lay `a few hundred yards to the north west of Dark Hill', probably within the old Dark Hill brickworks site, which is part of the Dark Hill scheduling. This small experimental steel works pioneered processes that would later be used at the Titanic Steel Works.

Perhaps because of the secrecy which surrounded the production of this new type of steel, there is no description of the form or function of the different buildings at Dark Hill. There is similarly no detailed record of the processes involved at the Titanic works, however, a list of men involved in th different processes in the small experimental Forest Steel Works is on record, and will give an indication of the production areas of the Titanic works. The site included `a crucible furnace of ten melting holes, and a pair of wooden shelves or old fashioned tilt-hammers; the melting holes were square so as to hold four crucibles or pots in each. The walls of the structure were formed of local red grit stone.'. The men employed to carry out the work were listed as a: `potmaker', to prepare, mould, and condition the clay crucibles; two forgemen; a melter and head melter, the latter the most important man in the crucible melting team; a handyman to help with the preparation and weighing of materials for melting; and a general handyman to do odd jobs. Subsequently Robert employed two Sheffield men as melters, and a blacksmith made hammers, chisels and other tools. In 1856 Robert, with the aid of S H Blackwell of Dudley, added to the steel works a cupola for melting pig iron, a small Bessemer hearth or converter, and a blowing apparatus which worked the tilt hammers. In his new process Mushet was able to remove oxygen from iron produced by the Bessemer process using a material known as `spiegeleisen' which was a triple compound of iron, manganese and carbon. It is thought that the Titanic works followed a similar organisation and process.

In October 1862 The Titanic Steel and Iron Co Ltd was formed, promoted by Mushet to provide capital for expansion. The works, described as large and ornate, were built about 250m north west of the Dark Hill premises. The buildings which constitute the steel works now survive as wall footings with associated buried remains. There are also reported to be deposits of slag, residues from the steel making process, in the area. An Ordnance Survey map dating from the 19th century shows the works to have been aligned north west-south east, covering an area about 150m by 80m, with the buildings in four ranges enclosing a central yard. The gasometer shown on the plan of the works was used for storing producer gas which was used in heating the steel. By 1868 Mushet was producing self-hardening tool steel, known as R Mushet's Special Steel, which was much in demand in the Sheffield area. The Special Steel was made by alloying steel with the element tungsten. The resulting alloy was an immediate success because of its hardness, toughness and durability, and its unusual property of hardening itself wihout quenching or rapid cooling in any way. All that was necessary was to heat the steel, forge it to the shape required, and let it cool; it was then ground to a working point, to sharpen it, and could be used at once. Raw materials for the steel making process, including the iron base, continued to be produced at the nearby `brickyard' part of the Dark Hill works.

By the late 19th century steel manufacture moved away from the carbon steel field in favour of tungsten-alloy steels. These are more sophisticated now than in Mushet's day, but are basically the same, and are still made throughout Britain. The Titanic works were closed in 1871, and the company voluntarily wound up in August 1874.

Thereafter the premises lay neglected. In 1908 the Office of Woods advertised the property for lease, but there was no interest in taking up the lease at that time. In 1926 the property was on lease to Lydney District Brickworks & Collieries Ltd., who in 1928 sub-let to Milkwall Brickworks Ltd. The buildings gradually deteriorated further. Photographs taken in 1935 and 1951 show some of the buildings standing to full height. In 1964 the remnants of the steelworks, having for many years been open to the elements, and used for many purposes including a chicken run, were demolished by the Forestry Commission, but the area was never planted. Wall footings are visible as low earthworks with some standing fabric.

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: 28879

Legacy System: RSM


Books and journals
Hart, C, The Industrial History of Dean, (1971), 169
Hart, C, The Industrial History of Dean, (1971), 168-9
Hart, C, The Industrial History of Dean, (1971), 170
Hart, C, The Industrial History of Dean, (1971), 168
Webb, K, Darkhill Iron Works Walk, (1999), 7
RCHME, NMR long list SO 50 NE 25/109452,

End of official listing