A semi-detached pair of workers’ houses built in the 1850s for Elsecar Ironworks, probably for managers or supervisors. In domestic use in 2020.
Reasons for Designation
Former supervisors’ housing at Elsecar Ironworks, 1850s, 2 and 4 Forge Lane are listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
* with its well-detailed stone-built front elevation contrasting with its more utilitarian brick-built rear which faced onto the ironworks, being part of William and George Dawes’s mid-Victorian modernisation of Elsecar Ironworks.
* with the other surviving roofed buildings and extensive archaeological remains of the scheduled Elsecar Ironworks, one of the best surviving C19 ironworks in England;
* as part of the complex of buildings which formed Elsecar Central Workshops, this remarkable survival of an early and influential centralised workshop facility which absorbed a number of ironworks buildings after the closure of the ironworks.
Elsecar Ironworks was established in 1795, but was extensively modernised and reordered by William and George Dawes who had taken over the works under a lease from Earl Fitzwilliam in 1849. Forge Lane Cottages were built in the 1850s as an early part of the redevelopment of the works, first being depicted on a plan dated 1859. Built next to the main entrance to the ironworks, it is thought that the two cottages were built for managers or supervisors at the works, although it is known that the Dawes brothers lived elsewhere. Following the closure of the ironworks, the cottages were absorbed as ancillary buildings into the Elsecar Central Workshops complex.
Ironworks, alongside collieries, were key drivers of Britain’s industrial development in the C19. Elsecar Ironworks, which is also designated as a Scheduled Monument, is one of the best surviving C19 ironworks nationally because a number of its buildings were absorbed into the Central Workshops complex and have thus survived. Most C19 ironworks in England have been either completely cleared or redeveloped. Elsecar Central Workshops was an early and pioneering industrial complex, prefiguring similar complexes built as the coal mining and other industries became more highly capitalised towards the end of the C19 and into the C20. Henry Hartop (1785-1865), the ironmaster who was employed by the fifth Earl Fitzwilliam, effectively adapted the concept of the model farm to service the industrial needs of the estate. Successive Earl Fitzwilliams, who were influential members within the first rank of society and the British Establishment, took pride in showing off their industrial concerns to visitors. Elsecar is thus thought to have been nationally, perhaps even internationally, influential.
Pair of cottages, 1850s, for the Dawes’ Elsecar Ironworks.
MATERIALS: well-dressed, coursed sandstone to the west elevation facing Forge Lane, mainly brick to the remaining elevations. Welsh slate roofs.
PLAN: single depth, central entrance plan with central stairs.
EXTERIOR: Forge Lane (west) elevation: this is an unequal pair of double-fronted, two-storey cottages with central entrances, the northern cottage (number 2) having a wider frontage with an additional window, this being above the front door. Windows have stone lintels and projecting sills, number 4 retaining two-over-two, horned sash windows. The front doors are six-panelled with over-lights, the northern being set-back in a round-arched opening, the southern being simpler with a plain stone lintel. A square, stone-built ridge stack is shared by the cottages, the southern cottage having a further brick stack, the northern a gable-end stack, both being brick.
Rear, east elevation: this has scattered fenestration, original openings having stone lintels. The ground floor is mainly taken up with various single-storey outbuildings and projections.
INTERIOR: Not inspected (information from other sources). The ground floor front windows retain shutters and panelled reveals. Beneath the southern cottage (number 4) is a large cellar with a jack-arched brick ceiling, the arches springing from iron plates or girders.
SUBSIDIARY ITEMS: the rear yards have stone setts and are enclosed by high boundary walls, some sections stone-built, others being brick. Single-storey outbuildings are generally brick-built, the northernmost one being mainly stone, but with a tall brick chimney.