Cleator Iron Works, C1794


Cleator Iron Works were located on the site of the former Kangol Factory. The works were abandoned and dismantled in 1799. The steel works operated there for approximately 100 years. It was the first furnace to have been built in Cumbria.
  • There was another furnace located on the site of old Mill House, below Ehen Hall.
  • Smelting was also attempted at Wath Brow, but failed. Slag can still be found on the banks of the River Ehen.
  • The Whitehaven Haematite Iron & Steel Co. established blast furnaces at Cleator Moor in 1842. 
In a letter from William Gilpin to Sir James Lowther, November 2nd, 1694, he alluded to:
Free and plentiful ore at Langaran, near Whitehaven, and that at Frizington, and the intended forge at Cleator, for smelting them with pit coal.
It is believed that the works belonged to a Mr Williamson of Cleator Hall and that the furnaces were adapted to convert bar iron into steel by a process called cementation. The Cleator Iron Works comprised six conical furnaces rising out of square bases.

The image of the Iron Works from 1794 was discovered upon a stall at Cleator Moor market at the turn of the 20th Century. A medley of prints were for sale. Among these was an Indian ink drawing representing a part of old Cleator, which was purchased, by the late Mr. John Polly, of Main Street, Cleator.

The drawing shows the present Hilden Road, now occupied by mill cottages, which was apparently the cart way to the furnaces, though the landowners claimed proprietorship over this road as late as 1872. The River Ehen is seen from the dam opening into the mill-race connected with Robertson's wheat-mill to Mill Street. The centre of the picture is occupied by the river above and below the weir. Above, it forms a huge still pool; and below, a swirling torrent, in which the river debris has formed two islands, large enough to support trees of a considerable size.

The houses attached to the furnace were built for the furnace men. The foot of Dent fell is included in the view, descending toward the river, and the Ennerdale hills are in evidence beyond.

The drawing bears this inscription:
Cleator Iron Works, 1794



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Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland: Cleator Iron Works, C1794
Cleator Iron Works, C1794
Cleator Moor | Cumbria: Little Ireland
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