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February 27, 2014 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Apley Forge – a site of industrial archaeological significance

Wrens nest map 5586-13-80 03, early 19cApley Holiday Cottages are nestled in the heart of Gavin’s (Lord Hamilton) private Apley Estate, on the banks of the River Severn. We opened them in 2007, 2009 & 2012, but I never realised they were on a site of industrial archaeological significance. I invited the local history societies to the launch last week of the First Apley Archive Exhibition in The Creamery Café & we were delighted that Stephen Dewhirst from Broseley Local History Society came along. Just for the launch evening, I’d displayed some albums & sketchbooks from the Foster & Hamilton collections. Stephen spotted one of the sketches of the Horsehay Furnaces by Albert Way, possibly c. 1860 & said it thinks it is probably unique (which I blogged a few days ago).

In addition, he emailed me fascinating detail about the industrial heritage of the area surrounding our 3 holiday cottages. He’s kindly taking Gavin & I on a guided walk there soon to explain it in more detail. His email included this map from the Apley Collection in the Shropshire Archives. It’s of the area called Wren’s Nest, near the holiday cottages (by chance the home of 1 of the Apley Farm Shop members of staff) & shows the three forges as they would have been in the early 19th century.

He kindly also sent a copy of a 1639 map before the forges were built. He wrote: “There is a mill on the site of the Middle Forge on plot 27 (Little Wauke mill Leasow).  Wauke Mill is a name for a mill used for fulling woollen cloth as part of the finishing process. The name came about because the process was originally done by people ‘walking’ on the cloth, I suppose this was a little like treading grapes!  The Victoria County History has a good general history of Linley Parish and including the forges. See http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=22882 ”

I read that website for ages which contains astonishing historical detail. I’m just ashamed never to have been aware of all this before now !

By coincidence, at the same time, someone showed me a walker’s booklet on ‘The Severn Way – the longest riverside walk in Britain’. There’s a page on Apley including very similar detail: it says there were 2 forges operating, the woods were harvested for fuel for the forges & the remains of wharves on the riverbank are still evident (if you know what you’re looking for). I love the note saying Linley Station was a frequent winner in competitions for the best kept station – Mr Foster might have had an influence on that !

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