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Aston Furnace Location

Rupert

master brummie
The link below shows the 1890 junction of Porchester and Kensington. Does anyone know for sure that the industrial buildings on this corner are not the remains of Aston Furnace. I know that British History On Line quote that the buildings were gone by 1889 according to the 6" map but is this the case. The survey for the 1890 map would have been done over many years before publication and the buildings may still have been represented here. I know that the furnace was 'blown out' before 1800 but the buildings were used for other things after that. I find Aston Furnace and it's two pools intrigueing and would like to plot its development with it's pools and Newcomen engine over these years. I think a reasonably accurate representation can result. I would be grateful for any info pertaining to this subject and believe that with a little intuition we can plot the run of this waterway from Hockley down to and including Aston Brook Mill.

https://www.british-history.ac.uk/m...heetid=10094&ox=0&oy=0&zm=1&czm=10&x=192&y=64
 

gingerjon

master brummie
Just a snippet from the Martidale story (Crocodile works Alma street)
This is a brief story of the crocodile works of Alma Street Aston. Horace Chavasse bought land in Alma Street Aston in 1860. It was a Greenfield site, with Hockley Brook flowing through it. Known to us as Aston Brook. It was the ideal place for building a factory. The City council had built a road across a year before and called it Alma Street after a famous battle of the Crimean war in 1854.
 

Rupert

master brummie
Thankyou both, I have read these. What I am proposing is that the buildings on the corner of Kensington and Porchester are in fact on the exact site of the original Aston furnace. The possibly newer building in the front being the later paper/wire mill and the more squared off building behind being the original furnace building with the Newcomen engine at the northern end. The original pool would have been above this on Denmark St about. It was a long widened leat effectively.
I think that the later factory in Alma Street would have been steam driven as the Watt engines were more efficient by then. Hockley Brook right there could not have driven anything in my opinion. At that point it would have merely been spent water with no potential energy and not much of it seemingly. Water power although parallel with steam would have been on it's way out.
The leat and pools above could have still driven a wheel though but there is no evidence of this at that time. Incidentally Porchester would have ended at the factory that I am referring to, at that time as does Furnace Lane.
Alma Street I am proposing, was a culdesac when the Crocodile Factory was innitially there. I believe that it would have ended at the bank of the second pool which would have ranged above it. Only after the pool was drained would it have been able to continue further north and the school allowed to be built.
So keep the info coming. Knock my assertions that this was the exact factory site down. Hydraulically the location seems to make sense.
 

Rupert

master brummie
John when it says Alma street was put in the year before, it would have crossed Hockley Brook. Hockley Brook however would have been below the tailrace from the furnace which would have been below the second pool. The tailrace could not feed back into the Hockley Brook at Porchester because the vertical elevation of the race would have been lower than the brook and brook water would have back flooded the bottom of the wheel. So the Race was taken further and crossed Newtown just west of the Potters Hill intersection, 'the fork'. Just prior to that the sluice water from the original pool would have met it after taking a more northerly route. Laterly there would have been a drop for this water from 2nd pool level if I am right. From there the run off would be away down to Aston Brook Mill to meet up with Hockley Brook again just below there. It seems to me that evidence of the existance of the second pool can be seen from the layout of the buildings on the 1890 survey and this evidence continues to the point just west of the Potters Hill/Newtown fork. Several of the old maps show the second pool and even approximate the shape. I want to make scale overlays of this area that can be used to overlay GE photos and 1890 survey together with an explanation. My starting point however is the factory at the corner of Kensington and Porchester.

The cyberlink below shows a picture of what I believe to be the old Aston Furnace looking west across Porchester and Furnace Lane. The paper mill building in front. To the left would be Hockley Brook and to the right the old pool behind. It appears to be winter and the building about to be overcome by a wave. I did not know what to make of this at first but I believe that this is a view from the spoil bank and some of the spoil hillocks in the foreground are obscuring the view. The lane and road are thus hidden. If you compare this with the 1890 survey it does not require a great leap of faith to think that it could be the same place. Kensington Road was not there at that time.

https://www.schoolsliaison.org.uk/astonhall/astonarea/astonfurnace.htm
 
W

Wendy

Guest
This is not a great photo but, it's Furnace Lane Aston about 1900.
(Replacement)
 

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Rupert

master brummie
Actually Moma that is a great picture, one of the best on the site. Will try to find exactly where that is on the 1890 map.
I think that is looking south about half way between Clifford and Gerrard. Looks scary hey.
 

Alf

Gone but not forgotten. R.I.P.
Great Moma & John I'm sure we used to play down that alley when we were kids.:)
 

Peter Walker

gone but not forgotten
On reflection I am inclined to think the original leet or mill race did in fact follow that line shown on the map which today means it would be flowing uphill, but that when it was filled in for development, the land was re-levelled, partly using spoil from the furnace, (although Hockley Abbey was supposed to have been built with some of it).
All quite mysterious and fascinating.
Plenty to think about.
Peter
 
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Rupert

master brummie
Yes, there are two threads pertaining. I was interested however, in establishing the buildings at Kensington and Porchester, on the 1890 survey, as the location of the original Aston Furnace. Maybe even a building or two. Water would not have had to run up-hill. The upper course would have been Sluice water from the original long pool which would have been located approx where Denmark St. would have been and you can see on the photos that, running directly across from there, would have been almost level. Slightly down hill if anything. In the old days elevated water was valuable so they kept the overflow up there also they would not have wanted the overflow to backflood the wheel. The tailrace would have run across from Kensington above Hockley Brook to meet up with the sluiced water at the bottom of Potters hill. Why not run the tailrace directly back into Hockley Brook? I think that it's surface elevation would have been below that of the Brook at that point and back-flooding of the wheel would have resulted. I suspect a not uncommon phenomena for mills on Midland streams. Leats were entirely made by 'men with spades'. They tapped into a stream and carried water at a much smaller slope over a distance so as to end up with a body of water that would be elevated above the natural stream further down. The constructors would have followed a route that would require the least amount of digging and banking on the side of a slope. It must have been tough sledding in the Midlands. So look for routes that were the easier to maintain elevation. Do not visualize free water runing down to it's lowest level. Tailraces were not an easy run-off either. I suspect that much digging had to be done on them mostly and being somewhat deep they were often fenced. Take a look at the old survey maps 'f' in itallic means fence. They often had to run a long way before they could re-enter the natural stream at a mutual level. If there is much interest in this I will post some drawings for comment.
 

gingerjon

master brummie
another map 1831/35

this shows the brook going into the Soho Works, also would that be Furnace lane? going upto Lozells lane and is that another pool or mill half way up the lane it shows a building of some kind
(SUBSTITUTE)
 

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Rupert

master brummie
First time on here for this map I think. It certainly shows that the furnace was at the junction of Kensington and Porchester and to the west of Furnace Lane. There is no sign of Alma Street and Hockley Brook does not turn the corner there. In fact the water system seems to be largely neglected, which may be because whatever was at the location was not using water power at this time. The leat does not seem to start at Soho hill and Hunters now. In fact it may be stagnant at this time, all of the water running down the Brook itself. You can see the Bridge across the Brook at Porchester. No sign of down stream pool at Furnace lane. Have to think about it a bit. Thanks John.

PS. I think the building up Furnace Lane would have been too high for this water source. Possibly a house/farm house maybe.
 

Bazaston

knowlegable brummie
This is not a great photo but, it's Furnace Lane Aston about 1900.
This view was much the same until I left the area in the 1960s,to the left of centre of this picture is our garage which was at the top of our garden.Furnace Lane ran from Lozells Rd to Porchester st,crossing Gerrard and Clifford sts,parallel to William St,the picture shows section halfway between Gerrard st in the foreground to Clifford st in the background.There is also a picture on the main site showing section between Clifford st and Porchester st.The lamp-post shown on the latter is just above the rear gate to Alma st J&I school.Incidently the tree that was in the top of our garden is still standing on the renamed Clifford walk,but now surrounded by the 1960s development.
I used to go onto the Ralp Martindale (Crocodile) site as child when it was being built.A friend of mine worked for a building company when they did some under pinning work on that site some years ago,apparently to stop the building sinking into the brook below.
The stuff you hold in your memory !






i
 

Big Gee

master brummie
Martindales make machetes for export to Third World countries, for sugar-cane harvesting and similar industries. Their trade-mark was a crocodile etched onto the blade of their machetes. My company still supplies them with felt bobs for polishing the blades, and I visited the old works on numerous occasions. I always made sure I wore something less than my best suit when visiting... Oddly enough I've never been to their new factory at Willenhall.

I can remember when I was a nipper travelling from Witton to Portland Road on the No 7 bus (I went to George Dixon Grammar School) and for years and years I wondered just what a factory called the Crocodile Works actually made. My dad thought they made 'crocodile clips', but how wrong was that?

Big Gee
 
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