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Birtley, Gateshead

Durham Rd, Birtley, Chester-le-Street DH3 2QX

1820s

Iron Works

Demolished

Site now occupied by Komatsu.

Last Updated:

29 May 2020

Birtley Iron Works

Founded in 

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Current status is

The Birtley Iron Company was established in the 1820's and built 3 furnaces in Birtley in c.1827 for the smelting of local ironstone (and later, also from the Whitby Stone Company) using coal from Ouston Colliery, Urpeth Colliery and other local mines. Birtley Iron Company supplied some of the materials for the High Level Bridge between Newcastle and Gateshead, which opened in 1848. By the 1910's the company owned several local collieries; Bewicke Main (Lamesley), Blackhouse (Birtley), Mill Drift (Lamesley), Ouston, Ravensworth (Lamesley) and Urpeth. At that time the company was noted as specialising in cast-iron pipes and connections for gas, water, steam or compressed air, engineering castings. During the Second World War the company made armoured car bodies, field gun suspension, and Bailey Bridges. The company no longer exists, but the site of their works at Birtley was used the Caterpillar Company, and since 1987 by Komatsu UK. A statue of Edward Moseley Perkins, a long standing partner of the Birtley Iron Company, is stands in Birtley.

Retrieved from Co-Curate

Above we can see the Birtley Iron Works along the Durham Works in 1898. There is much contract between this point and the mid-century, as the Newcastle to Durham NER line can be seen to the west of the site. Lines also go under what is now the ECML to Ouston Colliery, which was owned by the iron works to provide fuel.

The area is increasingly urbanising at this point, with housing needed to keep up with the industrial boom at the time for the collieries and related industries like this one.

Birtley in 1921 was clearly becoming a major settlement at this point. The Railway is double track to cater for the increasing amount of goods and freight. Industry is lining the NER line due to its attractiveness of being a fast direct link south and north.

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Undated photograph of the exterior of Birtley Iron Works. The area seems a bit down-trodden and worn, perhaps being taken around the 60s and 70s when industry was generally declining around the area.

Retrieved from Carole Carr on Pinterest

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Aerial image of Birtley Iron Works in 1946, showing the (soon to be) British Railways line to Durham. The new terraces are being built to the north and the increasingly sprawling industrial sites built against the railways.

Retrieved from the Chronicle

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