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July 2003
Restoration - Newland Blast Furnace
The charcoal store at Newlands
The charcoal store at Newlands

As BBC TWO goes round the country with Restoration, BBC Radio Cumbria's action girl, Caz Graham, takes on the Restoration challenge in Cumbria - to find those forgotten or neglected places of historical importance.

audio Listen to Caz's article on the Newland blast furnace.
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Just outside Ulverston there's a sleepy group of buildings that look like the perfect quiet country retreat. All's peaceful today apart from the lazy drone of the nearby A590, but 200 years ago this was your original 24-7 community.

Newland, just to the east of the town, was an industrial hamlet with a blast furnace, a watermill and timber yards, bustling with business at all hours of the day and night. Horses and carts dragged in charcoal to feed the furnace, tradesmen came with provisions and the finished iron was carted off to Barrowhead, which later became Barrow in Furness to be shipped away.

Looking up the blast furnace to the charging hole.
Looking up the blast furnace to the charging hole.

The Newland Blast Furnace was built in 1747 and was one of eight charcoal powered furnaces in Cumbria.

It became the home of the Harrison Ainslie company, an important entrepreneurial business which eventually owned all of the iron furnaces in what became known as the Furness area. Newland was the industrial heart of the region.

It produced 28 tonnes of iron per week, and to do that it required 56 tonnes of charcoal each week, which meant a huge volume of timber. Seven or eight men worked there, tough, unrelenting hard graft until the last production run finished in 1893.

Since then the blast furnace has been slowly crumbling away. A giant beam collapsed, slates and firebricks have become loose and crashed to the ground and it was even used a tip for rubbish and old cars.

Some of the people involved in restoring the blast furnace
Some of the people involved in restoring the blast furnace

But the decay has stopped now thanks to a group of local people who want to see this slice of Cumbria's industrial history preserved for future generations. They first started work back in the late 1980s and since then they've formed the Newland Furnace Trust and have signed a 999 year lease with the site's owners giving them responsibility for ensuring that the building stays intact.

They've also just published a conservation plan looking to the furnace's future so hopefully this part of Cumbria's rich industrial heritage should never be forgotten.

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