Join Date: Sep 2017
Location: Tyneside. North-East England
iron in the Derwent Valley
During my research into the SB Swordmakers, I inevitably came across talk of the iron and steel industry in the Derwent Valley, ultimately culminating in, first Sir Ambrose Crowley's works, then, of course, the Consett Steel Works. Because it is all so linked in with the Swordmakers I have been researching both.
Ibrahiim's post about the blast-furnace at Allensford, which I immediately assumed was Bertram's place, turns out to be one of Denis Hayford's operations leased from and run by Bertram.
The actual presence of Hayford, not only in the valley, but according to just uncovered references, in SB itself, has set a cat among the pigeons, because I was not aware, and neither was anyone else it seems, that he was actually part of the industry in the village: (Denis Hayford, (c.1635–1733), a pioneer of the steel industry, acquired the lease of Allensford furnace and forge in 1692 which was upstream from his established business in Shotley Bridge. The lease seems to have lapsed in 1713. (Wikipedia).
It was indicated in letters from Mohll to Cotesworth that he was attempting to squeeze ownership of the Hollow Blade Company (or, at least its interest in the SB Swordmakers) away from the London directors and into his hands by putting the bladesmiths into debt over their purchase of his steel. Below, is from Richardson's book regarding letters from Mohll to Cotesworth:
Although remaining aloof from writing anything but business letters for years, in 1715- 24th May, when the works were at a low ebb he almost begs Cotesworth's permission for "we grinders to ground Mr. Hayford's blades made by our smith here .... that is when we have not full employ". He then offers to make an allowance for the use of the mill (the grinding mill), which shows that the Chartered Company could never be approached except through Cotesworth.
Two weeks later Hermann Mohll showed by an almost despairing letter that Den (or Dan) Hayford had cast conspiring glances at the Shotley works and tried to buy or rent them.
Mohll's letter runs- "Sir, I hope you understand that Mr. Hayford is for the Company Works here"-and Mohll describes how his (Hayford) engineers measured all housing, shops and mills, taking water levels and "every thing he cut gite (get), and that if he (Cotesworth) had a kindness for the works here or for me to stop him and hold the old 'husie' back for we will all make blaides for rent and pay the rent every month. Some say he is for buying the works as they say the Company will bestow no more money here . ... "
As can be seen by the letter, Mohll grows more vehement as he proceeds and now calls Hayford 'a sliye youth', threatening to buy not one iron or steel from him.
He concludes by praying for, "a line by bearer whether I have hopes to prevent his aims" then concludes, "Your obedient servant to command, Hermann Mohll".
To me, this is an historic letter for it seems to have frustrated Den Hayford's attempts to take over the works.
So, either some vital information was available to the Wikipedia writer (ref. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography) or my understanding that Den Hayward only operated outside of the area (principally in Sheffield) is wrong.
Once you start investigating the iron industry you enter an entirely new world; however, it was always my intention to show where the SB swordmakers fitted in the industrial development of the Derwent Valley but that is not an endeavour that concerns us here.
One thing is finally revealed however: an enigma that has plagued all the researchers into the SB industry, and that is the identity of Bertram: From the 1690s onwards, one of Hayford’s furnaces was operated by William Bertram, also a German, from Remscheid. Now that just leaves Vinting to discover, but I am fairly certain his ancestors came over to develop lead mining at Ryton; we'll see.