TITLE

A skilled workforce during the transition to industrial society: forgemen in the British iron trade, 1500-1850

AUTHOR(S)
Evans, Chris
PUB. DATE
June 1998
SOURCE
Labour History Review (Maney Publishing);Summer98, Vol. 63 Issue 2, p143
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
This article examines the transformations that took place during the industrial revolution in Great Britain. The indirect technique of ironmaking was introduced to the British Isles at the end of the fifteenth century. As was so often the case in the early modern world technological transfer was effected through the wholesale movement of skilled workers into a new environment. In this case, furnace and forge workers from Normandy were brought across the English Channel to operate ironworks in the Weald of Kent and Sussex. At least five hundred of these workers arrived in southern England between the 1490s and the 1540s. They were themselves the descendants of migrant ironworkers from the southern Netherlands where indirect reduction methods had advanced the furthest in the later-middle ages. The spread of the indirect technique across the British Isles, which was gradually effected between the mid-sixteenth and the early-eighteenth centuries, followed the same pattern: groups of skilled workers were transplanted into new locations where the necessary resources of wood and water power were available. Those forge workers who fanned out across the British Isles in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were very often the descendants of the first francophone migrants of the sixteenth century.
ACCESSION #
4055254

 

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