Tyne and Wear
Iron / Steel / Shipbuilding, Engineering / Construction
Crowley’s ironworks in its early days was unique in Europe. It was the forerunner of the factory system and formed the basis of the North East’s tradition of ironworking and naval engineering.
The ironworks was founded in 1691 by Ambrose Crowley. The majority of the complex was erected between the late 1690s and 1718. The complex consisted of a forge, slitting mill, plating (rolling) mill, steel furnaces, nail and file makers workshops, warehouses, offices and housing. The works employed up to a thousand people and had its own laws and social security system.
The Crowley Company also operated a similar complex at Swalwell (the chimney of the papermill survives in the Lidl car park), together with extensive workshops at Winlaton village.
Archaeological excavation has established surviving elements of the mill, particularly an 18th century dam with associated spillway and race that has been conserved within the site which now forms part of Derwenthaugh Park.