Small Navigation Menu

Primary Menu

The Development of the Landscape Associated with the South Staffordshire Iron Industry, 1500-1800

Citation: Lewitt, Steve (2023) The Development of the Landscape Associated with the South Staffordshire Iron Industry, 1500-1800. Doctoral thesis, School of Advanced Study.

Steve Lewitt Thesis final.pdf

Creative Commons: Attribution-No Derivative Works 4.0

This thesis examines the landscape development of the river Smestow valley, Staffordshire, associated with iron-making activity between 1500-1750 when the industry flourished. The industry was based on charcoal-fired blast-furnaces driven by water-power in a watermill. Reference is made throughout to a comparison area with a similar history of iron-making in Cannock Chase, Staffordshire. The thesis investigates whether the presence of iron-making mill sites can be explained by geographic features associated with the location of the study area, or if human factors, such as the actions of iron-makers, the development of the market for iron goods, or technological changes affecting the industry, had a greater impact. It therefore contributes to debates concerning the theory of geographic determinism in the development of industrial landscapes with similar geographic features. Consideration is given to the impact on the development of the landscape of the specific geographic features of the area including its plateau-edge location, col connecting the drainage basins of the Severn and Trent, underlying geology, soils, hydrographic development, and woodland cover. Special attention is paid to the creation and management of Kinver Forest which covered much of the area for the period 1000-1500AD and to what extent this supply of timber for charcoal influenced the creation of the iron-making industry. The effect of technological change in the iron industry over the period studied is analysed, as well as changes to the market for the product of the iron-making activity (bar iron). Transport links are examined and one chapter focuses on specific families of iron-makers. The thesis proposes a new paradigm for this specific industrial landscape in that it is the dynamic inter-action of technological change, the activities of individuals and changes in the market that were responsible for the development of its landscape over time, rather than geographical or human factors alone. Secondly, a new typology is proposed for those who exploited the resources of the landscape. Both paradigm and typology have the potential to be applied to other landscapes of industrial exploitation.

Creators: Lewitt, Steve and
Subjects: History
Keywords: Landscape history, iron industry, geographic determinism, Foley, Dudley, Staffordshire
Divisions: Institute of Historical Research
Collections: Theses and Dissertations
  • September 2023 (accepted)


View details