Islip Furnaces

The history of the furnaces and various quarries in the Woodford area are well documented in the Woodford book (Humphries) and Eric Tonks’ book about quarrying in Northamptonshire.

The discovery of ironstone and the subsequent processing of the ore changed Woodford from a small village relying on agriculture and shoemaking as the main income sources with the vast majority having been born and bred in the local district, to a cosmopolitan village with miners and furnacemen coming from across the whole country. Many if the single men are known to have spent their leisure time drinking, especially in the Prince of Wales and the Steam Engine public houses. Whilst many of the single men stayed in lodgings either with other families or village pubs, the construction of the area known as Newtown was a result of this employment expansion. Additionally, a row of cottages and a manager’s house (slightly larger) were built at the west end of what is now Mill Road and was known at the time of Mill Terrace.

The quarries employed a large number of quarrymen and miners who also worked some of the underground mines towards Slipton and Lowick. Engine Drivers, firemen engineers, blacksmiths ran a network of narrow gauge railways, horsemen looked after the pit ponies, in the furnaces themselves there were slag breakers, furnacemen, stokers, pig iron lifters, as well as the general labourers who carried out so many of the other tasks such as filling and operating the furnaces. The following three photos show general views of the furnaces. The third one also shows a wagon in a loading bay (see story of Bertie Perrett). The furnaces commenced operation on 20 April 1873 and the final iron cast on 16 October 1943. Demolition followed with the chimney being demolished at 9.40pm on 21 June 1950. Islip Furnaces from Thrapston Road Woodford

Islip Furnaces from Kettering Road looking towards Woodford

Close up of the furnaces

A later version of the photo above from similar viewpoint

Furnace workers - Back left is Sam Smart, Back right is Ben Smart (son of Sam). Front row left is Freddie Perrett (b1852), front right is Noah Perrett (b1887) son of Freddie and brother of Bertie

The Chimney Falls at 8.40pm on 21st June 1950