19th century iron key dating
The construction had relied on carpentry techniques.Watt’s rotary action steam engine in 1781 helped increase the furnace size and was used for bellows, helping to boost production.Some small ironmasters tried to group together to get around this issue, with some success.In addition, British ore was plentiful but contained lots of sulfur and phosphorous which made brittle iron, and the technology to deal with this was lacking.In 1709 Darby became the first man to smelt iron with coke (more on the coal industry).Although this was a key date, the impact was limited as the iron was still brittle.Arguably, the key development came in 1783 -4, when Henry Cort introduced the puddling and rolling techniques.
During 1793 – 1815 British iron production quadrupled. In 1815, when peace broke out, the price of iron and demand fell, but by then Britain had become the largest European producer of iron.1825 has been called the start of the new Iron Age, as the iron industry experienced a massive stimulation from the heavy demand for railways, which needed iron rails, iron in the stock, bridges, tunnels and more.
British iron production in 1700 was 12,000 metric tons a year. Although Darby is sometimes cited as the major innovator, it was Cort’s new methods which had the major effect and his principles are still used today.
The location of the industry experienced as big a change as that of production and technology, as the businesses were able to move to coalfields.
The size of furnaces remained small in this era, limited output, and the technology was dependent upon the amount of timber in the area.
As transport was poor, everything needed to be close together, further limiting production.