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Cast iron covers

Local foundries

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries many of our towns had small foundries making goods for local markets. They cast iron and worked with wrought iron and brass to produce nails, screws and hand tools, grates and cooking ranges, and even large machines for the mining industry. A growing concern for public health in the nineteenth century led to drainage being improved. Local foundries helped by making manhole and drain covers.

Exotic imports 

The arrival of railways in the nineteenth century greatly increased the distribution of some early cast iron products. Some of these made their way to the Yorkshire Dales. For example, in Sedbergh there are at least two surviving cast iron covers made by Thomas Crapper, better known for sanitary ware. Similar examples can be found in Westminster Abbey in London.

Why are cast iron covers important? 

Because they are made out of cast iron, they can be brittle. They are easily broken during road improvements. Sometimes they are replaced with modern mass produced covers without consideration of their historic significance.

By identifying their locations we hope to raise awareness of this link to our industrial heritage and help ensure their survival.


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