19th century iron key dating

30-Sep-2019 14:15

Arguably, the key development came in 1783 -4, when Henry Cort introduced the puddling and rolling techniques.

These were ways of getting all the impurities out of iron and allowing large-scale production, and a vast increase in it.

While Britain had good iron ore reserves, the iron produced was of a low quality with plenty of impurities, limiting its use.

There was plenty of demand, but not much was produced as wrought iron, which had many of the impurities hammered out, took a long time to make and was available in cheaper imports from Scandinavia.

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.

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Consequently, British iron was used for cheap, poor quality items like nails.

This was because iron simply couldn’t meet demand and over half of the iron used came from Sweden.

While the British industry was competitive in war, when costs of imports rose, peace was problematic.

In 1767 Richard Reynolds helped costs fall and raw material travel further by developing the first iron rails although this was superseded by canals.

In 1779 the first all iron bridge was built, really demonstrating what could be done with enough iron, and stimulating interest in the material.

Consequently, British iron was used for cheap, poor quality items like nails.

This was because iron simply couldn’t meet demand and over half of the iron used came from Sweden.

While the British industry was competitive in war, when costs of imports rose, peace was problematic.

In 1767 Richard Reynolds helped costs fall and raw material travel further by developing the first iron rails although this was superseded by canals.

In 1779 the first all iron bridge was built, really demonstrating what could be done with enough iron, and stimulating interest in the material.

Meanwhile, civilian use increased, as everything which could be made of iron began to be, even window frames.