Funtley - Fontley Iron Mills

Fontley Iron Mills

Fontley House, Iron Mill Lane was the residence of Samuel Jellicoe from about 1784 until his death in 1812. Samuel Jellicoe was the partner of Henry Cort of Fontley Iron Mills (next door to the house). Henry Cort was the inventor of the rolling mill and the puddling furnace which were of importance for the production of iron during the Napoleonic Wars. Some of Cort's inventions were tried out at these mills.

Cort's innovation was a new process for "fining" iron. This became essential, once blast furnaces were used to extract iron from its ore. The "pig" iron produced was too impure for forging (though it could be cast ): fining removed the impurities. The previous method of fining used a finery hearth fuelled with charcoal. By Cort's time wood for making charcoal had long become too scarce to enable the iron industry to expand: already many blast furnaces were using coke instead of charcoal. What Cort did was to burn coal in the furnace, and "puddle" his impure iron, i.e. stir it with a long rod, in the hot gas of the flames. The purified iron came out as spongy mass, and had to be consolidated (shingling. Another of Cort's innovations was to use grooved rolls in a rolling mill, rather than a hammer to draw the iron out into a bar. This enabled the iron to be rolled into bars with a variety of cross-sections (square, circular, etc.). These two brilliant innovations, were the most important ones for the iron industry in Industrial Revolution.

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