THE FUSSELLS IRON INDUSTRY
The Fussells Iron Industry Society grew out of the 'Fussell Forum', a discussion group which had its inaugural meeting, convened because of interest evident from personal communications, attendance at talks and lectures, and items in the media, in June 2000. The main focus was on the iron industry run by various members of the Fussell family from the mid-1700s until the end of the 19th century but in addition to industrial archaeology the Society's brief extends to the socio-economic history, natural history and geology of this fascinating area. These and other topics are inextricably linked to the ironworks story
The history and archaeology of the local edge tool industry formed the focal point with concern over the future of all the ironworks sites, principally but by no means exclusively the Lower Works at Mells. However, wider ramifications were immediately apparent, including the effects of the industry on the local community, family history (not only of the Fussells!), transport (roads, canals and railways), coal and iron mining, natural history, amenities and tourism, and the earlier history of iron working in the area. There was interest from individuals, both local and not-so-local, and from a number of organisations including museums, industrial archaeology bodies, natural history groups and, understandably at arm's length, local government.
The aims of the Society were to research the industrial archaeology, history, flora and fauna of the Fussells Ironworks sites and of the surrounding areas, and to help to conserve the unique ambience of these wonderful places.
After a number of Forum gatherings, which included presentations on various topics and other activities including working groups, visits and guided walks, it was agreed on 22 May 2001 that the time had come to set up a formally constituted group, the Fussells Iron Industry Society, the first meeting of which was held in September 2001.
After that, the Society held further well-attended meetings and organised a number of working parties at various sites. Research by members (and others) was collated and exchanged. Artifacts including edge tools were been acquired and the long-term aim was to exhibit these together with models and other displays at a museum/library/study centre at one of the ironworks sites. The Society hoped to continue its work, but sadly has become dormant in recent years.
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