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Bersham Ironworks - The Early Years

There was an ironworks at Bersham in the mid 17th century.

Bersham was a great location for making iron.  The ironmaster needed iron ore, charcoal, limestone and water-power.  In the 18th century he needed coal as well.  All were available nearby:

There was also a growing market for iron goods in Wrexham and Chester.

John Wilkinson Token - © Bersham Heritage Centre

Charles Lloyd, a friend of Abraham Darby of Coalbrookdale (Abraham Darby was the famous ironmaster from Shropshire. He pioneered the production of iron using coking coal – a key event in the Industrial Revolution.), built a blast furnace here in c. 1717 to supply the Pont y Blew forge in Chirk.  In the 1730s Bersham ironmasters started to make cast iron goods like cooking pots, but there were problems.  Raw materials’ costs were increasing, the price of iron varied and making cast iron was difficult.  Successive ironmasters failed.

In 1753, Isaac Wilkinson, a north-country ironmaster and inventor, keen to find an ironworks with potential, took over Bersham Ironworks.  He expanded the works and made pots, pipes, rollers, and armaments, but he too was in financial trouble by 1761.  His son, John Wilkinson, was more successful.

I understood Bersham Furnace ceased this day blowing with charcoal and went on blowing with coakes for potting.

John Kelsall, diary entry, December 3rd 1721.