Lymington Iron Works, on the Tyne, by Thomas Allom

Lymington Iron Works, on the Tyne. Thomas Allom (1804-1872). c. 1835. Source: Rose, facing p.157 (for full details, see below). Text by Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the University of California Libraries, which uploaded the source to the Internet Archive, and (2) link your document to the Victorian Web in a web document or cite it in a print one. Click on the image to enlarge it.]

This powerful scene shows workmen in action at the ironworks of what was once a small village on the north bank of the Tyne, just over four miles west of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, now known as Lemington and a part of the metropolitan borough of Newcastle. The sweeping lines of the industrial architecture here are dramatic, the heat almost tangible, and the few striving figures almost dwarfed by the billowing forces they engender. When the works were operational, Thomas Rose explained,

The management of the smelting and blast furnaces of the Iron Works requires a high degree of scientific knowledge; a successful reduction of the ores depending entirely on a skilful analysis of them, and a judicious choice of substances to assist the fusion. When we consider the immense value of the metal — its manifold uses — and, in the present state of society, the impossibility of dispensing with such a production, or discovering an adequate substitute, — we must view the iron works of this country with deserved admiration, and rank their conductors amongst the greatest benefactors of the human race. (159)

The scene calls to mind William Bell Scott's later In the nineteenth century the Northumbrians show the world what can be done with iron and coal, one of his murals for Lady Trevelyan's house at Wallington, not far away. The ironworks have long ceased production, having been closed in about 1876 and largely demolished in about 1890 (see Pevsner et al. 374).

In the background on the upper left-hand side is one of the great cones (or kilns) of the nearby glassworks, which predated the ironworks and continued longer in production, but are now closed too. Only one of four cones survives, an important monument to the industry of this part of Northumberland. Houses or other works structures, including a tall chimney stack, can be made out on both sides, suggesting that this was a thriving industrial community.


Pevsner, Nikolaus. et. al. Northumberland. Buildings of England. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. Print.

Rose, Thomas. Westmoreland, Cumberland, Durham, and Northumberland, Illustrated: From Original Drawings by Thomas Allom, George Pickering, &c. London: Fisher and Jackson, 1835. Internet Archive. Web. 25 July 2012.

Last modified 25 July 2012