Key Dates at Bedlington Iron & Engine Works

1736 William Thomlinson signed 99 year lease for 50 acres of land on the Bebside bank of the River Blyth. Here he set up slitting mills, utilising water power to work bellows, hammers etc. Then known as Bebside Mill. Nailers shops were also built.
1737 Thomlinson died.
1757 Maling and Co (Sunderland) took over the works which were then known as the Bedlington Ironworks. A blast furnace was constructed, the only one in Northumberland in the 18th C.
1782 Works taken over by William Hawkes and Thomas Longridge. The blast furnace was abandoned and the company concentrated on rolling iron. Under new owners the works became noted for heavy forgings, in particular ships anchors.
Early 19thC Slitting mills ceased production and, as a consequence, nail making more or less ceased in Bedlington.
1809 Works taken over by Gordon and Biddulph of London. It was during their ownership that Michael Longridge, a close friend of George Stephenson, joined the firm. It was under his direction that the company achieved the peak of its production and fame.
1814 Boiler plates, axles and wheels for George Stephenson’s first loco, “Blucher”, were made at the Bedlington Ironworks
1820 John Birkenshaw, principal agent of the Works, took out a patent on malleable iron rail. It was first used on the waggonway linking the Ironworks to Glebe (later Barrington) Colliery. “Light has at length shone from the north and I pronounce it is my candid opinion the malleable iron rail road at Bedlington works is by far the best I have ever seen” (William James, railway pioneer). The importance of this waggonway as a factor in the evolution of the iron road can scarcely be over-estimated. Malleable iron rails, because of their durability and cheapness, were the key to the success of pioneering long distance railways such as the Stockton-Darlington and Liverpool-Manchester lines. (A short length of line from the Stockton-Darlington Railway is in store at Woodhorn Colliery Museum).
1837 Bedlington rail was used in the construction of Russia’s first railway line (between Tsarskoe Selo and Pavlovsk), opened by Tsar Nicholas I on 30th October 1837.
1837 A Locomotive Works opened on the Bebside bank of the river. The first loco built here was called “Michael Longridge” and was the first of about 150. The first passenger train to leave Kings Cross (1852) was hauled by a Bedlington loco. Bedlington engines, “De Snelheid” and “Bayard”, hauled the first trains in Holland and Italy respectively. Bedlington locos were delivered to various railway companies around Britain and also to Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Persia.
1852 Prince Albert is believed to have been the last locomotive built at the Works.
1855 Locomotive Works closed down. (Replicas of Bedlington locos De Arend and Bayard are preserved in museums in Utrecht and Naples respectively)
1858 Death of Michael Longridge.
1861 Works under the ownership of Messrs Mounsey and Dixon. (After leaving Bedlington, Dixon built the first railway in China, erected Cleopatra’s Needle on the Thames embankment and built Hammersmith Bridge).
1862 Mrs Mounsey, whilst being given a tour of the factory, got caught up in some of the working machinery and was literally torn to pieces.
1865 Bedlington Coal Company purchased the Ironworks.
1867 Works finally closed, unable to compete with iron towns such as Middlesbrough.
1886 The weir which once dammed the river to provide water power for the Ironworks was washed away (the remains of this weir are still visible today).
1906 The last standing chimney was demolished
1959 Derelict buildings cleared and Dene Park created..





Bedlington Engine and Iron Works
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