Rolling Iron
The workman in the foreground is feeding a bar of heated metal (1) through a two-high rolling mill (2). The rollers are grooved and will eventually form a round iron bar. The workman on the right is preparing to adjust the distance between the rollers which will alter the final diameter of the bar.
The rolling mill was a development of the slitting mill. John Hanbury of Pontypool had developed a mill which could produce thin
iron sheets by 1720 and the

  Rolling iron
   
 


process was developed further in the 1780s by John Cort who fitted grooves in the rollers. This meant that many different types of section could be produced. The drawing shows an idea of what such a rolling mill might have looked like when they were introduced to the Bedlington works in the 1780s by Hawks and Longridge. This introduction was, probably, the most significant single event in the development of the ironworks. It eventually led to the production of malleable iron rails in 1819 which were cheaper, and stronger, than cast iron rails and sold prolifically to the companies building early long-distance rail lines.
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Bedlington Engine and Iron Works
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