Wealden iron was a significant industry in Britain for over 2,000 years and the Weald area (Surrey, Sussex and Kent) was the main iron-producing area during the early Roman occupation of Britain and in Tudor and early-Stuart times.

Iron production was concentrated in the Weald because there was local iron ore as well as wood for making charcoal and water power. Invention of the coke process meant the coal fields became competitive and there was also concern that too many trees were being destroyed to make charcoal. With the impact of the industrial revolution, the Wealden iron industry had mostly died out by the 19th century.

Evidence in the form of hammer ponds can be found in some areas, and in place names such as Abinger Hammer.

Rural_Life_Centre_Wealden_Iron_Furnace_1

Rural Life Centre Wealden Iron Furnace
Copyright: Image courtesy of Brian Wood

This working replica Wealden iron furnace is at the Rural Life Centre in their blacksmith’s shop. The nearest forge to the Rural Life Centre was at Thursley where the hammer pond remains. This was a very late forge. In 1666 it was leased to iron master, Willliam Yaldon of Blackdown, at that time there was a Forge and Furness. Wrought iron was sent from here by the Godalming Navigation in 1768.

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