Crucible Furnace

Crucible Furnace

The Crucible Steel Furnace at Abbeydale is the only one of its kind still surviving intact in the UK. Built in around 1830, it supplied the works with quality steel for toolmaking.

The building also houses a Pot Shop, Cellar, Charge Room and Teeming Bay.

Clay crucible pots were made for the furnace in the Pot Shop. The Potmaker mixed locally mined fireclays with china clay, coke dust and water on the treading floor and used his bare feet to tread the clay for up to 51/2 hours until it acquired the required consistency.

Down the steps from the Pot Shop is the cellar where the 'nipper' or 'cellar lad' removed the furnace ash and controlled the draught on the instructions of the melter, performing many tasks not least fetching beer for the furnace men whose strenuous work resulted in considerable dehydration and loss of body weight.

The raw materials for the steel were prepared and weighed in the Charge Room, located above the Furnace and over the Pot Shop.

Temperatures in the crucible furnace reached 1600°C and the strength of the 'puller out', who lifted the weight of molten steel from the furnace was legendary. The 'teemer' was also a highly skilled worker, carefully pouring the steel into ingot moulds with strength and precision in the Teeming Bay.

The cold ingots, on passing quality tests, were taken off site by horse and cart to be reduced in size at the Totley Rolling Mill upstream. The steel converted to one inch square section was then returned to Abbeydale ready to be made into cutting edge scythe blades and other edge tools.