A Grand Day Out: Moira Furnace

Moira Blast FurnaceTucked away in the village of Moira in Leicestershire is a surprisingly well-preserved relic of our industrial history.

Moira furnace is a nineteenth-century blast furnace. It was built in 1804, in what seemed to be the ideal location on the banks of the Ashby Canal, with plentiful coke and iron ore available locally. The Earl of Moira surely expected to see his furnace producing large quantities of iron and making a profit. Sadly for him, things did not work out. The furnace did produce saleable iron, but not for long. The information boards at the site describe how poor raw materials, bad management and issues with the design and construction of the furnace all contributed to commercial failure. Bad news for the Earl of Moira, but good news for us – the short working life of the furnace allowed a large part of it to survive intact.

Today the area around the former furnace is a country park, whilst the furnace itself houses a museum, but unfortunately we didn’t get to see that. Despite checking opening hours on the museum’s recently updated web page, we arrived to find the building bolted and barred and it remained closed all day. Even the shutters on the windows of the public toilets on the site remained locked shut – which was fine in the morning when the lights worked, but rather more challenging in the afternoon, when the power seemed to be off!

The outside of the furnace was still visible, so we admired it whilst we ate our picnic and I attempted to impress Mr TLC with my metallurgical knowledge by explaining how the magic of iron ore + coke + heat results in iron (and a lot of impurities). The outside of the building did look impressive – I liked the way that brick paving had been used to show where the molten iron was tapped from the hearth into “pigs”.

Having got as much as we could from the furnace itself, we whiled away the rest of the afternoon by strolling along the short, but rather pretty, section of the Ashby Canal and admiring the Moira Furnace barge before setting off to explore some local footpaths. We almost missed the nearby lime kilns, but they were definitely worth a look. There are also a few interesting bits of artwork dotted around the site, so there’s plenty to see.

We didn’t exactly have a blast at Moira furnace, but we had a nice walk with some interesting things to look at, so that’s not bad.

 

Moira Furnace and Ashby Canal:

Moira blast furnace   Furnace stack   Hearth and brickwork pigs   Bridgehouse and Barge   Ashby Canal

The Lime Kilns:

Lime kilns   Top of the lime kilns   Looking down into a lime kiln lime kilns 2   Interior of a lime kiln

Artwork at the site:

 Is it wheely art?   fire-breathing dragon

Useful links:

Visitor information (although our experience suggests that this may not be entirely accurate!)

There is lots of information about the history of Moira Furnace in their education pack, which is aimed at teachers, but has useful information for anyone who is interested in the history of the site.

 

 

All photos: by Lois Lindemann, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

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