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Botfield Papers

Date range: 1758–1873.

Records of the firm of Thomas Botfield & Co., charting the activities of a Shropshire coal and iron company through and beyond the Industrial Revolution.

Thomas Botfield (1738–1801) built furnaces at Old Park in 1790 and by 1815 Old Park was the largest ironworks in Shropshire, and the second largest in Britain, consisting of four blast furnaces, a forge and associated collieries.

After Thomas’s death in 1801 his estate passed to his three sons, Thomas, William and Beriah. William managed the Old Park works, but the profits were divided between the three brothers.

In 1830 a forge was built at Stirchley and in the next few years two blast furnaces were constructed at Dark Lane in Dawley.

The company also owned collieries at Clee Hill and Hinkshay in Shropshire, and at Mancott and Sandycroft in Flintshire.

The gradual decline of the Botfield enterprises in the 1860s and ’70s was symptomatic of the Shropshire iron trade’s failure to adapt to modern methods of production.

The archive comprises a full range of business records, including:

  • a large number of copy letter-books, 1802–73
  • thousands of in-letters received by the Botfield family, 1830–73
  • ledgers, journals, cash books, wages account books and other financial records
  • sales, delivery and production records
  • property records such as inventories and valuations of works
  • a few Botfield family records

Finding aids

  • Online catalogue available via the A2A website.
  • See also Barry Trinder, The Industrial Revolution in Shropshire (Chichester, 1981).

Location

The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

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