East Peak Innovation Partnership (EPIP)
12 St Mary's Street
Penistone, S36 6DT

Call: 01226 763 201

EPIP industrial heritage programme

Rockley Furnace and Engine House

Between September 2011 and March 2012 the Industrial Heritage Programme funded an archaeological survey and a condition survey of Rockley Furnace; an early eighteenth century blast furnace, and Rockley Engine House; an early nineteenth century engine house for a newcomen type engine.

The furnace and engine house are both scheduled ancient monuments and the site is in woodland just off Rockley Lane, close to Birdwell (South Yorkshire). The site is owned by the South Yorkshire Industrial History Society and the project was carried out in collaboration with volunteers from the society and other local interest groups. 


 Rockley Furnace before and after site clear-up, 2011 (photographs by T Roberts)

The first stage of the work was to clear brambles and other weeds from around the furnace so that the remains could be seen. This was done as part of the annual clear-up of the site by the Industrial History Society, with help from the Rockley Rotary Club. The next stage was a condition survey of the standing structures, which was carried out by conservation architects Wiles and Maguire. A cherry picker was required to reach the top of the engine house, which also provided an opportunity to carefully remove a number of small saplings that were causing damage to the upper levels of the structure. 


Condition Survey of Rockley Engine House December 2011 (photographs by T Roberts)

The third stage of the project was an in-depth archaeological survey (including desk-based assessment and measured topographical survey) of the entire site. This was carried out by ArcHeritage who used digital scanning technology to produce an accurate record of the earthworks across the site (including the remains of an earlier water system that was re-routed to supply the furnace in the eighteenth century, and the track bed of a mid-nineteenth century tramway, neither of which had been previously identified).

The scanning also produced some fantastic 3-dimensional images of the standing remains, including a section through the furnace itself (see images below).


Laser scans of Rockley Furnace (courtesy of ArcHeritage 2012)

The project work included an advanced archaeological survey training day (which was run in collaboration with the introduction to survey training session at Silkstone) and follow-up on site training and volunteer opportunities for local volunteers. 

The archaeological research has been brought together in a report and the results were presented at a free public event at Wentworth Castle Stainborough (which has historical links to the Rockley site) on May 17th 2012. For more information, or to obtain a digital copy of the report, please contact our Industrial Heritage Support Officer. 

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