The tiny ancient hamlet which the Domesday Bookrecorded as having ‘land for five ploughs’ grew in the industrial revolution to a place ‘palpitating to the beat and throb of a thousand steam engines’ where ‘iron is manipulated and fashioned to the service of man in every conceivable way that human ingenuity can devise’
The abundance of coal, iron ore and limestone in the locality led to the establishment of iron making. This grew rapidly after the construction of the Birmingham canal in 1770 which allowed finished products to be efficiently transported to worldwide markets. Such was the growth of the canal system in Tipton that the town became known as the Venice of the Midlands with over thirteen miles of waterway within the parish.
As well as making top quality iron, Tipton became especially well known for its heavy engineering trades such as the production of large castings, forgings, structural ironwork, steam engines, boilers, chains and anchors.
Technical innovation and achievement were prolific. In 1712 the world’s first successful steam engine was erected at Coneygree, then in 1776 James Watt’s first commercial engine was put to work at Bloomfield.
The first iron steamship in the world was built by the Horseley Ironworks in 1822 and the world’s largest anchor made by H P Parkes in 1866.The 1830s saw Joseph Hall develop the wet puddling method of ironmaking which revolutionised the industry. In 1937 the world speed record breaking car Thunderbolt was built at Beans Foundry.
Tipton’s contribution to the industrialised world can never be underrated.