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September 10, 2016 / Apley Estate - Hamiltons

Association for Industrial Archaeology at Apley Home Farm


Apley Home Farm original plans, 1873


Notes on the Apley Home Farm buildings, written by the Apley land agent in 1975, Patrick Roney-Dougal

Coal cellar under Apley Home Farm's buildings

Coal cellar under Apley Home Farm’s buildings

This morning, we welcomed the Association for Industrial Archaeology at Apley Home Farm, who are having their 44th Conference in Telford from today until Wednesday. It includes very learned members from universities all over the UK, Spain & the Netherlands.

Our home farm is significant as it was a model farm in its time (1873), way ahead of its time.

I love hearing ideas bouncing off between people gathered together to discuss a subject. Individually, they have their specialist areas of knowledge. Collectively, they know so much about British industrial archaeology. We are very indebted to them. Without their work & studies, Britain’s industrial heritage would not be recorded & would be gradually lost.

I love learning from them all – they know so much more than we do about our own estate’s industrial heritage. Eg. on parting, someone suggested our farm office building was perhaps the weighbridge where the weights of incoming goods (eg coal deliveries) & those outgoing (eg grain) would be checked. They revealed the access to the coal cellar I’d never noticed before (see photo below).

The detail of their knowledge is insurpassable. Kings Cross Station also used laminated beams in 1852. They were replaced by iron beams as the heat from the trains’ steam engines affected the spring in the laminated beams so much that it began to push the side walls apart. ‘Apley Park Homestead’ also used (& still has) these laminated beams (which surprised me, as WO Foster owned his own ironworks). The [pine] wood mostly came from Hampshire at the time & was probably transported to Shropshire by canal.

The conference of 120 delegates was organised by David de Haan, Steve Dewhirst, Shane Kelleher & Ian West, all of whom I’ve met before & toured parts of the Apley Estate. Another organiser is John Powell who I’ve not yet met.

They will also be visiting Broseley Clay Tobacco Pipeworks, Wappenshall Canal Basin, the Lilleshall limestone mining landscape & many others. BTW, reading their programme I was reminded that the Wrekin is one of the oldest rocks (Pre Cambrian) in Europe. Amazing !

Holkham Hall in Suffolk also has a model farm & by chance owned by Gavin’s cousins, the Coke family. There are several model farms in Norfolk. Some belonged to mental hospitals (as they were known then) which had to be fairly self-sufficient.

Very helpfully, Gavin had found these original architect’s plans of the ‘homestead’ (home farm) of 1873, as well as these notes written by the Apley Estate land agent in 1975, Patrick Roney-Dougal. We are still trying to locate an even better document in our archives – I’ll be back asap with that one.

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