4. The Armitage Brothers

When Edward died in 1829 he left the estate to his widow, Sarah Armitage (1768-1847). She immediately let Farnley Hall to her husband’s nephew, John William Rhodes. Sarah decided that upon her death the four surviving sons, John (1792-1870), James (1793-1872), Edward (1796-1878) and William (1798-1883), should become tenants in common of the Farnley estate. In 1844, three years before her demise, they took possession of the Hall. James and William created the Farnley Iron Works Company to exploit the high quality coal, iron and fireclay beneath their property. William lived in Farnley Hall until about 1865.

The brothers began to manufacture pig iron in cold-blast furnaces and the firm soon became renowned for making ‘best Yorkshire iron’. This expensive metal was ideal for special purposes, like the manufacture of piston-rods and the connecting-rods of steam locomotives, where strength was critical.

Farnley Fireclay Works

Aerial view of the extensive Farnley Ironworks located just off Whitehall Road. Leeds Library and Information Service: Leodis

Interior views of the works in 1902

running of metal refinery
puddling  hammering blooms
rolling bars interior view

Due to the large reserves of fireclay beneath Farnley it expanded production into the manufacture of glazed bricks and porcelain items. In 1893 it manufactured 500,000 bricks and exported them to America for use in the new Congress Library building in Washington. By 1900 about 1,500 miners and workmen were employed by the company.



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