From the mid C16th, Cuckfield’s most profitable industry was iron production. Situated in the Weald, at the time Britain’s largest iron producing area, Cuckfield had all the natural resources for the smelting and forging of iron.
Click here to see the flow-chart which records the iron working process from raw materials to finished products.
Some of Cuckfield’s most prominent families, the Bowyers, the Burrells and the Coverts were ironmasters. They owned or built many of the large houses including Cuckfield Park and Ockenden Manor.
Together, these families owned four furnaces and two forges within Cuckfield’s surrounding countryside, with the Bowyer family owning furnaces and forges further afield.
Click here to see the map which shows the locations of these local furnaces and forges and their relationships to each other.
Towards the end of the C18th, Wealden iron production was being supplanted by the more efficient coal-fired furnaces and forges in the north of England. All that now remains are the diverted streams, hammer ponds, patches of the waste slag and the place-names to remind us of this once thriving industry.
If you are interested in this or any other Cuckfield topics, why not visit us in the museum. Click here to see our opening hours.