Created 7-Jun-12
Modified 26-Jun-12
Visitors 204
29 photos
Backbarrow. The area around Backbarrow in South Cumbria is internationally important in the story of the iron industry. It was also a major manufacturer of ultramarine blue (ie the powder similar to dolly blue), gunpowder, charcoal and other woodland products. Contained in this Gallery is a selection of unique photographs from a private Collection, the Harvey Collection. In addition to the photos there is a collection of documents, the entire collection is destined for a local Archive Record Office.


Low Wood Gunpowder Works
A licence to manufacture gunpowder at Low Wood was issued in 1798. Available locally was a plentiful supply of wood for charcoal production and water power. Saltpetre, and sulphur were mainly imported from abroad. Originally the gunpowder was transported by sea but after the opening of the Furness Railway branch to Lakeside a tramway was created with a bridge over the River Leven to the branch line, the trams being pulled by horses. The gunpowder works was plagued by explosions, over the years 21 men were killed at Low Wood. Good accounts of how gunpowder was produced are given in two excellent publications Mein & Sanderson, The Leven Valley, A Secret Past 2011, and Marshall & Davies-Shiel, Industrial Archaeology of the Lake Counties David & Charles, 1969.

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Keywords:backbarrow, chemical industry, clocktower, cumbria, explosions, explosives, harvey, haverthwaite, health and safety, industrial archaeology, industrial heritage, lake district, lancashire, low wood gunpowder works, morecambe bay, river leven, rivers, tramways, victorians, water supply, water turbines

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Weir and feeder

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Weir and feeder

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Abandoned gunpowder wagon

Low Wood Gunpowder Works,  Abandoned gunpowder wagon

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, feeder channel

Low Wood Gunpowder Works,  feeder channel

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Island in river

Low Wood Gunpowder Works,  Island in river

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, weir and start of mill race

Low Wood Gunpowder Works,  weir and start of mill race

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Boiler house

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Boiler house

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Clock Tower and buildings 1981

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Clock Tower and buildings  1981

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Clocktower

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Clocktower

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Collapsed tramway bridge

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Collapsed tramway bridge

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Concrete footbridge over Leven

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Concrete footbridge over Leven

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Feeder channel Low Wood

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Feeder channel Low Wood

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Gates of tramway nr Haverthwaite

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Gates of tramway nr Haverthwaite

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Gunpowder truck axle

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Gunpowder truck axle

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Gunpowder truck braking system

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Gunpowder truck braking system

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Gunpowder truck

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Gunpowder truck

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Gunpowder wagon solid axles

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Gunpowder wagon solid axles

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Part of water turbine

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Part of water turbine

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Penstock or sluice

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Penstock or sluice

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Remains of tramway bridge

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, Remains of tramway bridge

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, River bridge Haverthwaite

Low Wood Gunpowder Works, River bridge Haverthwaite