Lowwood The Gunpowder Business

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The Gunpowder Business

By Ronald Mein

The gunpowder Works at Lowwood

The proliferation of mines and stone quarries in the middle of the 18th century and onwards made Cumbria a major centre for the manufacture of the explosive required by these industries. There was also a demand for the black powder from the army and navy of the day and a number of factors combined to concentrate this dangerous craft in the area.
The close proximity to timber and the charcoal that was derived from it, the sparse population which meant that the dangerous processes did not impact on residential areas, and of course a ready made power supply in the form of fast flowing water.
Low Wood and Black Beck were the two closest sites to Haverthwaite.

photo of Lowwood Gunpowder Works by D Birchall copyright Artemis Media 2007

Low Wood (or Lowwood) is part of Haverthwaite and the hamlet rests along side the Leven where once was made Iron and Gunpowder. The buildings that for the old gunpowder works can still be seen and what was the workers cottages are now residential houses which are part of an estate. Some of the Iron Masters (the Wilkinson's) went on to build Iron Bridge at Coalbrookdale and the first Iron Ship. Clicking the Iron Bridge link will open a new window.

Lowwood Transport

Originally the gunpowder was transported by horse and cart, the horse used to have to wear brass or copper shoes and the cart wheels also had to have metal rims that would not cause a spark.

The image on the right is one of a recently restored gunpowder van which was used to transport its dangerous cargo around the Furness Railway system until the industry closed.

photo of a restored Gunpowder Wagon

Lowwood Gunpowder Works 1798-1935

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