The remains of Backbarrow Ironworks lie next to the River Leven, between the villages of Backbarrow and Haverthwaite, in the Furness district of Cumbria, England.
Visitors to the site can see the conserved remains of the ‘new’ 1770 furnace stack; the waterwheel pit and later power house; the ovens that re-heated waste gases to supply a hot blast to the furnace; and the massive stone barns that stored the iron-making ingredients.
Neglected for many years after its closure in 1966, and on the Heritage at Risk register for a long time, the furnace stack and associated buildings at its core were repaired and conserved as part of the development of the rest of the site for housing in 2019.
Established in 1711, it was the first in this part of Cumbria (then Lancashire). Using charcoal as its fuel until the 20th century, it kept going even though dwarfed by huge iron and steel works nearby.
During its 250 year lifetime the ironworks was extended and rebuilt many times to accommodate new technologies that improved the way it worked and the amount of iron it produced. Evidence of these changes remain, and that is what makes it so special.
"The surviving structures of this derelict ironworks represent the best illustration nationally of iron-smelting technology development
from the 18th to the 20th century” Historic England's Heritage at Risk register.