Letter – William Armstrong to Thomas Richard Beaumont – 18 Apr 1793

Document Type: Letter
Date: 18 Apr 1793
Correspondent: William Armstrong
Recipient: Thomas Richard Beaumont
Archive Source: AE Beaumont letters
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18th April 93

Dear Sir,

      A friend of improvement and a well wisher of your Lordships desirous of Observing, a matter of Importance and hopes if your honour gives Attention the information will be found to be very advantageous as your works is so large and extensive…………  I have been a workman for you, your Ancestors and different other masters in working and Manufacturing that Valuable Metal called Lead Ore, and by my own experience and seeing the different performances of other workmen, possitively knows that there is a larger improvement due to the works of your Lordship, as I have been Eye witness to many of the said works, Observe them to be carried on in the same construction as works used to be att different other places before the late Experimental Applycation, But as words from a workman unknown perhaps may be looked at to be thro disrespect of some agent or agents, and flater your self that there are men of superior knowledge in working and manufacturing Lead ore, while to the contrary we are sure they know no more or one that never seed works of the above Nature or at least has no better direction, which i shall prove by laying down a few instances worthy making inquiry into and after found to be real expects will be a full satisfaction of the mismanagement of your Works, 1st, I shall shew you the custom in working & manufacturing the Lead ore 2dly the produce of the same according to our latest improvement, and every Expence relying thereon till Laid down upon Newcastle Quay, & Lastly the Difference between your work and the Adventurer and Manufacturer where I have been imployed  

      1st the custom in Alston moor is the proprietor or Lord of the Manor lets to lease a certain length of ground.  Where a vain is discovered and likely to carry metal and for the Anuity receives every 1/5 Bing or 1/5 part the mine raises which upon an average last year would sold at £4 4s per Bing so for every 2000 Bing of ore your mines raises there should be a profit of £1680 found upstanding for being Lord of the Manor besides the profit should arise by being Adventurer and manufacturer as there can be no hazard in a ready won mine.  Secondly I shall show you 2,000 Bing of Ore manufactured and every Expence relating the same till laid down upon Newcastle Quay.  Observing Metal is not all of one Quality because there is difference both in lead and silver for Instance I have been present at Manufacturing metal from thirty different mines in one Year and my <branch> gave me such a prevelige that i was the only person at that place could be a judge of metal or the Value of Metal according to our latest improvement.  But as the richest in Lead is little below 4 Bing to the Ton, the richest in silver is as little below 4 ½ first fire.  But however one might take in hand to work 2000 bing of ore and give the Master 520 Ton of Lead and every expense should only amount to £1040 so when Lead is at £19 per Ton you should have if Manufactured right £4 8s pr Bing  for your Metal, which if you will peruse your accounts and paralel with this calculation, I am positive you will find several thousands of pounds thrown away Yearly, and intirely or mostly in the mismanagement of the Operation in Smelting &c &c 

      Lastly i shall Observe to you the Equality of your metal and the advantages you should in manufacturing, with other people for the Metal it is superior at Allenheads and Weardale, and Coal Clugh is just the same as many in Alston Moor being the same Vains and got in the same Sills they joins each other and for the Situation in working or Manufacturing of it you are Equally as well situated or Better, for the greatest Manufacturers i know of not being proprietors farms their Mill of you that is Allen Mills, [underlined in different pencil –by recipient?] a little below Allen Town which is a simple thing or your Agents to let her Because she stands in the direct road between Newcastle and Coal Clugh, has a constant supply of Water & fuel comes 1/3? Cheaper than any of your Mills your have in your own hand.  Besides the more mills you keep going the fewer mills will go to one hearth or fire and where there is above 4 men to one fire the constant working raises such a substance of heat that it Evaporates the Metal and consumes it for want of drawing the hearth till she cool every hearth should be drawn once in 16 hours at your works they only draw once in 2 or 3 sometimes only once in 6 days this is one reason in defraying the Produce, so After Beging your pardon for the small hint which I mean for no persons ill but intirely for your good, I pray for God Almighty’s sake do not discover my Name, the reason is I am only a workman Under such Masters and if discovered would be a means of making me lose my Bread so no more.

      Your honourable svt

      Wm Armstrong

Catten ny Allen Town

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The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467