Letters – Benjamin Johnson to Finlay & Hodgson – 28 Nov 1832

Document Type: Letters
Date: 28 Nov 1832
Correspondent: Benjamin Johnson
Recipient: Finlay & Hodgson
Archive Source: NRO 672/E/1E/7
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 		  Copy of Ths Pattinsons Letter to Finlay Hodgson & Co

								Lead Works Blaydon Novr 28 1832


	Mr Johnson handed me your obliging lre of the 1st Inst which attentively considered & upon which I will proceed to give my opinion. The subject is one of great importance & some difficulty but whatever may be the result of our future experience I feel that I cannot err far at present by delivering my ingenuous sentiments which indeed it is almost needless to say I have always done when speaking or writing upon the subject. 

	I do not think the quality of our comm Lead is so good as it will become by & by for I conceive it is smelted at too great a heat in the Ore hearth & that a portion of slag Lead is produced at this high temperature which of course mixes with the comm Lead & renders it hard. The obvious care of this is to smelt at a lower heat & the question may naturally be asked why this is not done immediately? One reason is that the ore must be better roasted by which it will smelt at a lower heat. This will be altered progressively as additional furnaces are put up where they are wanted. Another reason is that it is impossible to act suddenly upon large bodies of men or to drive them instantly out of plans they have been accustomed to pursue for years. It must be done gradually and cautiously. Now I am glad to assure you that a regular plan has been adopted for bringing about a great and I believe a salutary change in the management of Mr Bts mills the operation is certain & I trust this change will appear to you by a gradual improvement in the quality of the Lead. I speak now of the common Lead – upon which I needed not to have said so much perhaps for all this you were acquainted with before- indeed you are so good as allude to its being in a state of progressive improvement. I now come to that important part of your lre where you say “it is certain what ever may be the cause “that the WB Refd Lead does not bear the same “character in the market as the WB Comm Lead and that the Selectd Refd only can be used for the manufacture of White Lead” a statement which is  quite true but the reason of which I will explain.

	The Lead Ore yielded by the different veins in Mr Beaumonts mining districts is not all of the same quality much of it is pure Galena, that is merely a compound of Sulphur & Lead without any other ingredient. From this ore which is by far the greatest portion of the whole the very best Lead can be made & this constitutes our Selectd Refd Lead. Other ores contain besides Sulphur & Lead small portions of other metals chemically combined with them as Copper, Iron, Manganese others, which it is impossible I conceive to prevent uniting with the Lead in Smelting and giving it a peculiar tinge when made into White Lead the only plan we can pursue is to keep these Ores carefully separate but they generally contain a pretty large quantity of silver & therefor we are obliged to refine the lead they yield. I have now been thro all the mines raising Ore in Mr Bts Works for the purpose of examining the ore and I have found the quality of the greater part excellent particularly the Weardale Ores. I conceive that a good deal of the Ore which will produce selected Refd Lead has been suffered to Ordinary Refd Lead as I shall take care to prevent this in future. I trust our quality of Selected refined will be increased. From my present experience I cannot hold out any hope of ever being able to make all our Refd Lead of the best quality that is equal to our selected Refd but I hope by taking care to keep all the pure ores carefully separate & by the adoption of a certain very cheap & simple process that I shall very much lessen the quantity of ordinary Refd in time. The Governor & Co are exposed to the same inconvenience as we are by their Refd Lead differing in quality although they have not so readily adopted the unfortunate distinction of “Selected” & “Ordinary”. Their Nenthead Refd Lead will not make White Lead (and a good deal of this they mix with Slag & sell it as Comm) & their Stanhope Refd Lead answers well for that purpose. The purchasers of their Lead use the different kinds for the purposes each is adapted but the Company agent at Blaydon always delivers to each order a certain quantity of Nenthead & a certain quantity of Stanhope Refd Lead for they will not sell either description separately the parties receive the Lead as delivered dividing it by the marks on each kind.

					I am with the highest consideration

      Gentm Yr mo Obdt Servt       H L Pattinson   

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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