Breathing new life into old book

If you didn’t already know, the Land of Oak & Iron is a 177 kmarea surrounding the Derwent Valley including Consett, Rowlands Gill, Prudhoe and Whickham. It is rich in woodland and natural habitats to explore, with a wealth of wildlife to discover and enjoy, as well as being home to areas of great industrial importance that once shaped the landscape.

Just one of these areas of great industrial importance is the lower Derwent Valley. We are excited to announce we are publishing a book exploring the life and works of historic philanthropist, Sir Ambrose Crowley and his ironworks in Winlaton, Winlaton Mill and Swalwell, 57 years after it went out of print. A special celebratory event is being held to mark the occasion at the Lit & Phil Society in Newcastle and we’d love for you to join us!

Men of Iron back in print thanks to Land of Oak & IronMen of Iron: The Crowleys in the Early Iron Industry, was originally written in 1962 by Professor Michael Walter Flinn (1917 – 1983), a lecturer in economic and social history at Edinburgh University. With original copies now only available in academic and some public libraries, we’re making the story of how Sir Ambrose Crowley ran his company and created a society, almost a prototype of the welfare state, accessible to all.

With permission from the author’s sons, Mark and Hugh Flinn, our Legacy Group, led by volunteers Val Scully and Geoff Marshall, scanned a hard copy of the original book loaned to them by the Winlaton & District Local History Society. Val and Geoff later spent over 100 hours transcribing the 95,000 words into a 300-page paperback book fit for the modern day. What an achievement!

It’s safe to say we are forever in debt to the volunteers at our Legacy Group, and of course Mark and Hugh Flinn, for allowing us to publish this old book, helping us re-tell the story of the ironworks that once shaped the region, while bringing our history and heritage back to life.

We may never know why Sir Ambrose Crowley chose the Derwent Valley as the manufacturing and distribution centre for his London-based company but what we do know, thanks to this masterly account, is how. How he thought and sounded; how he ran his empire; and importantly, how he created an enlightened welfare system for his workers and their families at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution.

To celebrate the publication of this second edition of Men of Iron: The Crowleys in the Early Iron Industry, a special launch event is being held at the Lit & Phil in Newcastle, between 6.30pm and 8.00pm on Wednesday 13th March.

A talk on the ironworks and its historical importance of national and international significance will be given by Dr William Lancaster, who has provided an introduction for the new edition of the book. Mark Flinn, one of the author’s sons, who wrote the foreword for the remastered edition, will also be in attendance at the event. It’s sure to be a great night full of lots of interesting insight, and we really do hope you can join us.

Tickets to the launch event cost £5 and booking is essential (we’d hate for you to miss out on a spot). During the event, copies of the book will also be available to buy for a special price of £5.

Book now.