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Dud Dudley: Iron Man (1) : The 17th-century entrepreneur developed a way of smelting iron with coke rather than charcoal, but the Civil War frustrated his plans.
Dud Dudley: Iron Man
Part one

Based on Industrial Biography, chapter 3, by Samuel Smiles.

Seventeenth-century Government fuel policy made English iron-smelting so expensive that the country became dependent on cheap foreign imports. Dud Dudley had just devised an alternative process, when the Civil War put the industrial revolution on hold.

AS the 16th century opened, monks in England’s monasteries were developing industrial techniques for smelting iron with charcoal.

But the Dissolution of the Monasteries brought an abrupt end to that; and then fears for England’s vanishing forests led the government to favour foreign imports.

In 1619, Dud Dudley, illegitimate but much-loved son of the Earl of Dudley in Worcestershire, left his studies at Oxford to manage his father’s ironworks, where he developed a novel method of smelting iron using coke rather than charcoal.

Despite a devastating flood at his works, and frivolous lawsuits brought by his competitors, Dud’s business grew, and on 22nd February 1620 he was granted a royal patent for his groundbreaking process.

Indeed, Dud gained the personal patronage of Charles I, serving him first as a diplomat, and then as an engineer in the Civil War until 1648, when he was captured.

Wounded in a daring escape, he made his way painfully on crutches to Bristol to lie low.

Based on Industrial Biography, chapter 3, by Samuel Smiles.

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Picture: © Ashley Dace, Geograph. Licence: CC-BY-SA 2.0. View original
The 18th century Duddon iron furnace near Duddon Bridge in Cumbria, which worked from 1736 to 1866, used chacoal and peat to smelt locally-produced iron ore. Dud Dudley’s process, developed a century before, was designed to use coke instead of charcoal.

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