During the 1800s, the West Midlands was at the industrial centre of the world, and even today it remains the heartland of British industry, with forging as one of its key components. So, if you’re searching for Forging West Midlands but want to know more about its history and why it is still so important today, then grab your protective glasses and read all about it below.
A Brief History of Forging West Midlands
Forging has existed for thousands of years by utilising fire, and later, water power. But it was during the Industrial Revolution when an increase in electrical steam engine technology allowed forgers to work directly from factories, away from rivers. Mechanical hammers, which are still used today, became operational, improving forging production efficiency.
The West Midlands was already a hotbed for blacksmiths during the English Civil War, as Parliamentarians employed tradesmen to manufacture 15,000 swords for their forces. Blacksmithing remained the primary trade in the West Midlands throughout the next two centuries and at the height of the Industrial Revolution, thousands of factories and forges had been built to take advantage of this skilled workforce. Birmingham (along with the Black Country and the further West Midlands) soon became known as the ‘Workshop of the World’. The name ‘Black Country’ originates from the huge levels of smoke out of the coal seams and factories, showing just how entrenched in the industry the area was.
Into the 20th Century, the forging capabilities expanded and by 1938 there were 240 steam engines in Birmingham alone. This significantly helped with the Second World War effort, as West Midlands forgers created weapons, ammunitions and aircraft, such as at the Spitfire factory in Castle Bromwich. The desperate need for West Midlands forgers during this period lead to improvements in forging equipment and production techniques to stay in line with demand.
Why Forging in the West Midlands is Still Crucial Today
Whilst it may not be the smoke-engulfed region it once was, the local economy, particularly in the Black Country and the surrounding industrial towns, is still largely dependent on forging and engineering businesses. Today, hundreds of forgers still ply their trade across the West Midlands, making it the go-to region in Britain for forging. Increased technological developments including computer-controlled hydraulic hammers have made it industry for the 21st Century, allowing forgers to manufacture more complex productions for bigger names in the aerospace and automotive industries. The bigger the names, the better it is for the local area’s prestige and its economy.