The project took place over the course of a year. During that time, the archive was condition checked, catalogued, researched, and then re-housed in new archival-grade materials. 

The archive contains some 730 orders undertaken by the ironworks in the late 19th - early 20th century for decorative and architectural ironwork such as railings, gates, lamp posts, verandas, fountains and vases. The orders include original draughtsmen drawings, blueprints, costings, and correspondence with clients. There are construction notes, detailed timescales of projects, and annotations written by foremen in the Company, including the foreman fitter and the art designer. Not much is understood about the output of the Coalbrookdale Company at this time. The archive has been a valuable resource in revealing what was being made and when. It not only showcases some of the best work of the ironworks, but also illustrates a wide-ranging design archive of built heritage.  

Moreover, previous research has focused to a certain extent on the managers of the Coalbrookdale Company rather than the workers. The project sought to redress this imbalance and research took place to determine who the workers were behind the orders such as the draughtsmen producing the designs of railings, fountains, and gates. 

The project was made possible through a Headley Fellowship with Art Fund and took place over the course of a year. Headley Fellowships encourage museum projects that bring wider engagement with, and understanding of, the significant collections held by public institutions across the UK. The Fellowship also aims to give curators the time and resource to work with focused areas of their collections, deepening knowledge within their museums, and sharing this across the sector. 

To see the order archive catalogue, click here. For more information on this project, please see our Revealing Research blog post here, and our blog post looking into draughtsman’s drawings here. For all other queries, or if you wish to book an appointment to see the archive, please contact the Library & Archive.