’Many workmen and boys were dubbed with nicknames; here are just a few: Raspass, MagpieIron Mike, Teddy-lol-lol, Cottage Tom, Spot Tom and 6ft Tom…’  [Charles Peskin, c. 1900] 

By the middle of the 19th century, the Coalbrookdale Company employed between 3,000 and 4,000 men. Little is known about them, although census and archival research has shed light on a handful. Below, you can meet a few of the workers who were directly referenced in the order archive. 

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George Shepherd, Art Designer


Shepherd was born in 1856 in Dawley. He rose at Coalbrookdale from moulder to designer, overseeing drawing production. Several archive drawings are marked as ‘checked by’ him. Shepherd also taught at the local Coalbrookdale School of Art, one of many Government Schools of Art where hopeful or practising draughtsmen took drawing and design classes.   





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Walter Jones, Assistant Manager


Jones was born in 1857 in Coalbrookdale. His father was a pattern maker at the Works. Jones attended the Coalbrookdale School of Art, winning numerous prizes. By 1881, at the age of 23, Jones is working at the ironworks as a pattern maker. He worked as a pattern maker for several years before becoming the foreman pattern maker, and then assistant manager of the Works. Jones was also Chair of Ironbridge Co-operative Society.












IMAGE 26 Abraham Chilton.jpg

Abraham Chilton, Foreman Fitter


Abraham Chilton was born in 1837 in Little Wenlock, the son of an iron roller. Chilton was a fitter for the Coalbrookdale Company from at least 1881, rising to the foreman at some point between 1881 and 1891. According to an oral history interview with a former employee at the Works, Chilton was a notorious character. He was charge of his own workshop and his job would have been to assemble castings together and check they fitted correctly, before being dispatched. 






IMAGE 27 Benjamin Boycott.jpg

Benjamin Boycott, Foreman Moulder


Boycott was born in 1857 in Dawley and worked as a moulder at the ironworks from at least 1881. He is noted as the foreman moulder in the 1901 census. As a moulder, Boycott would have been responsible for creating the sand moulds into which molten iron was poured, as well as pouring the iron into the moulds. It would have been physically tiring, heavy work. 



IMAGE 28 William John Fletcher.jpg

William John Fletcher, Foreman Pattern Maker


Fletcher was born in Coalbrookdale in 1867. His father and brother both worked as fitters at the ironworks. Fletcher began working in Coalbrookdale at some point before turning 15. Originally a fitter, he rose through the ranks from fitter to foreman pattern maker. His job was highly skilled, carving patterns that were used to create cavities in sand moulds into which iron was poured. He is referenced in several of the Coalbrookdale orders. 




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James Rawle, Storekeeper


James Rawle was born in 1857 in Bristol. He worked for the Coalbrookdale Company for a total of 34 years, 12 of them spent at the Bristol office, and 22 of them spent at Coalbrookdale. He was a clerk for many years, and then a storekeeper.  

In 1906 Rawle was charged with embezzlement. At this time, Rawle was working as a storekeeper, where he could sell coal or iron on behalf of Coalbrookdale. It transpired that Rawle had been selling goods, but not recording the purchases and then pocketing the money for himself. He did this over a considerable period of time, and the embezzlement ran into £190. During sentencing, the judge proclaimed that it was not the amount Rawle had embezzled so much as the long course of his dishonesty, having been ‘a man of some position and trust in the service of Coalbrookdale’. Rawle was sentenced to prison for 12 months, with hard labour. After completing his sentence, and spending a brief period of time in Warwickshire, Rawle moved to Canada and started a new life as a farmer. 




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Frederick Rich, Accountant


Rich was born in Rufford, Nottinghamshire, in 1848. Rich changed jobs several times at the ironworks, being described as a ‘storekeeper in ironworks’, ‘foundry manager (assistant), and ‘accountant in ironworks’ in the census records. He spent the longest amount of time as an accountant, likely over 30 years. Rich was a witness in the Rawle embezzlement case.