This walk takes you on a circular route around Vobster, Halecombe & Whatley quarries, taking in much of the area's rich iron founding history along the Wadbury Valley, below is a short summary of the iron founding history..
In 1774 James Fussell the 3rd founded the dynasty of master iron workers that lasted 150 years, they produced the finest edge tools in the country, their products included scythes, sickles, spades, shovels & other agricultural implements. The 1880’s catalogue listed 111 products, by the turn of the century the company was exporting their tools to Europe & America.
In its heyday they employed over 250 people.
The upper works was the first ironworks owned by the Fussell's, by the early 19th century the Fussell's where running 6 ironworks, 3 of which were along Mells river between Great Elm & Mells, the ruins of the lower works is probably the only example left of an edge tool ironworks in the country, little is known about the works as all records have been lost,
Water was the main source of power for the tilt hammers, grinding shops & various other machinery, there were 9 water wheels at the lower works site, the skeletal remains of one is still visible in one of the grinding shops, in the 1860 steam was finally used on site to compliment the water power, not to replace it as it was a cheap form of power. In the late 1800’s a large steam powered beam engine was installed in the lower works to power a steel rolling mill that spanned the river at the downstream end of the works, this was to try and bolster the failing company & compete with steel mills in the Midlands, but the dynasty came to an end when production finally ceased in 1895 because of financial difficulties.
In the local area there are 3 mansions that have been the homes of the Fussell's, Wadbury house, Nunnery Court & The Chantry.
Links for more photos, videos & information:
Roadside parking at Great Elms by the mill pond on Elm Lane.
Starting at Great Elms by the mill pond above the Mells Edge Tool Works, this trail follows the river path to Mells, then heads around Vosper Quarry, Halecombe Quarry, Whatley Quarry before returning to great Elms.
Points of interest on route:
Great Elms mill pond
Fussell's Lower iron works
Fussell's upper Iron works
Mells river sink
Places to stop for refreshments on route:
The Talbot Inn Mells.
The Walled Garden Mells.
Generally on good paths, with some slightly muddy sections & narrow slightly overgrown footpaths.
Book recommendations for this region: