Thursday, 31 May 2012

Anchors Aweigh!

Last year theBBC ran an amazing and truly award-winning history programme on Radio 4. In  The History of The World in 100 Objects Neil MacGregor the Director of the British Museum illustrated the history of the world through 100 objects in fifteen-minute episodes,.
Monument in Tipton to the Anchor Makers

Further commemoration on a Tipton factory fence
One of these was a wooden pattern for an anchor casting which is in the Black Country Museum in Dudley.It is believed to be from either Joseph Wright of Tipton or Noah Hingley of Netherton. Anchor making was introduced to the Black country in the the mid 19th century when the said Noah Hingley branched out from small chain making. By the end of the century there were fourteen anchor casting foundries in the Black Country and their reputation was unequalled in the world.
One of the famous anchors made here in 1911 by N. Hingley & Sons was for the Titanic, which sank a year later.

I.K.Brunel & Gt Eastern chains
In 1867, G.H. Parkes of Tipton supplied an anchor for Brunel's steam ship, The Great Eastern. 

 There is some confusion  over the status of this anchor as it is recorded in some journals as a replacement. I have been unable to ascertain whether this is correct and, if so, why a replacement was required. Three possibilities come to mind. -1-On her maiden voyage there was an explosion  which killed five sailors and major repairs were required; -2- On her third voyage to USA she was caught in a gale and suffered considerable damage whilst temporary repairs wee required at sea to keep any control of the ship; -3- On a subsequent trip to New York  she hit a rock now known as Great Eastern Rock and was saved from sinking by her unique double skinned construction.  An anchor found in New York harbour since then has been claimed to belong to her but this has not been verified. 

The royal Yacht Britannia's anchor was also made at Brierley Hill by Samual Taylor.The last wrought iron anchor-maker in the Black Country, Isaiah Preston of Cradley Heath, closed in 1979 and some of the equipment is preserved at the Black Country Living Museum.

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