Industry, Places.

Whitchurch Mile Marker.

Mile Marker as rediscovered by Tom Dudziec in March this year.

Restored by WAGLHS.

In March Tom Dudziec came across this old mile marker tucked in amongst the weeds on the hillside on the road to Crockers Ash just before B & G Land Rovers old premises. As you can see it had been damaged at sometime and repaired by bolting the broken bits back together. Our plan was to give it a bit of restoration.

We wondered how old it was. The casting bears the name of the manufacturer in Ross. My web browser found Perkins and Bellamy straight away. The foundry operated from 1850 until 1900 which gives a rough idea of the markers age.

Here is some more information of this once busy company that manufactured almost anything in iron and steel.

Perkins and Bellamy Foundry (manufacturer of the Crockers Ash Milestone).

Perkins and Bellamy was on of the main foundries in Ross-on-Wye from 1850 until it closed in 1900. It was located in Broad Street (Nottingham House) in the building that used to house Peacocks. The firm also used the surrounding buildings, for example the building on the opposite corner and back into Crofts. This is why Crofts used to have the nickname of ‘Bellamy’s Lane’. 

It must have been quite an important employer for the area as it employed around 70 men and boys. It is very likely that the men working in the foundry lived in the Crofts and along Crofts Lane. The Crofts were renovated around the 1970’s as the buildings had fallen into a very poor state of repair and only one house was still occupied at that time. The roofs were replaced among other modernisations, making the properties into desirable houses.

The foundry had its own private electric light plant which was before the rest of the town had this luxury.

Perkins and Bellamy produced a wide range of products from agricultural equipment, including complete Barn kits, to drain covers and water channels to household goods. They classified themselves under a number of headings and these included Agricultural Implement Manufacturers, Agricultural Implement Dealers, Agricultural Engineers, Iron and Brass Founders, Iron Merchants and Ironmongers and along with this they also had expertise as Gas fitters, Locksmiths and Bell hangers, Oil and Colour Men and Tin-plate Workers showing that they had a broad range of interests and skills.

You can still see the company’s work both around Ross and in the surrounding area. Hence the milestone near Crockers Ash is from Perkins and Bellamy . Around Ross you can find the foundry’s work in the form of cellar covers, rain water gullies and kissing gates.

Crockers Ash Milestone

Once the Perkins and Bellamy foundry closed, the building was empty for a while but during the First World War it was used as a jam factory and, of course, now the buildings are all retail sites.

However, Perkins and Bellamy was not the first foundry in Ross. Kells Foundry was started in 1838 by Mr Kell. He was a farmer with an interest in engineering and established his foundry and agricultural implement factory at Brookend in 1838. By 1856 it had been sufficiently successful to enable the opening of a new premises in Gloucester. The Ross-on-Wye factory closed during World War I. The buildings which housed the factory are opposite Brook House (where Mr Kell lived) at the corner of Mill Pond Street.

The web site Herefordshire Through Time states that in the whole of Herefordshire there were only four post medieval foundries: one at Kington and one in Hereford as well as the two in Ross-On-Wye. All the foundries are believed to have closed around the end of the 19th century/early in the 20th century. However, there seems to have been two other foundries in Ross one called Nichols and Sons and one called Blakes. In addition there were a number of shops that had small foundries where they could make small items to sell in their shops. It is almost as though Ross was a centre for Iron Foundries.

For further information on Perkins and Bellamy and a number of photos go to:

Text by Sally Yeshin.

Photos by Peter Hunt.

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