It took hundreds of workers to produce iron, although only a few actually worked at the furnace. Fillers dumped carts or ore, charcoal and limestone into the seething tunnel head. The founder, assisted by a keeper, ordered ingredients, determined the amount of air to be blasted into the furnace and decided when to draw off the iron, usually every 12 hours. Guttermen directed molted iron into the sandy, cast house floor. Some furnaces employed moulders to make castings for iron stoves and utensils.
Away from the furnace, woodchoppers harvested wood necessary for the colliers to make charcoal. Miner dug the iron ore and quarried limestone. Teamsters hauled wagons of wood, charcoal, iron ore and pig iron. A bookkeeper kept company accounts, and a host of laborers and their families completed the unskilled jobs that kept both furnace and nearby village operating.
Main illustration - 19th century furnace workers