Kirkstall nr Leeds in England was historically an important centre of industry. The area is best known for its Abbey originally founded by Cistercian monks. on the banks of the river Aire. The Village is now a district of Leeds.


The Kirkstall Forge lays claim to being the longest continually used industrial site in Britain founded in the 13th century by the Cistercian Monks of the abbey, and a number of printers. The earliest known activity on the site was a medieval mill race which supplied water to power the corn mill at Kirkstall Abbey. Iron production took place at the forge from the 1580s onwards.

During the late 18th century the reconstruction of the upper and lower forges by the Butler family allowed 'shovel and spade production' to commence in 1779. By 1824 the Kirkstall Forge Co established a branch warehouse in Bradford which was later acquired by John R. Cordingley and became Cordingley, Armstrong and Co. A railway was built at the forge in 1830 and sustained growth at the plant. listed as a Exhibitor at 1862 Exhibition.[1] The company built railway cranes. An restored example is on show at the factory.Photo here

The company in 1863 built a 1,250 tons Press - the largest ever made at the time as detailed in the London Science Museum. The firm was also a manufacturer of forged shafts for machinery and of forged steel billets.[2]

World War I brought about large scale growth, providing axles for military vehicles and by 1930 most lorries and buses made in the UK had a Kirkstall back axle casing. The Business has changed hands several times over the years but has been associated with forged axle casings for most of the 20th century.

In 1919 the Private company Kirkstall Forge Engineering Co. was founded to acquire the business carried on by Kirkstall Forge Co.[3] Most of the buildings were rebuilt and machine shops refitted in the 1930s, much of the machinery being specially designed for the company's purposes.[4] Contemporary adverts from 1937 were for Steel bars and drop forgings. "Kirkstall" Steel Bars and Drop Forgings.

Then in 1949 Kirkstall Forge Engineering Co. made a public limited company.[5] Directors announced the intent to transfer the steel bar department to a separate subsidiary. At the time the firm was reported as having about 1800 employees.

The Business was later taken over by GKN and became part of their drive lines division. Before being divested in the 1990s to the Dana Corporation.

In 2002 the owners of the site, the Dana Corporation announced the closure of the works, shifting production to India and Spain.[6]


  • Cranes
  • Engineering products
  • Forgings
    • Drive shafts & axles
    • Drop forged components
  • Steel billets

See alsoEdit

References / sourcesEdit

  1. 1862 London Exhibition: Catalogue: Class I.: Kirkstall Forge Co.
  2. Mechanical World Year Book 1905. Published by Emmott and Co of Manchester. Advert p38
  3. The Times, 7 June 1949
  4. Leeds industries - account in The_Basic_Industries_of_Great_Britain_by_Aberconway:_Chapter_VI
  5. The Times, 7 June 1949

External linksEdit

Smallwikipedialogo This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Kirkstall Forge. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons by Attribution License and/or GNU Free Documentation License. Please check page history for when the original article was copied to Wikia

Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses some content from Graces Guide. The original article was at Forge Kirkstall Forge. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Graces Guide is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.