The Iron Duke calender machine

Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire

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The Iron Duke calender machine
 
One of the first applications of the vulcanisation of rubber process in Bradford on Avon was in bonding rubber to a woven cloth reinforcement to make waterproof sheeting. This required the two materials to be accurately squeezed between heated rollers at high pressure. A big machine, called a calender, was designed for this purpose in America and was built in England for the Kingston Mill factory in 1849 and became known as “The Iron Duke“, named after the Duke of Wellington. Its frames were cast by the Bush company in Bristol and the three rollers, each weighing three tons, were made to a mirror-finish in Bilston in Staffordshire. Some parts were made at the famous Coalbrookdale works in Shropshire; other cast and wrought iron parts may have been made here in Bradford.

Before the old Kingston Mill was demolished by the Avon Company in 1972, the machine was removed to the recently established Bristol Industrial Museum under [Sir] Neil Cossons. Bristol City Museums at that time were collecting industrial archaeology across the West region of England. The Duke was stored, in several large parts, in the museum (and in other premises for a while). Following a change in Bristol’s collecting policy to focus only on the city, it was thought that it is more relevant to Bradford than to Bristol and it has now been returned to the town by Bradford on Avon Museum, the Bradford on Avon Preservation Trust and Bradford on Avon Community Area Network and can be seen in Kingston Road.

 

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