Derwentcote Steel Furnace – Britain’s Oldest Surviving Steel Furnace

Derwentcote Steel Furnace is a 300 year old steel-making furnace making it one of the pioneers of Britain’s industrial revolution.

Derwentcote Steel Furnace is a relic from the earliest days of the Industrial Revolution. It was built in the 1730s to convert wrought iron into steel using a process known as cementation. It is the last surviving furnace of its kind in the north-east and the only intact and complete example in the UK.

The building, which is managed by English Heritage, can only be viewed from the outside but it is a pretty woodland setting and worth the effort. It was in use until 1891 following which it fell into disrepair until restored by English Heritage a century later. The roof tiles are obviously recent but the walls, conical chimney and steel furnace door have great character and look like originals.

You can read more about the cementation steel making process on English Heritage’s website.

Opening Hours & Admission Charges

Open daily during daylight hours.
Closed 24-26 December and 1 January.

Admission to the grounds is free.

Although there is normally no access to the inside of the building, a sign outside says access can be arranged for groups by appointment, please call 0191 269 1200.

How To Get to Derwentcote Steel Furnace

The exact location is marked on this map (it’s actually in County Durham, not Northumberland, but still within the scope of this blog):


Derwentcote Steel Furnace
Forge Lane, Hamsterley, Rowlands Gill NE17 7RS

Tel: 0191 261 1585

GPS: 54°54’11.3″N 1°47’53.2″W
54.903133, -1.798098


There is a carpark and picnic area a couple of minutes walk away on the opposite side of the A694 and is clearly signposted.

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