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BAPTIST MILLS BRASSWORKS (1702 - 1814)

The Brassworks was founded by a Quaker, Abraham Darby I (1678-1717) in 1702. Powered by water from the River Frome it soon became one of Bristol's largest industrial sites. Dutch brassworkers were employed to make hollow-ware, (pots, pans, plates and iron-handled buckets), using battery-hammered brass slabs cast in stone moulds. These were sold for domestic use and for export to British colonies overseas, (America, Canada and later to Australia etc).

A major discovery was the use of coal instead of charcoal for smelting Brass. After experiments here and at Cheese Lane, Bristol, Darby I left for Coalbrookdale (1708-09) to smelt iron with coke which led to the industrial revolution. The Brass Industry expanded rapidly, employing thousands over 250 years and some rival companies including W Champion's Warmley works (closed 1769) also made some of its items (Brass guinea kettles, pans, copper manillas and rods etc). for African barter in the Bristol Slave Trade. It is probable that Baptist Mills did not take part directly as many Quakers were opposed to Slavery. After 1781 Birmingham-made Brass overtook Bristol and by 1814 Baptist Mills had closed. The site later became White's Potteries, a tannery and housing.

Baptist Mills Brassworks Time Sign

Scene c1734 by M J Baker. Unveiled in 2007.