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Photography

Heavy Metal

This documentary photography gives an insight into the role of some of the people at Hargreaves iron foundry.

Iron is an element. To make castings with it, two additional compounds are required to aid the process; coke and limestone.

Hargreaves foundry has been making iron castings for over 130 years in Halifax, which was traditionally a tool making town. The process used now would still be recognisable to the Victorians.

“In the UK manufacturing was the most dominant industry in 1841 accounting for 36% of the workforce, followed closely by services at 33%. The expansion of services and decline in manufacturing meant that in 2011, 9% worked in manufacturing and 81% worked in services.” (Office for National Statistics)

They are what are known as a ‘jobbing foundry’ meaning they take on higher value large and small commissions of low volume or one off pieces. Because the job requires high levels of skill and there is a sense of pride in the castings they make. They work as a team, mindful of dangers to themselves and workmates, with the camaraderie extending beyond the ‘job’.

Despite previous downwards trend nationally – manufacturing is increasing, here and perhaps unsurprisingly, internationally. The sector is 10% of UK economy and contributes approximately £340 billion in sales.

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