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Industrial Biography – The Black Country Chapters – Samuel Smiles
Samuel Smiles’ Industrial Biography - Iron Workers and Tool Makers was first published in 1863. In this volume are the chapters on the lives of Dud Dudley and Andrew Yarranton which will be of particular interest to anyone with an interest in Black Country history. That Dud Dudley claimed to have invented the means of smelting iron from sea coal is fairly widely known. Details of his life are more obscure. His capture by parliamentarians during the civil war, and his daring escape on the eve of his scheduled execution are described here. Andrew Yarranton was an iron founder who set up a furnace using Forest of Dean ironstone at Worcester, a project only possible because of the river Severn, but he is best remembered as a navigation engineer. He saw the potential in making the Stour navigable down to the Severn to in effect open up the Black Country. His project ultimately failed and it was a hundred years before the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal made a water connection to the region a reality. Andrew Yaranton’s life and visionary endeavours are described in detail.