VM_365 Day 60 Iron plates and industrial agriculture

Circular iron plate with a story to tell
Circular iron plate with a story to tell

Thanet’s industrial heritage has been a relatively neglected subject, although it is increasingly obvious that more attention should be paid to the sites and artefacts associated with the industrialised agriculture of the 19th century.

A common site in many of the villages and towns of the area would have been a blacksmith, who would have been involved in manufacturing and repairing farm equipment as well as shoeing the many horses that provided transport and power.

We came across this round iron plate, nearly 1.5m in diameter on the site of an old blacksmith’s forge in St.Peters, Broadstairs. As it was not in our usual experience of archaeological artefacts we had to do some research to find out what it was.

The flat iron disc with a central hole turned out to be a hooping plate, used to fit iron hoops to the outside of wooden wagon wheels. The hub of the wheel would sit in the central hole and the hoop, which was expanded by heating it in the furnace, would be placed over the wooden rim and hammered into position against the hooping plate, which kept the wheel flat and firm. When the hoop was cooled it would tighten up around the wheel creating an iron tyre that would keep any heavily laden farm wagon going on the country lanes for another season.

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