29th Jan, 2020

City’s history in the pipeline

Rob George 15th Sep, 2019

THE INDUSTRIAL past of one of Worcester’s most popular parks is set to be uncovered when archaeologists set out to dig up the remains of a clay pipe factory.

From Monday (September 16) a team will be onsite at the Green Flag-winning Cripplegate Park in the heart of the city, digging to unearth the kiln where the Russell Pipe Manufactory produced smoking pipes for more than 50 years.

Worcester City Council is working with amateur archaeologists and specialists to unearth the remnants of one of the city’s lesser known industries.

Visitors and residents will be able to watch the team in action during the week and also visit next Saturday (September 21) for an open day when they can see some of the team’s finds and listen to talks from experts.

Sheena Payne-Lunn, historic environment record officer at the City Council, said: “Worcester’s ceramics and glove-making industries are very well known but fewer people realise our city was also a centre for pipe-making, attracting specialist pipe-makers from across the country

“Pipes were made here on a small scale from the 17th century onwards, but the industry continued to grow until the 19th century when we know there were at least three manufacturers in the city, the largest of which was the Cripplegate works.

“People up and down the country were often to be seen smoking Russell pipes. Many Worcester residents will have seen these pipes and may even have found the remains of them in their gardens.

“The Russell kiln was located off Tybridge Street and was founded by John Russell, an entrepreneur from Broseley, who married a local woman. He is believed to have built a row of 20 houses, Russell Terrace that once extended into what is now Cripplegate Park, where many of the kiln’s workers lived.

“Thanks to historic maps we know exactly where the kiln was located, close to the children’s play area and the Sons of Rest pavilion. This dig will help us rediscover a largely forgotten part of Worcester’s history.”

The dig takes place at Cripplegate Park Monday to Friday next week (September 16 to 20) from 10am to 3pm each day. Follow the dig @WorCityHeritage on Twitter and @WorcesterCityHeritage on Instagram.

The open day will take place from 10am to 3pm when visitors can see finds from the dig and enjoy informative talks about the history of the site and the city’s pipe industry.

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