Industrial TONDU IRONWORKS, TONDU, BRIDGEND Since July 1996, Oxford Archaeological Unit has been carrying out a series of projects at Tondu ironworks, commissioned by Groundwork Bridgend. The site is of particular note because of its unique group of scheduled structures: engine house, lift tower, furnace bank wall, calcining kilns and three banks of beehive coking ovens all dating from c.1842 to 1895/6. The crumbling remains, which were completely derelict and largely lost in woodland in 1996, have been dubbed 'the best-preserved Victorian ironworks in Britain' and it has become Groundwork's mission to transform the site into a sustainable educational and recreational resource for the region. In-situ preservation Works to consolidate the visible scheduled structures have now been largely completed and archaeological investigation has allowed these multi-phased structures to be properly understood for the first time. Other works carried out during the last year have included the conversion of the scheduled blowing-engine houses into offices and the re-landscaping of areas of the site that had been covered with modern concrete floor slabs and piles of dumped waste. Every precaution has been taken to ensure that the landscaping works have had a minimal impact on the site's ironmaking heritage and levels were established that generally left surviving ironmaking period horizons buried and preserved in situ. Administration buildings and blowing engines In order to aid the interpretation of the site, the remains in three areas were chosen as exceptions to this strategy. Consequently, the foundations of a pair of large ironworks administration buildings, built c. 1860, were exposed and consolidated. Also the foundations of the original blowing engines have been fully exposed and recorded. Prior to their careful reburial beneath the floor of the new offices, two of the UK's leading specialists, Ken Brown and Dr Richard Hills, were commissioned to inspect the remains on site. By combining their specialist knowledge and the archaeological observations, a wealth of very detailed information was gleaned, regarding both the engines'
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