During the construction of the Peterborough to Northampton railway line, ironstone was discovered in the Nene Valley. Samples of this were taken to the Great Exhibition in London and mining began across Northamptonshire.
It was the Ebbw Vale Mining Company opened the first underground ironstone mine in Irthlingborough. Following the outbreak of the First World War, they decided that they needed to secure a source of iron ore closer to home and in 1916, mining began. During the war years, 6000 tons of ore were produced every week.
Once the iron ore had been processed, it was loaded into wagons and transported to the Ebbw Vale in South Wales via the nearby railway.
The giant smelting towers were a familiar landmark to local people and local street names, such as Ebbw Vale Road, still hint at Irthlingborough’s industrial past.