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Wheelwright's workshop and tyre oven

A Grade II Listed Building in Horncastle, Lincolnshire

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Latitude: 53.207 / 53°12'25"N

Longitude: -0.1109 / 0°6'39"W

OS Eastings: 526267

OS Northings: 369436

OS Grid: TF262694

Mapcode National: GBR JSG.W8Q

Mapcode Global: WHHKJ.8NG9

Entry Name: Wheelwright's workshop and tyre oven

Listing Date: 4 January 2013

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1410080

Location: Horncastle, East Lindsey, Lincolnshire, LN9

County: Lincolnshire

District: East Lindsey

Civil Parish: Horncastle

Built-Up Area: Horncastle

Traditional County: Lincolnshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Lincolnshire

Church of England Parish: Horncastle Group

Church of England Diocese: Lincoln

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A wheelwrights shop and tyre oven, mid-late C19 with some C20 alterations, incorporating blacksmith's and carpenter's workshops and cartshed. All structures are built of brick, the workshops and cartshed with pantiled roofs


PLAN: two workshops and the cartshed form a continuous line to the north of the yard, the workshops of approximately equal size, the cartshed longer. The tyre oven is opposite, towards the west end of the yard and against the wall of the neighbouring property to the south.

EXTERIOR: the range of two workshops and cartshed to the north is single storeyed, with pantiled roofs, the gable end facing the street with two closely spaced windows, boarded over, under segmental brick arches, above which is a sign painted directly onto the brickwork, black lettering on a white background with the name of the early-C20 owner, C TWELL, and beneath that the word WHEELWRIGHT. The carpenters workshop to the west has wide double doors, to the east of which is an iron-framed window with 25 lights under a segmental brick arch, the six central panes opening upwards, with a metal catch at the bottom. To the east of this is a modern wooden casement. The central blacksmiths workshop has wide, double doors of unequal width, flanked by three-part casement windows with top openings to the central frame. The cartshed has three openings, reduced in width with brickwork panels between, each opening containing glazed double doors flanked by glass panels.

On the ground immediately to the south of the carpenters workshop is a circular metal cover over a well. Opposite, on the south side of the yard, is the tyre oven, a brick structure with central tapering square sectioned chimney, about 5.6m high, to the north and south of which are lower sections, the oven, with pitched cement and brick and cement caps. To the north, the front oven section, the metal door to the oven has two separately opening upper and lower parts. The front of the oven is broader than the body and chimney stack, its corners chamfered; the brickwork is scorched.

INTERIOR: the roof structures throughout are of sawn timber, with widely spaced tie beams and collars supporting purlins. The carpenters workshop has an earth floor. The two metal framed west windows, visible only from the inside, are similar to that to the south. Apparently fixed features include a work-bench to the west, next to which is a low, broad stool, large enough to support a wheel. Implements hang on the walls, including two long, double handed saws.

A narrow plank and batten door connects the carpenters workshop to the central blacksmiths workshop, at the west end of which is a forge, the hearth partially dismantled and the bricks stacked to one side. The hood and stack survive, the former with a segmental brick arch over the opening, below which is the nozzle of the bellows. Above the nozzle is a small domed metal plaque bearing an embossed full heraldic achievement, although too indistinct to determine the exact detail. On the bellows side of the forge, a water tank set into the brick work seems to have cooled the air as it passed through the nozzle from the forge. Projecting from the side of the stack is a narrow brick pillar containing two niches, apparently for storing small tools. The other main fixture associated with the tyre making process is an overhead file, suspended from a rafter and tie beam. A curious feature on the south wall, to the east of the door, is a raised irregular band with an uneven surface said to have been created by years of paint brushes being cleaned against the wall. Set in the wall between the carpenters workshop and cartshed is a low rectangular opening, infilled, said to have formed the opening above a sawpit. The blacksmiths shop has a brick floor.

The cartshed is now in domestic use, with a bar at the east end.

The doors to the tyre oven open onto a narrow space capable of holding two tyres, with two niches in the back wall above the floor. The hearth survives, with cast iron grid in place.


According to the Horncastle census of 1851, Matthew Scaman, wheelwright, his wife and five children aged under 11, and his 17 year old apprentice, were then all living in Foundry Street, the family having moved there about six years before from Miningsby, a tiny settlement about five miles to the south-east. The terraces of Foundry Street will have been part of Horncastle's early C19 expansion, accommodating a population that more than doubled in size in the first half of the century, and it seems probable that the wheelwright's business was a newly established concern in the mid 1840s. Matthew Scaman's son, also Matthew, continued the business, selling it in 1925 to Charles Twell, whose name and trade are painted above the windows of the street-side gable-end of the workshop. Mr Twell retired in 1948, by which time there would have been little demand for metal-tyred cart wheels, and the business closed.

The three units that form the surviving carpenter's and smith's workshops and cartshed are present on the historic Ordnance Survey (OS) Maps of 1889, but the tyre oven is not shown until 1906, suggesting improvements had been made in the manufacturing process in the late C19. The tyre oven allowed two tyres to be heated at the same time, in a more controlled manner than on a traditional open hearth in the yard, before being fixed to wheels, thereby introducing greater efficiency and increasing productivity. Surviving fixed tools in the workshops include a large, slightly bent or curved, overhead metal file in the smithy (although the mechanism for turning the finished wheel for filing no longer exists), while alterations or losses include the partial demolition of the forge brickwork, and the conversion of the cartshed for domestic use. The wide openings of this, visible on a historic photograph of about 1907, have been glazed and the original posts dividing the three bays encased in brick. There is also said to have been a sawpit between the smithy and cartshed, since filled in (two double-handed saws remain hanging in the carpenter's shop).

The yard had been converted to a tree-filled garden, but has been returned to its original open space, with the tyre oven to the south side. The flat metal wheel-clamp, used for fitting the tyres to the cart wheels, has been removed, but to the north side of the yard is a metal-plate covered well, the water from which was used to cool and shrink the tyres onto the wheel.

Reasons for Listing

The wheelwright's workshop and tyre oven at 45 Foundry Street are designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: this is an example of an early to mid C19 wheelwright's business that demonstrates late-C19 innovation and increased efficiency in small scale rural manufacturing;
* Intactness: the workshops consist of the full range needed for the wheelwright's trade. Their form fully reflects their function, and significant features survive.
* Completeness: apart from the loss of the wheel clamp, a complete ensemble of structures from the early-to-late C19 survives within an open yard, allowing the process of manufacture of cart wheels to be fully read and understood;
* Rarity: the tyre oven is a rare survival, particularly in association with the complete structures of an existing wheelwright's business.

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