Hampshire may not have slag heaps, coal-mines and blast furnaces but after the pioneering work of ironmaster Henry Cort at Fontley, near Fareham, and others moved north, industrial ingenuity did not in any way desert the county. The dockyard at Portsmouth, the docks at Southampton and all around the Solent became a hotbed of invention and production throughout the last two centuries, with a host of ‘firsts’.

Many parts of the country might rest on its laurels with such things as the Spitfire and the hovercraft – even the Gosport Tube! - but elsewhere in Hampshire there are many examples of ground-breaking industry that has often been lost to view. And then there is Farnborough, an aviation legend. Fortunately, the stories of many of these enterprises are preserved in the archives.

In many places, a foundry grew up alongside the traditional blacksmith, where metals were melted and poured into moulds for use in making machines, especially those required by farmers. A search of the Hampshire Record Office archives yields information on a large number of ironworks in the county. One of the most successful was Taskers at the Waterloo Ironworks in the Anna Valley, near Andover. Founded by the son of blacksmith it started with relatively straightforward projects, like the iron bridge of 1843 at Upper Clatford that still spans the River Anton. Later the company specialised in bespoke steam vehicles including the ‘Little Giant’ and in WWII built trailers for fighter aircraft.

Elsewhere, in Basingstoke, the firms of Wallis & Steevens and later the Thorneycroft Steam Carriage and Van Company produced a wide range of vehicles in peacetime and at war. The Milestones Museum in the town and the archives of the Hampshire Cultural Trust offer rich pickings for enthusiasts.

There were many other smaller ironworks, like the one at, Kingsley, near Alton, which developed a prize hop-bagging machine and the Test Valley Ironworks, lodged in a former temperance hall. And there were others at Finchdean, near Rowlands Castle, Ringwood and Droxford. One with the longest history of ironmaking that continued at least until 1820 was at Sowley on the Beaulieu Manor. On Church Green, Kings Worthy, stands an example of a hydraulic ram, for pumping water uphill, developed at the village’s Vulcan Ironworks and exported around the world.

The railway was a great stimulus to industry and meant that places like Eastleigh became major centres of railway engineering, whilst better transport links transformed the ‘old cloth town’ of Basingstoke. One of its great success stories is that of Thomas Burberry, who bought a draper’s shop there in 1856. He realised that working people needed waterproofs that breathed and so he experimented to produce a cloth that did the job. This led to Gaberdene and an industry that eventually outgrew Hampshire and went upmarket to the ‘huntin’, fishin’ and ridin’ set. Burberry was one of those entrepreneurs who realised that a brand was worth more than a factory. He sold the latter, but held on to the former and eventually had an HQ in London and offices in Paris, New York, Buenos Aires and Montevideo.

Much more on Hampshire’s industrial heritage is at: www.hampshirearchivestrust.co.uk, and www.hampshireculture.org.uk, and in the Journal of the Hampshire Industrial Archaeology Society, which for the past 60 years has patiently recorded much more of the county’s claim vis-a-vis the North!