Story: Taranaki region

Ironsand blast furnace

Ironsand blast furnace

This ironsand smelter at Te Hēnui, near New Plymouth, was built in 1874 by Edward Metcalf Smith. Smith doggedly overcame clogging problems, first by manufacturing an artificial ore. Test castings of his iron produced rail wagon wheels, rifle parts, tools, and two ornamental plates showing Napoleon crossing the Alps. The first successful smelting took place in 1876.

In 1883, however, operations ended abruptly when the metal cooled in the furnace. In the 1990s house-building on the site unearthed the 10-tonne block of steel, complete with embedded bricks, from this unfortunate accident.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: 1/2-017038; F

Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Ron Lambert, 'Taranaki region - Energy and ironsands', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 26 September 2023)

Story by Ron Lambert, updated 1 Aug 2015