An ironworks or iron works is a building or site where iron is smelted and where heavy iron and/or steel products are made. The term is both singular and plural, i.e. the plural of ironworks is ironworks.

An integrated ironworks in the 19th century usually included one or more blast furnaces and a number of puddling furnaces and/or a foundry with or without other kinds of ironworks.

The processes carried at ironworks are usually described as ferrous metallurgy, but the term siderurgy is also occasionally used. This is derived from the Greek words sideros - iron and ergon or ergos - work. This is an unusual term in English, and it is best regarded as an anglicisation of a term used in French, Spanish, and other Romance languages.

Varieties of Ironworks

Primary Ironmaking

Ironworks is used as an omnibus term covering works undertaking one or more iron-producing processes. Such processes or species of ironworks where they were undertaken include the following (the detailed articles on each process should be consulted) or alternatively the History of Ferrous Metallurgy:

Modern Steelmaking

From the 1850s, pig iron might be partly decarburised to produce mild steel using one of the following:

For this period see History of the modern steel industry and Steelmaking.

Further processing

After bar iron had been produced in a finery forge or in the forge train of a rolling mill, it might undergo further processes in one of the following:


Most of these processes did not produce finished goods. Further processes were often manual, including

In the context of the iron industry, the term manufacture is best reserved for this final stage.

Particularly notable ironworks

Great Britain

United States of America

Czech Republic


Ironworks in Popular Culture

  • In the computer game Civilization IV, the ironworks is a national wonder that greatly increases the production of the city that it is built in which has access to coal and iron.
  • Ironworks is also the name of a live music venue in Inverness, Scotland

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