The village is famous for the Wortley Top Forge, which dates back to the time of the Industrial Revolution, but is most famous for the notorious highwayman Swift Nick (John Nevison, 1639 - 1684) who was born and raised there. It was really he (and not Dick Turpin) who made the infamous ride on horseback from London to York in order to establish an alibi for a robbery. Until 1987, Wortley was home to the Earl of Wharncliffe. Wortley Top Forge is an historic former finery forge and ironworks originally dating back to the seventeenth century. The Top Forge was always closely related to Wortley Low Forge, a short distance downstream. One of the forges was probably built about 1639 (possibly both of them) and certainly existed by 1641. Cannonballs are said to have been made here during the English Civil War. One of the buildings at Top Forge includes a date stone for 1713. However, the current layout of the building dates from the 1850s when the forge was turned over to the production of shafts and axles mainly for use on railway wagons. Some of the earliest metallurgical experiments in the world were conducted at the site by the engineer and metallurgist Thomas Andrews. Railway axles of the highest quality were manufactured at the site in the nineteenth century and exported all over the world. Production ceased around 1912, but parts of the site remained in use until 1929. One of the 'Top Forge' hammers was run as a demonstration in 1933 or 1934. In 1955 the forge reopened as an Industrial Museum by Sheffield Trades Historical Society (now South Yorkshire Industrial History Society). Since the mid 1960s the Honorary Curator of the forge for over 40 years was Ken Hawley, who was the driving force behind a team of volunteer workers who preserved and restored the forge into its present condition – work that was recognised when he was appointed MBE in 1998. Of particular interest is that the site only ever used waterwheels to power the machinery. All three waterwheels have been restored to working order Its buildings are used to house a variety of industrial machinery, including a Marshall twin-cylinder engine steam engine. Wortley is home to Wortley Mens Club, the winner of the campaign for real ales (CAMRA) club of the year 2014 for the entire Yorkshire region and subsequent super regional winner for the North East, making it one of the best 4 Clubs in the UK. It has now been voted the best club in Britain by CAMRA for 2015 beating 28,000 other entrants. It hosts a variety of events including an annual charity beer festival held on or around 1 August every year to coincide with Yorkshire day.
Wednesday 19th June 2019