The most complete charcoal-fuelled ironworks in Britain, Bonawe was founded in 1753 by Cumbrian iron masters who were attracted by the industrial potential of Argyll’s woodlands. Bonawe Iron Furnace is situated in a spectacular setting at the head of Loch Etive which extends up towards the dramatic Glen Coe.

At its height the furnace produced up to 700 tons of pig iron from Cumbrian ore annually which was cast into everything from cannonballs during the Napoleonic War to iron pigs for export and even the first monument erected to Admiral Nelson after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

A detailed and informative exhibition charts the development of the furnace up until its closure in 1876 and explains the chemistry behind iron making. Today visitors can see inside the charcoal sheds – immense, cathedral-like structures – and admire the remarkably complete furnace.



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Founded: 1753
Category: Industrial sites in United Kingdom


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Tim Gardner (2 years ago)
An interesting part of the area's history, with really well - preserved buildings. The staff member looking after the site was fantastic - very friendly and informative.
John Brown (2 years ago)
Pleasant and informative staff.
Prabhakar Chelliah (2 years ago)
A visit to this historic place is a must if you are in Oban. The site has been preserved very well. To top it, we received an in depth explanation from the officer in charge on what to expect during our visit. The museum also had extensive explanations on the extraction of iron, and how the iron was used in the production of cannons and artilleries for the Battle of Trafalgar.
Geoff Phillips (2 years ago)
Interesting visit for history of Industrial Revolution
Kim Waddup (3 years ago)
Currently closed, but managed to walk around anyway. Very good.
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