Exhibition: Tasker – Hampshire’s Little Giant, Andover Museum and Museum of the Iron Age, Andover, from June 18 2011
Across the rivers and roads surrounding the Andover Museum, a series of small cast-iron bridges are reminders of a once-mighty local powerhouse.
In the mid-19th century (the earliest photo of them dates from 1860) Robert Tasker built his Waterloo Iron Works in Anna Valley, a swathe of cheap land reclaimed with chalk to create a full-scale iron mill.
Barges from Southampton supplied the centre with coke and iron, and a perfectly-positioned stream, the Pillhill Brook, drove a waterwheel to power bellows and a lathe.
Ploughs, iron tyres, gates, railings, garden rollers, cooking stoves and seed drills were among its prolific production line, but perhaps the most eye-opening revelations in this intriguing snapshot of community history at the Andover Museum concerns working hours.
In the 1880s, workers would start at 6am and continue until 5pm or, even more exhaustively, stretch their shift to 7.30pm when they served overtime. Boys of just 13 were paid 15p a week, rising by 5p a week until the age of 21.
Other themes explored in the show include agriculture, the wartime exploits of the works and the lives of the Tasker family. Organisers are also hoping that a raft of images from the Hampshire Museum Service archives will help local residents to spot relatives who worked at the site.
- Open Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm (4pm Saturday). Admission free.