A WORLD-FAMOUS industry dominated Warrington for more than a century.

And its name is still alive in Warrington today – decades after the factory closed.

In 1874 Frederick Monks, the wire-drawer, opened Warrington's second major ironworks on the north bank of the river at Atherton's Quay.

This eventually extended for almost a mile along the riverside, served not only by its own wharves (and its own vessels as well) but also by a network of sidings running off the Warrington-Widnes railway.

Monks went into partnership with his brother-in-law, William Hall, and, as Monks Hall & Co, the company eventually became one of the world's greatest producers of finished iron and steel, with forge mills, puddling furnaces, welding works, a tube works and a riveting plant.

Janice Hayes, in her book Warrington at Work, explains: "Thus, Warrington, not an obvious place for an iron industry, ever became one of Britain's leading centres in this essential sector of industrial output.

"Clearly the huge demand of local metal-working trades (and especially wire-working) was primarily responsible for this, but the presence of the Dallam and Monks Hall complexes itself created new industries.

"For example, the production of bedsteads, mattresses and cookers, each of which was a major employer in the town by 1900, was directly the result of the ready access to prepared wire coils and sheet iron.

"Monks Hall, in particular, serves as a reminder of the way that inter-relationships flourished be the different industries, each playing its part in maintaining economic growth.

"Life in the ironworks was famously hard. This was heavy industry in every sense, with fearsomely difficult manual labour, massive (and to modern rules acutely dangerous) machinery on a grand scale, intense heat, white-hot metal being poured from giant ladles, huge she girders being shifted around the works and loaded and unloaded from ships and wagons, often by human effort."

The Monks factory maintained its presence until the mid 1980s when it closed.