Record Details

NHER Number:55338
Type of record:Monument
Name:Site of Alfred Dodman and Company's Highgate Iron Works, Gaywood Road


An iron foundry was established by Alfred Dodman on Highgate Field in 1875. The firm undertook many types of engineering work but specialised in making boilers. The firm also produced a number of traction engines and at least two steam locomotives. After the Second World War the company focused on the design and manufacture of pressure vessels, heat exchangers and storage tanks, mainly for the petro-chemicals and North Sea industries. The buildings on the site were demolished in 1977 to make way for residential development.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TF 6246 2040
Map Sheet:TF62SW

Full description

Alfred Dodman was a prominent figure in King's Lynn's industrial scene. Starting up in 1854 he owned, co-owned and ran several foundries of increasing size until he was leased the site of Highgate Field and built a new foundry there in 1875. The firm mostly made 'land' boilers or the Cornish and Lancashire types but eventually branched out into locomotive, traction, portable and marine boilers and hardware. In the early 1900s they began making mining pumps, mill machinery, oil engines and cranes.
In 1902 Dodman's were contracted to make boilers for the army and navy. In 1905 they were also contracted by the Crown Agents for the Colonies.
Alfred Dodman died in 1908, however the firm continued, manufacturing for the army and admiralty throughout the First World War, and for the navy and RAF in the Second World War. After 1945 the company kept expanding, landing contracts in India and the Persian Gulf. To keep up with technology they moved away from steam and oil power and focused on building pressure machinery for and storage tanks for the petro-chemical and North Sea industries.
In 1972 the directors planned a move to a new site on the Hardwick Industrial Estate, however financial difficulties in 1975 marred this move and forced the company to shut down. The Highgate site was cleared in 1977 for present housing.
See (S1).
The site can be seen on (S2) as well as the 1946 RAF aerial photographic survey.
W. Arnold (HES), 8 March 2011.

The site was visited and recorded in 1975 by staff from King's Lynn Museum and members of NIAS. The foundry had been out of use since around 1945, and the railway sidings, which had been used both for the bringing in of raw materials and the despatch of some of the larger machinery, were also closed down. The works were stripped of machinery in 1976 and left derelict (S3). The company archive was deposited with King's Lynn Museum, which held an exhibition of this material in 1977/8 (S4).
A. Cattermole (King's Lynn UAD), 15 October 2018.

Monument Types

  • BOILER WORKS (19th Century to World War Two - 1875 AD? to 1945 AD?)
  • ENGINEERING WORKS (19th Century to Late 20th Century - 1875 AD to 1975 AD)
  • IRON FOUNDRY (19th Century to World War Two - 1875 AD to 1945 AD)
  • RAILWAY SIDING (19th Century to World War Two - 1875 AD? to 1945 AD?)
  • RAILWAY ENGINEERING WORKS (19th Century to World War One - 1893 AD? to 1915 AD?)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

<S1>Archive: NIAS. Norfolk Industrial Archaeology Society Records.
<S2>Map: Ordnance Survey. 1824-1836. Ordnance Survey First Edition 1 inch..
<S3>Article in Serial: Trett, R. and Tuck, D.W.. 1977. Alfred Dodman and Company of King's Lynn. Norfolk Archaeology. vol XXXVI, pp 373-382.
<S4>Newspaper Article: Eastern Daily Press. 1977. The engineer held in highest steam. 15 December.

Related records - none

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