Beckley Furnace Industrial Monument
One of three such arches, this opening was used to route hot blast air to the furnace. Simulated piping has been installed in this arch to show how it could have looked when the furnace was in operation. Basically the piping consists of a main pipe from the oven. Because the oven was usually located on top of the furnace this pipe was called the "downcomer".
Here at Beckley the oven was located on the hill to the east of the furnace stack and the downcomer entered the furnace via the east arch. The downcomer fed a semicircular horizontal pipe called the "bustle pipe" that carried the air to each tuyere arch. The simulated piping here shows the end of the bustle pipe entering from the right. Since the temperature of the blast air was about 800 degrees this arch would not have been a comfortable place to be when the furnace was in operation.
During the life of this furnace different arrangements of tuyeres were used. It is likely that only a single tuyere was included in the original 1847 design. The single tuyere arrangement is the one shown by the simulated piping in the arch.
At a later time this furnace had a total of 5 tuyeres. At that time there would have been two tuyeres in this arch and the arch opposite it and one in the large rear arch. While we do not exactly what the piping looked like for the later configuration, we have found some examples from other sites that show what the piping may have looked like.
This area was also the exhaust for a ventilation system under the hearth. This system allowed air to circulate and vented any gas or steam that might build up thus keeping the hearth cooler and preventing explosions. This ventilation system was discovered when the furnace was restored.