About HMS

We are a dynamic and exciting international forum for the exchange of information and research in historical metallurgy. For over fifty years we have covered all aspects of the history of metals and associated materials from prehistory to the present. Our members’ interests range from processes and production through to technology and economics, in a range of specialisms including historical research,  archaeology and conservation. It aims to gain recognition for the subject from the community at large and to be consulted when issues of preservation and recording arise.

The Historical Metallurgy Society Ltd is a Company limited by Guarantee (No 01442508) and a registered charity (No. 279314) Our registered office address is Linden House, Eridge Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN4 8HH.

The History of HMS

The Historical Metallurgy Society (HMS) was founded in 1962 as the Historical Metallurgy Group (HMG), and the interests of its early members can be judged by the events that led to its foundation. It all started with an article by Reg Morton about Duddon blast furnace in the Journal of the Iron and Steel Institute late in 1961, which suggested it should be taken over as a National Monument to mark the centenary of its ‘retirement’ in 1862. A year later a letter in the JISI, from two industrial metallurgists, R C Benson and W I Pumphrey, and R F Tylecote of King’s College, Newcastle upon Tyne, welcomed Morton’s suggestion and said:  ‘We obviously need for this purpose some sort of metallurgical preservation society.’

The HMG thus started out with a very particular metallurgical agenda that focussed closely on recording extant blast furnaces in Britain. It is therefore not surprising that most of the early notes and articles that were published concerned blast furnaces. The first issue of the HMG Bulletin that appeared in 1963, edited by Ronnie Tylecote, was only eight duplicated and stapled pages, though six issues later there were 71 pages and a few line drawings too. However, even in these early issues there were pieces about the Roman iron industry, medieval bloomeries, a transcribed late-16th century document describing a chafery and hammer mill, and non-ferrous metallurgy too: tin and copper smelting in Cornwall and the metallography of Bronze Age artefacts. In 1974 the HMG became the Historical Metallurgy Society and the HMG Bulletin became the Journal of the Historical Metallurgy Society, sub-titled Historical Metallurgy – the name by which it is now generally known. In addition to its Journal, HMS started publishing a newsletter in 1976 which has developed into The Crucible, appearing regularly three times a year.

The first HMG conference was held in Wolverhampton in 1965 – with iron as its theme – and in 1969 the first non-ferrous meeting was held in Penzance. Formal photos of all participants were taken each year, and one from 1969 appeared on the cover of Vol 35(1) of the Journal. Most conferences have been in Britain but one was held in Dublin in 2007 and previously in 2004 there was an optional expedition to Normandy attached to the Portsmouth conference. As well as annual conferences there have been a range of one-day and weekend meetings, including those organised by HMS Committees or jointly with other bodies, and the proceedings of some of these have become Occasional Publications.

The Society has evolved over the years and has gradually developed a much more international flavour – which can be seen in the topics we talk about, our membership and the nationalities of those coming to meetings or writing for the Journal and Newsletter. We’ve recently celebrated our 50th anniversary and are planning to continue providing a focus for archaeometallurgical interests world-wide for many years ahead.