The Waterloo Ironworks
In Anna Valley, a mile away from the forge there was an unproductive piece of land called Clatford Marsh. Nearby was a chalk pit, and in another mile the road to Andover turned left and crossed the Andover-Redbridge Canal.
The earliest surviving photograph of the Waterloo Ironworks, c1860.
To Robert Tasker this meant cheap land that could be reclaimed using chalk, and a full-scale ironworks fed with coke and iron brought by barge from Southampton. Best of all, through the middle of Anna Valley flowed a stream, the Pillhill Brook, that could be used to drive a waterwheel, which in turn would power bellows and a lathe.
Robert Tasker had been joined by his younger brother, William. Perhaps he sent for him so that they could create the new ironworks together. It is not known exactly when work in Anna Valley began. A cast-iron plaque, which gives the year 1813, may refer to the earlier foundry at Abbotts Ann. What is certain is that the name, the Waterloo Ironworks, must have come later than the battle of 1815 which it commemorates.
What did the Taskers make?
Their early billheads mention ploughshares, complete ploughs, iron tyres, gates, railings, garden rollers, cooking stoves & seed drills. To that list could be added feed troughs, signposts and even window frames. Some of the earliest Tasker products to survive are the door knockers from houses built by Tasker for their workforce.
There was no second generation to share the load with his brother. Robert and his wife had no children and, at the time, William's eldest was only six. The partnership that William entered into with George Fowle (a relative of Robert's wife, Martha) continued until 1857, when his first two children, both boys, were ready to take responsibility for the firm themselves.
In the mid-1830s, the brothers themselves moved into Anna Valley. A large house called Brookside was built for William at one end of the site, and another, known as Clatford Lodge, housed Robert at the other end.
In 1836, when he was only just over fifty, Robert Tasker chose to end his active role in the business. It is not known why, but it has been suggested that he wanted to spend more time on religious and charitable work.
There are still a few small cast-iron bridges in use, constructed by Tasker & Fowle. One was made in 1843 to take the road over the River Anton in Upper Clatford. Another, which crosses the current Micheldever Road in Andover, is a footbridge dated 1851 (right). It carries a footpath called the Ladies' Walk, and became necessary after a road was cut across the line of the path in the direction of Micheldever station.
Workers cottages: Anna Valley Place in about 1904
'Brookside', the house built in Anna Valley for William Tasker
The Ladies' Walk Bridge