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Black Heart: The History of Ley's Malleable Castings in Derby - The Family and the Foundry

Bob Read

For over 113 years Ley’s Malleable Castings was at the heart of Derby’s industrial life. A family firm despite its large size – at one time it was the largest foundry of its kind in Europe – the company was presided over by four generations of the Ley family between 1873 and 1987.

Both the family and the foundry were embedded in the history of Derby and their legacies can still be seen in the city today. The Baseball Ground, built by Sir Francis Ley as a home for the game of baseball, was sold by him to Derby County FC and has only recently been demolished. Remnants of the factory buildings and offices, which once covered an area of over 17 acres, can still be seen in Derby streets.

Bob Read, a former employee of Ley’s, has put together a fascinating survey of the history of the foundry and its importance in Derby’s industrial history. He has trawled the archives to uncover a wealth of historical detail, and his account of the firm’s fortunes is lavishly illustrated with drawings, photographs and ephemera that bring life to his story of a business that was part of Derby life for over a century. His book is sure to appeal to anyone who worked at the factory, or their relatives, as well as to all those with an interest in local or industrial history.




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