1) Ultimately ‘tilt’ has its origin in a word that meant to overthrow or overturn, made familiar to us by scenes of combat in which mounted knights sought to unhorse their opponents. In iron working it was the name given to a heavy hammer used in forges: this was fixed on a pivot and acted upon by a cam-wheel which alternately tilted the hammer up and then let it drop (OED).

It is uncertain exactly when the word was first used in this sense but numerous references have been noted from the early 1700s. In 1733, for example, a partnership took a 21-year lease in order to set up a tilt forge not far from the Ponds in Sheffield and in 1736 Gosling’s map of Sheffield marked one Tilt Hammer in the Ponds and another further south: the first of these had already been recorded in a 1716-7 rate book. A writer noted in 1750 that within these few years past no less than fifteen tilting mills in and around Sheffield were erected for reducing iron and steel to a smaller dimension. Upper Middlewood Forge was a tilt mill: 1761 three cutlers wheels and a tilt and a mill for tilting steel, Oughtibridge. ‘Tilted steel’ is a term recorded from the eighteenth century: in 1734 Samuel Littlewood had Tilted Steel 5 stone and an half and in 1735 Joseph Morton had Tilted Steele Ł1.

spellings tilt mill
dates 1733 1734 1750 1761

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