Making steel in Corby

The process of turning iron ore into steel

By Michael Mahon

 Images courtesy of Corby Heritage Center

In 1967 the British steel industry was nationalised and the Stewarts & Lloyds steel tube works at Corby became part of British Steel. In 1973 the government approved a strategy of consolidating steel making in five main areas – South Wales, Sheffield, Scunthorpe, Teesside and Scotland – most of which are coastal sites with access to economic supplies of iron rich imported ores. Thus in 1975 the government agreed a programme that would lead to the phasing-out of steel making in Corby.[8] In November 1979 the end of iron and steel making in Corby was formally announced. By the end of 1981 over 5,000 jobs had been lost from British Steel in Corby, and further cuts took the total loss to 11,000 jobs, leading to an unemployment rate of over 30%.[9][10] Steel tube making continued, however, initially being supplied with steel by rail from Teesside and later from South Wales.

 

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This gallery was added by Michael Mahon on 07/05/2014.
Comments about this page

Can you tell me when these images would have been taken, what year?

By Louise Grindley
On 05/06/2014

I was a junior Metallurgist in the DR&TD late1946-51. Although I never worked in the Bessemer shop, I visited it on occasion. As a possible clue to the question regarding dates, I would suggest looking at the hats. In my time de rigueur headwear for melters was two soft hats- one whole and the other with the top burnt out, as seem to be worn in the photos ! I have no recollection of safety helmets being worn.

Regarding O.H. furnaces, I have no recollection of them at all - I suspect the introduction of Basic Bessemer steelmaking may have superseded them.

Some super old pictures there. Best regards 

By Ian McDowall
On 10/12/2014

I worked in the Bessemer plant  from '48 to '50 as a sample boy.My job was to collect steel samples from the Bessemer platform and the teeming platform and take them to the DRTD. There was indeed an open hearth plant at that time it was referred to as an electric furnace. The clothing shown in the photos would be right for that period.

By Ian Johnstone
On 05/01/2015

I was a metallurgist at Corby for four years, 1969-73. The Bessemers had already been replaced by BOS (Basic Oxygen Steelmaking) but one (or two ?) Open Hearth Furnaces were still there, but out of use. There was also a pair of electric arc furnaces, which made the more heavily alloyed steel.

Bessemer and OH steelmaking had arrived in the UK c1860 and orby would have used both at the same time because they made different grades of steel.

The slides show Bessemer converters. The last one to operate in the UK was at Port Talbot, which I saw in action in 1968 or '69.

By Steve Banks
On 24/07/2016

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