The steel industry is a relatively new one when you look back at the history of Britain. However, having been going strong since the 1850s, it can also be thought of an enduring one. Prior to this time, steel was difficult to manipulate and manage and was thought of as a last resort when it came to metal works. This all changed with the invention of the Bessemer process for the manufacture of steel. The process, created by English engineer Henry Bessemer, was the first cheap way for the mass production of steel from molten pig iron.
The oxidation of the iron, achieved by blowing air through it, removes impurities and the iron is kept molten in the Bessemer converters. This process was extremely fast and was the first to make the manufacture of steel inexpensive and the cost decreased from £40 per long ton to £6-7 per long ton during its introduction. As the process was less labour intensive than alternatives too, Steel became the manufacturers’ metal of choice and was used to build the frameworks of bridges, ships, railroads and skyscrapers.
However, the development of steel products had another and even more influential application. Steel cable, steel rod and sheet steel were all developed using an open hearth method and enabled the construction of much more powerful engines, gears and axles than were possible previously. The strength of industrial steel made it possible for manufacturers to build giant turbines and generators, which in turn made it possible for the power of steam and water to be harnessed. When the mass production of steel became simpler and easier, it was also put to use creating defensive weaponry such as tanks, guns and naval ships.
While the next 150 years saw the British steel industry suffer numerous booms and setbacks, it has endured to remain a bastion of the country's manufacturing industries and remains one of the most productive in Europe. New technology has seen the process of steelmaking undergoing another makeover, with many processes now run largely by computers making the work safer as well as less labour intensive. Where as one steelworker may have been expected to 100 tonnes per employee 20 years ago to more than 500 tonnes in more recent days.
UK steel production remains a dynamic and in demand industry and steel produced in Britain has been used all throughout the world for building projects of all shapes and sizes.
Adam Singleton writes for a digital marketing agency. This article has been commissioned by a client of said agency. This article is not designed to promote, but should be considered professional content.