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1877 Iron and Steel Institute: Visits to Works

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Consett Iron Co

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...intervening — where the company work up a great part of their crude iron into puddled bars; and it is only a little further distance to the rolling mills, where the major bulk of the puddled bars is worked up into ship plates and other kinds of finished iron. In good times the Company produce about 1,200 tom of plates per week, and of rails they have made as much as 800 tons weekly, although, of course, the recent output has been much less.

The Consett Company was formed in April, 1864, with a capital of £400,000, of which amount only £295,318 was paid for the works, plant, and royalties owned by the old Derwent Iron Company. The remarkable cheapness of the purchase may be estimated from the fact that it included no less than eighteen blast furnaces, although most of them were obsolete. It is mainly owing to such an excellent start that the company have all along been able to pay such remarkably good dividends, although not a little credit is due to the excellence of the management. In addition to their works and collieries in Durham, the Consett Company own limestone quarries in Weardale, ironstone mines in Cleveland, and hematite ore mines at Bilbao, in Spain, where they ship a very large quantity of ironstone to mix with the argillaceous ores of Cleveland.

The inspection of the Consett works lasted over two hours, and before leaving the visitors, who were most hospitably entertained, drank a bumper to the health of Mr. Jenkins, the general manager of the company, who suitably responded.


Hawks, Crawshay and Sons

This establishment was founded by Mr. William Hawks, in 1748, and for a number of years its operations were limited to the production of ironmongery goods. When Captain Brown, R. N., brought chain cables into use for sailing ships, their manufacture was undertaken at the Gateshead Iron Works, where they have since been cultivated as a speciality, and at the present time, they supply all the chains and cables required by the Admiralty.

Some thirty years ago, the present partnership of Hawks, Crawshay, and Sons, was formed. From that time the operations of the Gateshead Iron Works were more rapidly developed. The construction of locomotive engines, marine engines, and bridges, continued for many years to be the staple productions of the works. About twelve years ago, the manufacture of boiler plates was added, and is now carried on extensively. The works extend over nearly fifty acres of land, embrace more than sixty puddling furnaces and four mills, and afford employment in ordinary times to over 2,000 hands. To this firm belongs the distinction of having carried out successfully the contracts for the construction of the High Level Bridge, at Newcastle, and other important undertakings in bridges, jetties, piers, and light houses, both at home and abroad: Visitors were privileged to see in course of construction two draw bridges, for the Hull Dock Company, a pair of marine engines on the Perkins' system to work up to a pressure of 400 lbs. per square inch, and other contracts.


John Abbot and Co

It is upwards of fifty years since these works, which are situated at the South Shore, Gateshead, were founded by the late Mr. John Abbot. In 1864, they were sold to the limited liability company by which they are now carried on. Occupying an area of over fourteen acres of ground, the works produce commodities in iron, brass, pewter, and copper of all sorts and sizes, ranging from an ordinary pewter measure to a steam engine.

In addition to foundries, rolling mills, chain and cable factories, and fitting shops, the company have a private quay on the Tyne, whence the most of their manufactures are exported. The works embrace two foundries, each capable of turning out 150 to 180 tons of pipes, and about 80 tons of general castings weekly. The pipes are cast from 6 to 30 inches diameter. The chain making shops, which are of quite recent construction, have capabilities for the production of 70 to 80 tons weekly, in addition to between 30 and 40 tons of anchor work. The rolling mill has 34 puddling and ball furnaces and 7 mill furnaces, representing a production of about 54 tons of iron per shift. Three merchant mills, 16, 12, and 9 inches respectively, are equal to turning out 350 tons of finished iron per week. Nearly 2,000 men and boys are employed. Visitors saw in hand contracts for the supply of engines and machinery to the Beckton Gas Company; pipes for the Windsor Sewerage Works; bell buoys for the Trinity House; and light house work for the Admiralty.


R. and W. Hawthorn

These extensive engineering works were established in 1817 by Mr. Robert Hawthorn, who took his brother William into partnership in 1820. At an early period of its career, the firm of R. and W. Hawthorn acquired a considerable reputation for marine engineering, and they have assiduously cultivated this class of work since 1820, when they fitted up the first engines used in Tyne tug boats. During the first forty years the firm was in existence, the works produced 1797 locomotive engines, 121 mining engines, 171 general engines, and 80 double and 20 single marine engines.

In 1870 the business was transferred to the present owners, Messrs. Browne, Marshall, Ridley, and Straker. In the following year, the new proprietary started a branch establishment at St. Peters, where they make their own boilers. During the last two or three years the firm has engined twenty-one different vessels, including several gun boats built for the Admiralty. The works usually afford employment to from 1,200 to 1,500 men.


Robert Stephenson and Co

The well-known works of Messrs. R. Stephenson and Co., in South Street, were established concurrently with the initiation of the railway system in 1823, the immediate cause of their origin being the projected construction of the Stockton and Darlington Railway - the earliest passenger line in the United Kingdom - for which they built the first engines.

After the death of Robert Stephenson in 1859, the works passed to his cousin, Mr. G. R. Stephenson, who assumed as a partner Mr. J. W. Pease, M.P. During the first forty years of its existence, the firm of R. Stephenson and Co. produced 1,510 locomotives engines, 115 marine engines, and 263 stationary engines and boilers, in the construction of which raw materials valued at over two millions sterling were employed.

In 1870, 54 locomotives, and 7 marine engines were built, and at the end of 1872, 2,100 locomotives and 326 marine engines had been made. These included various kinds. Among the largest specimens is that for the Mauritius Railway, with cylinders 18 inches by 24 inches, and the smallest (with cylinders 6 inches by 10 inches) which was erected for the Egyptian Railway. Their weights vary from 4.5 tons to 40 tons, with a horse-power of 1,300. The "various kinds" include the "bogey" built for the Saratoga Railway in 1833, the princely locomotive and carriages for the Viceroy of Egypt, and the old "Hope," "Black Diamond," and "Diligence," which were disposed of after working upon the first English railway.

The marine class of workmanship boast the splendid pair of horizontal screw engines, 250 horse-power, ordered for the Sardinian Government, and others of 300 horse-power for the celebrated Holyhead and Dublin boats. A feature of interest to the visitor of the works is the old engine built in 1823 by George Stephenson at the opening of the premises. At first this engine drove all the machinery in the place.

In the course of so many years it has been renewed in many of its sections, the cylinder three times, but the beam and part of the frame are the same that George Stephenson put in. At first the cylinder was 10 inches diameter; now it is 16 inches, with 26-inch stroke; length of beam, 8 feet 2 inches; and the engine is of 20 horse-power nominal. An idea of the extent of the works may be gained from the fact that the total indicated horse-power of the stationary engines employed in the works is 550, and the total number of men employed on an average in ordinarily busy times is between 1,000 and 1,500.


Gateshead Works

These works were commenced upwards of thirty years ago by the old Brandling Junction Railway Company, and they passed thence to the North Eastern Company, when the two companies became amalgamated. The workshops proper and their adjuncts cover nearly thirty acres of ground. On the north aide is a tool shop, 345 ft, long, and 50 ft. wide, containing a collection of high-class machinery required for locomotive engine building, driven by a horizontal steam engine, built on the works. Here, also, a powerful hydraulic press for the purpose of forcing wheels on and off their axles was seen. Adjoining this, there is a fitting shop of the same length, but 90 ft. in width. A line of railway passes through the middle of half this shop, along which engines are brought for repairs, being lifted by over-head cranes, and placed on the various engine pits. In this shop there is one of the first wheel lathes made—somewhere about forty years ago—and one which was at the time of its construction considered the largest in the North of England. The whole of the main shafting and a great portion of the counter-shafting for driving the machinery is suspended from the iron roof of the building. Running parallel with this shop there are several smaller ones, occupied by brass-finishers, pattern-makers, &c., and adjoining is the repairing shop—equal in extent to the fitting shop—in which engines and tenders are put together and finished. Westward, there is a large smith and boiler shop, of a semi-angular construction, built to suit the formation of the site. Further on, at a lower level, is another smith's shop, where bolt-making and the forging of light ironwork is carried on. Here are fan blasts which supply compressed air to all the smiths' forges in the two shops. Adjoining this building is a large engine shed, capable of housing upwards of one hundred engines, and fitted with five large turning tables, into which the engine pits intersect. Alongside the engine shed, but on the opposite side of the Tanfield coal line, is a tender shop, 347 ft long and 45 ft. wide, in which new tenders are built, and to the eastward a brass foundry of recent erection measures 105 ft. long and 45 ft. wide. The company finds employment in these works for about 2,500 hands; but in the various locomotive, carriage, and wagon works which it owns fully 11,000 men are engaged. The Gateshead works are capable of producing upwards of 30 locomotive engines per annum.


Newcastle Chemical Works Co

This establishment, which claims to be largest of its kind in. the world, was originally established in 1834 by the late Mr. Charles Attwood.

From 1840 to 1846, it was carried on by Allhusen, Turner, and Company, and from the latter year to 1871 by C. Allhusen and Sons. In 1872 the works were transferred to a limited company, with a capital of £600,000. In 1876, they comprised an area of 137 acres, of which about 56 acres were covered with buildings, and they had a frontage to the Tyne of 1,440 ft. There are 220 burners and 30 chambers, each 175 ft. long, 21 ft. broad, and 20 ft. high, for the burning of pyrites and the manufacture of sulphuric acid. About 650 tons of soda ash are produced weekly, involving the decomposition of about 800 tons of common salt. The works as a whole are equal to yielding 54,000 tons of chemicals per annum, and they now employ about 1,500 men.


Felling Chemical Works

These works, established in the year 1833, derive their name from the township in which they are situated, and which is close to Gateshead. They are very extensive, and are fitted with the most modern appliances for the manufacture of chemicals. The firm consists of Mr. H. L. Pattinson, Mr. W. W. Pattinson, Mr. J. M. Redmayne, Mr. R. R. Redmayne, Sir John Watson, and Mr. J. H. Pattinson.

The plant consists of four revolving furnaces and five sets of chambers, with all the necessary accessories. The old pan process is used for decomposing; and the products are soda ash, refined alkali, soda crystals, bi-carbonate of soda, and bleaching powder, produced by Weldon's and Deacon's processes. The managers communicate with their office in Newcastle by means of a special wire, and' their railroads are connected with the North Eastern Railway Company's system and the river Tyne. A novel arrangement is used to get quit of refuse. Instead of making an expensive tunnel in the works for a waggon-way, a wire rope, supported by uprights, is run over the top of the buildings to the river's bank. This rope is endless, and works at either end on a wheel laid flatwise - one being actuated by steam power. The buckets are so constructed that they travel with the rope down one side to the river to be "tipped," and return with the rope on the other side to be re-filled. The principal chimney of the works fell down three or four years ago, owing to its having been sapped by the gases. It has been replaced by one which is 220 feet high. The works produce about 14,000 tons of soda ash and 6,000 tons of bleaching powder per year. About 650 men and 150 boys are employed.


Sowerby and Co

These works, carried on by Messrs. Sowerby and Co., are said to be the largest of the kind in England. They were established in the year 1851. The original works were founded by Mr. George Sowerby, father of the head of the present firm, in 1814.

The present buildings occupy about 54 acres of ground, and contain 8 furnaces, capable of turning out weekly upwards of 110,000 lbs. of manufactured pressed table glass. To produce these finished goods an immense quantity of minerals is required. The firm import this raw material chiefly from Fontainbleau (France), Germany, and North and South America. The cryolite which they use in the manufacture of opal glass is brought from Greenland. Altogether, the firm use upwards of 6,200 tons of raw material annually for the manufacture of the products which leave their establishment.

Several novelties in glass-making were seen at the Messrs. Sowerby's works. Articles of all sorts of design for table ware - many of them of great artistic excellence - are finished in the highest style of the trade, and are sent in large quantities into every part of the world. They vary from a common drinking glass to an elaborate and highly-ornamented Venetian flower vase.

Lately they have introduced a new article, which resembles porcelain in almost every particular, and can be made in various colours. An admirable imitation of malachite is also largely produced in articles of a very unique pattern. In addition to the glass-making works proper, Messrs. Sowerby and Co. have a foundry attached to their establishment, fitted up with turning lathes and every requisite, in which their patterns, numbering upwards of 1,500, have all been designed, cast, and finished. The firm gives employment to about 600 hands.


Swing Bridge, Newcastle

Previous to starting, however, the excursionists assembled on the Swing Bridge, recently constructed for the Tyne Commissioners by Sir W. G. Armstrong and Co., to witness the act of opening it, which was performed for their special benefit. At a given signal the machinery was set in motion, and the huge superstructure, weighing upwards of 1,450 tons, was swung round in less time than it takes to record the event, amidst the cheers of a large multitude. The total length of the bridge is 281 ft., and it is calculated to bear safely a load of sixty tons, moving on four wheels.

Its construction was begun on the 23rd September, 1868, and in June, 1876, it was opened for public traffic. To secure the stability of the foundations, iron cylinders, 40 to 45 ft. in length and 7i to 9 ft. diameter, were lowered into the bed of the river until they rested on the solid rock. Some forty cylinders, forming an ellipse, were used in the central pier alone. Each cylinder was joined to its neighbour by a massive beam of timber, so as to form a water-tight coffer-dam, the interior of which was filled with concrete and rubble stone up to the surface.

The apparatus whereby the swinging part of the bridge is opened and shut consist of two steam pumping engines, and two hydraulic engines, the latter resting upon bed-plates fixed into the solid granite pier. On these bed-plates also are fixed oscillating cylinders and rams—the latter coupled to the crank shaft - to which water is communicated through slide valves, worked by the oscillation of the cylinders, and connected by oscillating joints. The power is transmitted from the crank shaft through cog wheels, to the tooth pinion, which works into a tooth circular rack fixed to the bridge. The rack surrounding the centre has 9 in. pitch teeth, and is 46 ft. diam. The swing runs on 42 rollers, each 10 in. wide and 3 ft. diam., travelling in a roller path 43 ft. diam. The centre press is 5 ft. 2 in. diam. Only one of the hydraulic engines is needed to set the bridge in motion.


Newcastle Docks

Under the charge of Mr. P. J. Messent, engineer to the Tyne Conservancy, a large party proceeded, in one of the two steamers placed at the disposal of the excursionists, to inspect the extensive dredging and other operations in which the Commissioners are engaged.

Passing through the new Swing Bridge, and underneath the High Level, the first halt was made at the large dredger working between the High Level and Redheugh bridges. The engine of this dredger is 55 horse-power, and the power of the machine is indicated by the fact that it can load two barges at the rate of 700 tons per hour.

Steaming down stream again, the party were landed at the Whitehill Staiths, where the most improved arrangements are adopted for loading steamers with cargoes of coal. Thence the party were conveyed to the new Coble Dene Dock by a train of waggons that had been cleaned and fitted up for the purpose. This dock is on the north side of the Tyne, at the upper end of Shields Harbour. It will have an enclosed water space of 24 acres, and will be surrounded by 3,650 lineal ft. of deep-water quays. A river wall in front of the dock will be 900 ft. long, with a minimum depth of 20 ft. at low water tides. The tidal entrance will be 80 ft. wide, and the lock will be 60 ft. wide and 350 ft. long. The depth of water on the sill will be 30 ft. at high water spring tides, and 26 ft. at high water neap tides. There will be 168 acres of wharf and standage ground attached to the dock, and the excavation required in its construction is calculated at about 5,000,000 tons.

The dock was commenced in April, 1874, and the works already executed have cost over £200,000. It is, however, estimated that nearly a million sterling will be required to complete the whole undertaking. In carrying out the excavations at the Coble Dene, the Commissioners employ a steam " navvy," which was seen at work. After leaving the dock; the party sailed to the piers which are being constructed at the mouth of the river Tyne, and thence returned to Newcastle by either rail or by steamer, according to inclination.


Charles Mitchell and Co

These were established in 1852. Since then the firm has turned out 350 iron vessels of all classes representing 290,000 tons builders' measurement. The list includes a number of gunboats on Mr. Renders design, and the Hopper and Faraday cable ships. Visitors found nine vessels and a floating dock in course of construction. Interest was chiefly concentrated in a vessel that was being made of steel supplied by the Landore Steel Company. It was 210 feet long, 30 feet beam, 17 feet depth, and 1,300 tons burden, its draught being 14 feet, and its engines 100 horse-power. The floating dock which the firm had on hand was to the order of the Dutch Government, and is so built of wrought iron horizontal and vertical tubes that it can be taken to pieces and re-erected by the use of only a few bolts and nuts.


Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Co

The Tharsis Sulphur and Copper Company, Limited, whose headquarters are in Glasgow, have six large extracting works for the purpose of dealing with the residue of the pyrites which they import from Spain. These pyrites consist of sulphur, iron, and copper, and small quantities of other metals. They are first supplied to the alkali and manure makers, who burn o$ the sulphtir, converting it into sulphuric acid. After this has been done, the residue, consisting principally of peroxide of iron with copper, is operated on in the works of the Tharsis Company, at Hebburn. The Brothers Scott, the representatives of the company at Newcastle, acted as guides.


Foster, Blackett and Wilson

These are also at Hebburn, near to those of the Tharsis Company; and from the beautiful character of the processes carried on, they were inspected with much interest. Pattinson's process is employed in the de-silverising of lead. Visitors were shown a plate of silver weighing about 11,000 ounces.


Palmers Shipbuilding and Iron Co

This gigantic establishment, which embraces three blast furnaces, forges and rolling mills, engine works, and shipbuilding yard, could only be examined very hurriedly. The works cover an area of about 98 acres, and usually employ about 4,000 hands, but the company have several thousands more in their collieries and ironstone mines. The blast furnaces are each 80 feet high, and their united production is about 1,200 tons per week. The capabilities of the forges are equal to the production of over 1,000 tons of puddled bars weekly, the total number of puddling furnaces being close on 100. The Jarrow Works were established in 1852, and between that date and the year 1868, there had been built 239 vessels, with an aggregate burthen of 205,419 tons.


W. G. Armstrong and Co

These were established in 1847. The principal productions are hydraulic machinery of all kinds; steam boilers and engines; wrought iron bridge work, especially hydraulic swing bridges; wrought iron rifled ordnance on Sir W. G. Armstrong's coil system; gun carriages and machinery for mounting guns of all calibres, whether for land or naval defence; ammunition of all kinds, including shot and shell of the usual description, Palliser chilled projectiles, fuses, friction tubes, magazine fittings, pebble and R.L. G. powder, and small arms; mechanical and electrical torpedoes; Gatling guns or mitrailleuses, and their special ammunition; gunboats of the "Staunch" class; pig iron of various qualities; and general foundry work.

The works cover an area of forty acres, and have a frontage to the Tyne of nearly a mile. The two blast furnaces are each 75 feet high and 21 feet diameter of bosh. Their united production is about 600 tons per week. The pig iron is largely used at Woolwich for the manufacture of armour-piercing projectiles. It is also employed in the making of Bessemer steel. The ordnance works can produce about 80 tons of finished guns per week. In the forge there is a lot of very heavy machinery, enabling marine engine and screw shafts of the largest size to be produced. The total number of hands employed at the Elswick Works is between 3,500 and 4,000. A jetty attached to the works is fitted up with a sheers capable of lifting a weight of 120 tons.

The visitors were privileged to witness most of the operations conducted by the firm. They saw in the gun pit the process of shutting a coil upon one of the 100-ton guns which are being built for the Italian Government. In the foundry, a bar of gun metal nearly 150 ft. long was drawn from a heating furnace and made into a coil. In the forge, the great hammer, which has a head weighing 30 tons, and a stroke of 12 ft. 6 in., was made to weld one of the coils in the presence of the party, who were subsequently shown the working of the Gatling guns, and the processes of turning, rifling, and finishing the ordnance. In the erecting shop, among other interesting machinery, the party were shown the working of a new hydraulic squeezer, which has been constructed for the purpose of carrying out Siemens's puddling process with Danks's furnaces. This machine has been invented to meet a difficulty experienced in dealing with the bloom when it leaves the furnace. It combines the powers of a squeezer with those of the steam-hammer. It may be compared to a powerful steam-hammer set horizontally instead of perpendicularly, by which force is exerted in the form of a resistless steady pressure instead of a sudden blow. The bloom is conveyed direct from the furnace to what may be termed the floor of the squeezer by means of a sliding carriage moved by hydraulic power. At either side of this floor stands an immense square block of iron. One side is stationary, and may be compared to the anvil; the other side is movable backwards and forwards, and may be compared to the head of the hammer. When the bloom - which will measure, say, 5 ft. by 2 ft. 6 in. - has been conveyed from the furnace, and deposited upon the floor before-mentioned, the movable block of iron is immediately made to move forward. It soon comes in contact with the heated iron, and pushes it along. The iron, coming in contact with the stationary block, is thus caught between the two sides and squeezed. At the moment the pressure takes place, a square iron trap in the floor underneath the bloom opens downwards, and the cinder falls into a receptacle beneath. The trap returns to its place, and at that moment the movable block relinquishes its squeeze, and begins to travel back. The iron trap then opens again, but this time it opens upwards, and, catching the ball, tilts it up and turns it over. The movable head now returns to the charge, and puts forth another squeeze, retreating after the operation. The next process is to turn the metal again. It has been turned over; it now requires to be turned round. The machine is prepared for the emergency. Suspended over the floor, but out of the drift of the sliding block, is an inverted hydraulic ram. To the end of this is attached a horizontal disc full of holes, in which are fitted some dozen of thick iron pins. These pins hang with their points downwards, and are supported by their heads. To turn the ball, or bloom, the ram and disc are lowered upon it, and a rotary motion is then imparted. The ball is caught by the pins and slewed round to the required extent. This done, the disc and pins ascend to make room for the movable squeezer, which, coming forward, again repeats the squeeze. This process is repeated as often as required, the hall being either thrown over by the iron trap beneath, or dewed round by the pins of the suspended disc. The pins in the disc are fitted loosely in their sockets, so that those which touch upon the top of the bloom in the descent slide upwards. The squeezer has a stroke of 6 ft. 6 in., and the cylinder in which it moves weighs 22 tons. It is capable of giving a squeeze of no less than 750 tons. In order to economise power, a small auxiliary cylinder is provided. This merely overcomes the ‘vis inertiae’ of the block of iron itself, and carries it forward to the point of contact with the bloom, when the big cylinder comes into operation and performs the necessary squeeze. All the motions of the squeezer, as well as the iron carrier, are worked by hydraulic power, and are under the control of one man.


John Spencer and Sons

From Elswick, the excursionists proceeded by the special train to the Newburn Steel Works of John Spencer and Sons, some two or three miles further up the Tyne. These works cover eleven acres of ground, and employ from 400 to 500 men. They have been in operation since the year 1810, when they were engaged in the manufacture of files, and actuated by an over-shot water-wheel. The present plant embraces two Siemens' tank furnaces, one capable of producing 50 and the other 70 tons per week; two 24 crucible gas furnaces, each producing 12 tons per week; 7 crucible coke furnaces; and 8 converting furnaces, The firm carry on the Siemens pig and ore process, the .Siemens-Martin scrap process, the cementation process, and the crucible process of melting cast steel. Visitors were shown the original patterns for the first locomotive wheels used, these having been cast at Newburn. Messrs. Spencer and Sons, we may add, exhibited at the Institute meeting a number of mild steel castings of a superior kind.


Bell Brothers

These extensive and admirably-arranged works, which were established in 1851, are situated on the north bank of the river Tees, directly opposite Middlesbrough. A site of 200 acres of land having been acquired, the Messrs. Bell, in that year, undertook the erection of two blast furnaces, each measuring 47 ft. in height and 16 ft 6 in. bosh. Since then, they have added from time to time to their productive resources until the Clarence Works are now the most extensive individual works of their kind in the North of England. They comprise no less than twelve blast furnaces, all of them the same height—namely. 80 feet - but varying in their diameter of bosh, from 17 ft. to 25 ft., and in their cubical capacity from 11,000 ft. to 25,000 ft., while their weekly production ranges from 280 tons to over 400 tons per week per furnace. The blast is supplied to the twelve furnaces by ten engines - four being of the ordinary beam type, while the other six are vertical, and the whole of the hoists are worked by Sir W. G. Armstrong's hydraulic system.

Altogether the Clarence Works produce over a quarter-of-a-million tons of pig iron per annum. The ironstone is obtained from the mines of the firm in Cleveland, where it is worked to the extent of about 2,400 tons per day; the chief mines being those of Normanby, Carlin How, Skelton, Park, and Huntcliff. From the Tursdale, Page Bank, and Browney Collieries, the firm raise well on to a million tons of coal per aunnum, the great bulk of which is converted into coke, and used for smelting the pig iron made in the Clarence furnace. Messrs. Bell Brothers have also limestone quarries in Weardale, whence they draw supplies of raw materials required to flux the Cleveland ironstone at Clarence, to the extent of nearly 150,000 tons per annum. The Clarence Works are in direct connection with the railway of that name, thus giving them access to all inland markets, while they have extensive wharfage accommodation on their own property, which abuts on the river Tees.


Bolckow, Vaughan and Co

From Clarence, the members, after partaking of refreshments provided by Messrs. Bell, were conveyed in a steamboat to the Eston Jetty, and thence per special train to the new steel works of Bolckow, Vaughan, and Company. In the meantime, only three blast furnaces are erected, but it is proposed ultimately to increase this number to seven. Each furnace is 72 ft. in height, 23 ft. bosh, and equal to the production of 450 to 500 tons of Bessemer iron per week. The ore is carried along an overhead railway, and emptied into huge bunkers immediately behind the furnaces, and running parallel with them along their entire length, each being 25 ft. high, and 20 ft. wide. The bunkers are divided into three sets for the seven furnaces, and their total length from end to end of the row will be about 600 ft. In each of the three sets provision is made for the storage of limestone, ironstone, and coke, and the capacity of the set will be equal to some 10,000 tons. The bunkers are built of strong timber, with equally strong iron supports. They are fitted underneath with valves, which enable the raw materials to be emptied into the barrows without any manual labour other than that of simply opening and shutting the valves, which are placed underneath the floor at a height of about 5.5 ft. from the ground.

After being filled, these barrows are wheeled on to the hoists, which are worked by water-balances with a brake-wheel at the top. The water is pumped by Cameron's (Manchester) ordinary pumping engines into a tank placed on top of the hoist. Three barrows are carried up at a time, their load varying from 14 to 16 cwts., according to the burden of the furnace. Six hot-air stoves, on Godfrey's system, are attached to each furnace, each stove having 2,000 superficial feet of heating surface, and giving a temperature of 1,100 degs. There are eighteen pipes to each stove. The pipes are flat, and measure 3 ft. by 10 in. They are about 16 ft. high, weigh 2.5 tons each, and were all made by the company at their own works.

Each furnace is furnished with five tuyeres, 3.5-in. diameter. In running direct from the furnace, the iron follows the channel made in front of the tapping holes, until it reaches an aperture 6 in. diameter, lined with firebrick, through which it passes into the ladles placed on a tramway of the ordinary guage underneath. This tram or railway is to be carried along the whole length of the row of seven furnaces - a distance of 600 feet. Each ladle has a capacity of eight tons. A locomotive conveys the ladles along the tramway - which is covered in - until they come in front of the furnace about to be tapped. In the event of the iron not being required for the ladles, it is diverted into a series of pig beds, placed in front of each furnace.

A 20-ton machine, by Pooley, is provided for the purpose of weighing the iron as it comes from the blast furnace, and the laboratory is placed close by the machine, so that the molten metal can be taken from the ladles and sampled or analysed without waste of time. From the last of the row of furnaces to the first of the Bessemer converters, the distance is only about 200 ft. Each of the four converters is eight tons capacity. The converters are elevated on a platform about 12 ft. from the level of the ground. In the centre of this platform there is a hydraulic ram, used to lift the ladle to a platform on a level with the converters. On this platform there are diverging lines of railway, which enables the ladles to be moved laterally to either of two converters. A worm-wheel arrangement is used on the platform to tip the metal from the ladle into the converter. Throughout the whole of these works care is taken to avoid working below the floor line.

It is believed that this arrangement will represent a considerable economy, as compared with the customary Bessemer process of casting the ingots in pits, seeing that the expense and loss of time incurred in lifting the ingots out of the pits is avoided. After coming from the converters, the ingot of steel is heated in one of Siemens' regenerative furnaces, and thence it is carried to the rolls beyond. Having been brought down in the first process of rolling to about 7.5 in. square and 14 ft. long, the ingot is reheated in a second heating furnace, and rolled again into a length of 27 or 30 ft., as the case may be, in order to adapt it to the production of three rails. There are six first and six second heating Siemens' furnaces of exceptional size, each being 25 ft. long and 10 ft. wide, with three doors, and as three ingots will be charged at each door, a furnace will hold nine ingots altogether.

The cogging machinery embraces a pair of engines by Thwaites and Carbutt, of Bradford, each with a 36 in. cylinder and a 4 ft. 6 in. stroke, fitted with wrought iron cranks, steel shafts, and very strong wheeled gear. The pitch of tooth is 8 in., with 20 in. width of face, and geared up three to one, the diameter of the rolls being 3 ft. After twelve pauses of the ingot through the rolls it is reduced from 12 in. to 7.5 in.

Arrangements have been made for rolling the ingots by hydraulic ram gear, without employing any men; and it is expected that this new plan will be so successful that the ingots will be rolled without other manual aid than that supplied by the engine-man who works the cranes and rams. Beyond the cogging rolls there are six re-heating furnaces, each 15 ft. wide, and adapted to receive a 14 ft. bloom. These and all the other furnaces are so arranged that there can be no fire at the back of the men working the adjacent furnaces, the door of each being on the side furthest removed from the men. The ingot blooms will be all charged into and drawn from the furnaces by hydraulic machinery. The blooms will be brought by a locomotive from the furnaces to the finishing mill, which is furnished with 26-in. rolls, driven by large compound engines supplied by Tannett, Walker, and Co., of Leeds. The rolls are direct from the engine shaft.

The whole of the hydraulic machinery about the Eston Steel Works is actuated by a number of engines, fitted up in a large engine house, and furnished with steam by twenty-four steel boilers—in two groups of twelve each—made by Daniel Adamson, of Manchester, and each measuring 30 ft. in length by 7 ft. in diameter. Each boiler has two flues, is double rivetted, and works at a pressure of 80 lbs. on the square inch. These boilers are worked mainly, if not exclusively, by the waste gas from the blast furnaces. There are two blowing engines for the converters, also by Adamson, each with 40-inch steam, 50-inch air cylinders, and 5 ft. stroke. They work with 25 lbs. pressure of air on the square inch, and are of the vertical type, with the steam cylinder above the air cylinder.

Two pairs of horizontal engines, with cylinders of 18 in. diameter and 2 ft. stroke, pumping water to a pressure of 400 lbs. on the square inch, work the whole of the hydraulic machinery connected with the cranes and converters. These engines were made by Sir W. G. Armstrong and Company. The pumps are placed at the back of the cylinders, so that the valves can be easily got at. The two accumulators have each a ram 2 ft. diameter and a stroke of 18 ft., and they are weighed to give a pressure of 400 lbs. on the square inch. The steel works are contained under eight spans, each 64 ft. wide and 30 ft. high to the top of the girders. The present length of the structure is about 360 ft. All the smoke is carried away by underground flues into two chimneys, each 200 ft. high and 12 ft. diameter at the top. The portion of the works now constructed is to be devoted wholly to the production of rails, but, when times mend, the company propose to double the present size of the works, and to undertake, in addition to rails, the manufacture of steel plates, tyres, and other articles.

The works are so arranged as to carry the various processes of manufacture forward in a continuous straight line.

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