Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,165 pages of information and 245,632 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Brymbo Steelworks

From Graces Guide
1843. Exhibit at the Bersham Heritage Centre.
1849. Exhibit at the Bersham Heritage Centre.
1862. Exhibit at the Bersham Heritage Centre.
1962.

The Brymbo Steelworks was a large steelworks in the village of Brymbo near Wrexham, Wales.

1793 Iron works were founded at Brymbo by John 'Iron Mad' Wilkinson who built a blast furnace in 1793, just after he bought Brymbo Hall. The reasons for his move from the nearby Bersham Ironworks are not clear, but it may be that there was no room for expansion, that he only rented Bersham, or due to difficulties with his brother William, who was claiming a share in his business.

1805 A second furnace was built by 1805 and a third about 1869, but from 1892 no more than two were used, and from 1912 only one.

After Wilkinson's death, his estate was contested between his natural children and legitimate heirs and the works passed through various hands.

1815 BRYMBO IRON WORKS and COLLIERY, NEAR WREXHAM.
TO BE LET, ALL those well-known IRON WORKS and COLLIERIES, situate at Brymbo, near Wrexham, in the county of Denbigh, North Wales; part of the trust Estates of the late John Wilkinson, Esq. consisting of the blast furnaces, now at work, with buildings adjoining, which are easily convertable to forges, and other purposes connected with the iron trade; powerful blast engine, with other engines, whimseys, rail-ways, waggons, houses for agents and workmen, and every other requisite for carrying on the iron trade.— These furnaces are at full work, and the colliery and iron-stone pits opened so as to furnish without much further expence, ample supply the best material, for many years to come ; the buildings and machinery are in working repair, most approved plans. The Brymbo pig iron is well known in an extensive district, for its extraordinary liveliness and fluidity, making an excellent mixture with other pig iron of less ductile quality, for founders' use, as well as for the forge; the weekly make is 70 to 80 tons, with a constant regular sale.
It is proposed to let these works, the engines, furnaces, buildings, pits, houses, and fixed machinery, for a term of years; ..... Application maybe made to, and further particulars had from Mr. Samuel Smith Adam, the piincipal agent at the works; from James Adam, Esq., the acting executor and devisee, Cattle-head, near Milnethorp, Westmoreland ; from Messrs. Claughton and Fitchett, Solicitors, Warrington.' [1]

1842 Henry Robertson, civil engineer, was approached by a group of investors, (including William Mackenzie, William Betts, and A. M. Ross) to report on the practicality of restoring the derelict Brymbo ironworks. Robertson was favourably impressed by the industrial potential of the area and, when the necessary capital had been raised, he moved south to Chester[2].

The Brymbo Iron Co was formed to manage the works

1846 William Henry Darby and Charles Edward Darby, grandsons of Abraham Darby (1750-1789) of Coalbrookdale, took on the management of the business.

1874 Charles Darby and Jonathan Green, furnace manager, gained a patent on improvements related to blast or smelting furnaces[3]

After the Darbys died in 1883 and 1884, the business was incorporated as Brymbo Steel Co in 1884.

1883-4 John Henry Darby designed and erected the Brymbo Steel Works where basic open hearth steel was first made in Britain on a commercial scale.

1918 Baldwins acquired control of the Brymbo Steel Co[4].

c.1931 The works closed

1933 A receiver was appointed

1934 The works re-opened, taking on some of the workers who had been laid off when it closed 3 years previously[5]. The rolling mill was electrified and the old steam mill engine was scrapped[6]

1934 The business changed company name again in 1934.

1936 Due to pressure of demand the works were kept going through the Christmas period[7]

1938 The works were stopped because customers had too much stock in hand[8]

1940 Installed new electric furnace melting shop and planned to blow-in the blast furnace for making basic pig iron[9]

1942 A blowing engine was installed by Richardsons, Westgarth and Co‎

The works were served by the Wrexham and Minera Branch of the Great Western Railway, later of British Railways.

1948 The works and property of Brymbo Steel Co were transferred to GKN, which used the steel "sheet" bars produced by the works; the company name was changed again to Wrexham Steel Works Ltd.[10]

1951 Brymbo Steel Works Ltd was nationalised under the Iron and Steel Act; became part of the Iron and Steel Corporation of Great Britain[11]

1955 Private sale of Brymbo Steelworks by Holding and Realisation Agency[12] to GKN [13].

1959 Installation of electric arc furnace which for the first time (in the UK?) could receive a major charge of molten iron from a blast furnace[14]. Mill enlarged.

Was a branch of GKN Steel Co. Ltd in the early 1960s.

1967 After some argument about whether GKN's vertical integration should mean that Brymbo was not nationalised with the rest of the steel industry, it became a division of British Steel

1973 After lengthy negotiations, GKN repurchased Brymbo Steel Works from British Steel, for £20million, including the sale of GKN Dowlais to British Steel. GKN took about 70 percent of the output of Brymbo; most of the output of Dowlais (ingot moulds) went to British Steel[15]

1980 GKN installed a new automated rolling mill.[16]

1986 Brymbo Steel Works became part of a joint venture with British Steel called United Engineering Steels[17]

1990 The steelworks lasted until 1990, when it was closed. 1,100 jobs were lost[18]

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Chester Courant - Tuesday 31 October 1815
  2. Biography of Henry Robertson, ODNB [1]
  3. London Gazette 20 November 1874
  4. The Times, Apr 26, 1918
  5. The Times, Nov 27, 1933
  6. The Times, Mar 31, 1934
  7. The Times, Jan 04, 1936
  8. The Times, Mar 19, 1938
  9. The Times, Jan 13, 1940
  10. The Times, Feb 06, 1948
  11. Hansard 19 February 1951
  12. The Times, 31 January 1956
  13. The Times, 29 June 1956
  14. The Times, Apr 23, 1959
  15. The Times, Aug 08, 1973
  16. The Engineer 1982/03/04
  17. The Times, Aug 08, 1985
  18. The Times, August 09, 1990
  • The Steam Engine in Industry by George Watkins in two volumes. Moorland Publishing. 1978/9. ISBN 0-903485-65-6
  • [2] Wikipedia