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Ebbw Vale Steelworks

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The Ebbw Vale works was the site of a major producer of iron and then steel, the first in the Britain to integrate both iron and steel production.

Chronology:


1930s The Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Co took control of the Newport Abercarn Black Vein Steam Coal Co Ltd and the Powells Tillery Steam Coal Co Ltd. These and other assets were disposed of between 1936 and 1938 partly to Richard Thomas and Co and the rest to Partridge, Jones and John Paton Ltd[1].

1935 Following a period of intense speculation, Sir William Firth, Chairman of Richard Thomas and Co announced that his company had purchased the assets of the Ebbw Vale Iron and Steel Works and that the first continuous hot strip mill outside the USA would be located there[2].

1938 The new works was commissioned. The continuous hot strip mill with a capacity of 600,000 tons per annum and facilities for sheet and tinplate manufacture was the first integrated Steel Works in Europe.

1945 The fusion of Richard Thomas and Co and Baldwins was finalised. It created one of the largest companies in the UK Richard Thomas and Baldwins.

1947 The first electrolytic tin-plating line in Europe was commissioned at Ebbw Vale.

1950 The Government of the day nationalised the steel industry.

1953 onwards: The Steel Industry was denationalised although Richard Thomas and Baldwins and Ebbw Vale Works remained in state ownership.

1961 The first UK top blown LDAC process was introduced at Ebbw Vale.

1967 British Steel was established. Richard Thomas and Baldwins Ebbw Vale Works formed part of the South Wales Group.

1970 British Steel announced a 10 year development plan which included a statement on Ebbw Vale that proposed the cessation of iron and steel making operations at the works.

1972 The Coke ovens closed on 16/03/72. Work commenced removing a 19th Century tip (Drill ground) containing nearly 500,000 tons of material. This work enabled the extensions to be built to the cold mill.

1973 As part of a restructuring of the steel industry, a new tinplate complex was announced for Ebbw Vale Works.

1974 A new hydrochloric Pickle line commissioned, a feat of modern engineering - straddling the calley floor from easy to west.

1970s Steelmaking ceased after which the site specialised in rolling and coating coil steel produced at Llanwern and Port Talbot steel works.

1975 The Converter shop closed on 19/07/75. The Blast furnaces closed on 17/07/75 having produced 16,916,523 tons of iron on A, B & C furnaces. 1976/7 - Tinplate Development Phase 1 commenced.

1977 Effluent Plant Commissioned August (the works won a clean river award). 4&5 Hallden Shears commissioned September. 4 E.T.L. commissioned December. 5 cleaning line commissioned December. The continuous hot strip mill rolled its last hot rolled coil on 29/09/77. It has rolled, from slab, 23 million tons of steel. F5 (the fifth mill of six) was erected at the north gate.

1978 The final cast was made at the open hearth department and the last ingot was rolled at the slabbing mill. The Hot Mill Slabbing Mill closed on 22/05/78. It had slabbed 24 million tons of steel. Final Cast at the open hearth on 19/05/78. Single Stack Annealing A. Commissioned. Double Reduction (DR.) mill commissioned March 1978. No. 4 Coil Prep Commissioned December 1978

1978 Saw the official opening of the New Tinplate development on 15/06/78, by Derek Hornby, The President of the Food Manufacturing Federation. Costing £57 million, it increased the output of Tinplate at Ebbw Vale by 35%. This was the completion of phase 1 of development but after a Government white paper on "The Road to Viability" was published, phase 2 was suspended, never to materialise.

1980 A National Steel Strike from January 2nd to April 3rd. An expensive 5 stand upgrade was completed and commissioned mainly comprising computer controlled settings for each of the 5 rolling mills, leading to automatic gauge control. Also a new automatic roll change system was put into place.

1981 The demolition of the iron/steel making end of works were well in advance, also a new southern boundary was now in place.

1983 A Plan was put before the local council to apply for the site of the 1992 National Garden Festival, on the site of the former iron / steel making end of the works. (In November 1988 Ebbw Vale was named as the winner)

1988 A new automatic Warehouse was announced costing £11.9 million. (It was commissioned in 1991)

1991 An extensive refurbishment of No. 2 Temper Mill took Place, costing £8.5 million. Comprising computer control plus a new automatic roll change system.

1995 No. 2 E.T.L. closed down is August, initially planned to be demolished and redeveloped, however, this plan was found to be too costly with the result that the unit was effectively mothballed and kept as a very useful source of spares for the 2 remaining tinning lines until their demise later on.

1999 On 06/10/99 a merger was announced with Hoogovens (Holland) and British Steel plc. to become a new company called CORUS.

2001 On 01/02/01 the total closure was announced of Ebbw Vale works with a final loss of 780 jobs.

2001 On 01/06/01 - No. 2 Galvanizer ceased production; subsequently the line was dismantled and sold to an Indian Company. (With India also buying the Lurgi plant. Double reduction mill (DR Mill) ceased production - this mill was dismantled and re-assembled at Ijmuiden (Holland)July - No. 4 Electrolytic Tinning Line ceased production - this line was dismantled and is now No. 6 ETL at Trostre (Llanelli).

2002 On July 2002 - Ebbw Vale Works Officially ceased production. Although a stockpile of finished products were shipping out by a skeleton staff until December 2002.

2002 A Scottish firm of demolition experts (Morton) were brought in to demolish the works whilst leaving the site fit and ready for future development. Demolition commenced in August 2002.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Papers in Gwent Record Office [1]
  2. The Times, 2 March 1936
  • [2] Blaenau-Gwent Web Site
  • British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816