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British Industrial History

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Samuel Fox and Co

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1964. Ladle being lowered into vacuum degassing chamber.

of Stocksbridge Works, Stocksbridge, Sheffield

1842 Samuel Fox took over a disused corn mill near the centre of Stocksbridge and adapted it to making wire for textile pins.

Around 1848 the business expanded to include wire for umbrella frames which led to Fox developing the “Paragon” umbrella frame in 1851.

The business continued to expand and spread to different produces so that by the mid 1860s the works included furnaces and rolling mills allowing production of railway lines and springs.

1855 Exhibited steel wire at the 1855 Paris Exhibition

1871 The business was transferred to a limited company. The company was registered on 1 November, to acquire the business of the firm of the same name as steel and iron manufacturers. [1]

Between 1872 and 1877 a railway line was built to link the works with the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway at Deepcar. This was the Stocksbridge Railway which existed as a subsidiary company until 1992.

1901 Railway Spring Manufacturers. [2]

1916 Samuel Fox and Co was acquired by Steel, Peech and Tozer

1918 Samuel Fox and Co joined Steel, Peech and Tozer (based at Templeborough) to form the United Steel Companies (USC) following the First World War. From then on the products of the USC sites were coordinated so that each works specialised in set products. Fox’s specialised in special steel produce such as spring steel and stainless steels. This developed into the manufacture of high quality steel for the aviation industry. One specialised department assembled and tested springs for Rolls-Royce cars.

1936 Stainless Steel. [3]

1937 Steel manufacturers. "Diamet" Stainless Steels. "Red Fox" Heat Resisting Steels. "Silver Fox" Stainless Steels. [4]

1939 See Aircraft Industry Suppliers

1951 Nationalised under the Iron and Steel Act; became part of the Iron and Steel Corporation of Great Britain[5]

1953 As a subsidiary of United Steel Companies the company was included in the public offer for sale of the shares in United Steel Companies held by the Iron and Steel Holding and Rationalization Agency[6].

Following nationalisation in 1967, the British Steel Corporation split the stainless steel departments off into a separate business which by 2004 had become Outokumpu.

1968 Queen's Award to Industry for Export Achievement. [7]

1968 Completion of the conversion of the Stocksbridge factory to electric-arc furnaces. [8]

During the 1980s and 1990s Stocksbridge works was part of the United Engineering Steels group (a joint venture between British Steel and GKN) and was known as "Stocksbridge Engineering Steels". [9]

Since 1999 works is owned by the Corus Group, and is part of the Corus Engineering Steels (CES) group. Although for several years Corus ran at a loss, it has recently returned to profit, in part helped by the worldwide rise in demand for steel caused by Chinese economic activity.

Steel manufacture in Stocksbridge has always been by melting iron and steel firstly in crucibles (from 1860, then Bessemer converters (from 1862) and Siemens Open Hearth Furnaces (from 1899 until 1968) and lastly Electric arc furnaces (from 1939 until 2005). Iron has never been produced from iron ore at Fox's, by any method.

Despite the world wide reputation of Stocksbridge works produce, Corus reduced the works to a satellite site for Rotherham (Aldwarke) Works (also CES). In the process the main melting shop was closed and as well as the rolling mill (the mill was actually kept open after the planned closure date as the production could not be handled at Rotherham. Re-melting of special grades continued using small (around 10 tonnes capacity), specialised furnaces with controlled atmospheres. The rolling mill (billet mill) was re-opened in April 2006 due to difficulties in rolling certain products at Aldwarke and is likely to stay open in the immediate future.

The plan to invest a further £6 million at Stocksbridge was cancelled part way through in December 2005. This plan would have enhance the re-melting furnace capacity at Stocksbridge, aimed at strengthening Corus’ position to supply the rapidly growing market place for engineering steels for the aerospace sector. Instead complete closure looks more likely and Corus withdrawing from this part of the market (as of mid December 2005).

The company owns the Stocksbridge Railway.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  2. 1901 White's Directory of Sheffield and Rotherham p980
  3. 1936 The Textile Manufacturer Year Book. Advert on p24
  4. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  5. Hansard 19 February 1951
  6. The Times, 26 October 1953
  7. The Engineer of 26th April 1968 p650
  8. The Engineer of 19th July 1968 p94
  9. [1] Wikipedia