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Brymbo Steelworks

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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.

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[1].

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[2]

After the Darbys died in 1882 and 1884, the business was incorporated as Brymbo Steel Co in 1884.

1918 Baldwins acquired control of the Brymbo Steel Co[3].

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[4]. The rolling mill was electrified and the old steam mill engine was scrapped[5]

1934 The business changed company name again in 1934.

1936 Due to pressure of demand the works were kept going through the Christmas period[6]

1938 The works were stopped because customers had too much stock in hand[7]

1940 Installed new electric furnace melting shop and planned to blow-in the blast furnace for making basic pig iron[8]

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.[9]

1951 Brymbo Steel Works Ltd was nationalised under the Iron and Steel Act; became part of the Iron and Steel Corporation of Great Britain[10]

1955 Private sale of Brymbo Steelworks by Holding and Realisation Agency[11] to GKN [12].

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[13]. 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[14]

1980 GKN installed a new automated rolling mill.[15]

1986 Brymbo Steel Works became part of a joint venture with British Steel called United Engineering Steels[16]

1990 The steelworks lasted until 1990, when it was closed. 1,100 jobs were lost[17]

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Biography of Henry Robertson, ODNB [1]
  2. London Gazette 20 November 1874
  3. The Times, Apr 26, 1918
  4. The Times, Nov 27, 1933
  5. The Times, Mar 31, 1934
  6. The Times, Jan 04, 1936
  7. The Times, Mar 19, 1938
  8. The Times, Jan 13, 1940
  9. The Times, Feb 06, 1948
  10. Hansard 19 February 1951
  11. The Times, 31 January 1956
  12. The Times, 29 June 1956
  13. The Times, Apr 23, 1959
  14. The Times, Aug 08, 1973
  15. The Engineer 1982/03/04
  16. The Times, Aug 08, 1985
  17. 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