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British Industrial History

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Dorman, Long (Steel)

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1954 Dorman Long and Company became a holding company on 2 October. The Holding and Realization Agency sold all of the shares in the company to the public[1]. Dorman, Long (Steel) was one of 3 new operating companies created.

1954 Britannia Works, Middlesbrough became part of Dorman, Long (Steel). Other works transferred to the new operating company were at Acklam, Cleveland, (and the new works at) Lackenby and Redcar[2]

1956 The AGM of Dorman, Long and Co was told about performance of the main subsidiary companies[3] including Dorman Long (Steel) Ltd, which included the Lackenby and Cleveland steel works and blooming mills, and coke ovens at South Bank.

In addition to universal beams and columns, Dorman, Long (Steel) produced heavy and medium plates, heavy joists and sections; rails, sleepers, light sections and bars; wire rod, wire; mild steel, black, galvanised and plastic-coated sheets; and welded steel fabrication.

1967 Dorman Long became part of British Steel




  • Please Note: 1964 Steelmaking Rolling data is available from Grace's Guide archive. Please contact the Editor if you would like access to the information.

1961. Hot rolled rod.
1964. Clay Lane Blast Furnaces.

Clay Lane Blast Furnace - Memoirs by Patrick Capper.

"I had a good three years at Dorman Long of which just over two were with the three Blast Furnaces at Clay lane. Between the three furnaces I saw practically every problem you can have on a Blast Furnace. Once I was looking into a spy glass at a tuyere and not long afterwards iron came back at and burnt through the water feed pipe causing a steam explosion.

There were many operating problems due to large build up in the furnace stack which made burden descent a problem and the wind had to be reduced about every 20 to 30 minutes to allow the burden to come down. If it did not come down in these small increments but came down a large distance it would often cause slag to come back at the tuyeres and in the worst case slag and iron would burn through the tuyere or blowpipe and have hot metal and slag coming out onto the floor.

The build up was probably caused by high alkalis in the charge which lateer research indicated was a cause of build up in the stack. There was high alkalis in the sinter which was made from a mixture of ores I think Kovdorsky from Russia probably had very high alkalis but in the 1960s alkalis were not known to be the cause of these type of build up problems.

Another problem at Clay Lane was the slow turn around of the torpedoes which were transported to Redcar and Lackenby works and often there was a heavy skull at the top of the torpedo which the furnace crew would try to break with a tup, however this was often unsuccessful and then we would hope for a slow flow of iron to burn through the skull without causing much to bounce over onto the ground. Sometimes there was a heavy flow of iron which washed out the sand dam and iron would flow into tow torpedoes for a short time as shown in a couple of photos.

There were also times that iron would come out of the slag notch, inn the worst case this burnt through the water feed tot he coolers and then cause steam explosions and a large quantity of iron slag coke sinter scrap bales come come up and cause a long off blast period for clean up and repairs Hardly ever a dull moment

Les Chilvers had little formal education but was very intelligent and knowledgeable about the quirts of Blast Furnace operation. On one shift the shift manager was an ex fighter pilot who was very cool and calm in a crisis and on the same shift one furnace foreman was known as "Flapper" who would be rather paralyzed with fear and be rather slow in taking corrective action. It was always a debate as to whether the poor coke or poor sinter quality were the cause of the most problems, coke coming out of the taphole was always blamed on poor coke quality. Ed Stevenson worked at Clay Lane at the same time as me but started work a year earlier than me and rose to senior management levels and stayed in the Teesside area and if still alive would I am sure have memories of those days in 1965-1967.

I was part of a Graduate trainee program being hired in Sept 1964 and spending a year visiting the various departments ( hence the steel- rolling photos) before opting to work in the iron making department. This included time at the sinter plant which instead of having a circular cooler had a cooling bench. The problem was often hot sinter was dumped on cooler sinter and so often some hot sinter went onto the conveyor belt and if not sprayed quickly with water could cause the belt to catch fire! Steelmaking in those days was by open hearth ( prior to Oxygen Steelmaking) and steel was poured into ingots (prior to continuous casting).

October 8th 1965 - So far I have done a spell of 4 shifts Supervising and because the furnace is not working well I have found it quite exhausting. If a Blast Furnace is working well the burden of coke and ore moves steadily down the stack of the furnace and the scale car driver keeps sending skips up to keep the stock level about 6 feet below the large bell at the top of the furnace. Occasionally you can expect that the burden sticks in the furnace and after 20 mins to 40 minutes the burden can be brought down by checking the furnace i.e. opening the snort so that some of the air from the turbo blowers goes to atmosphere instead of to the furnace thus reducing the air pressure at the furnace. Normally, if the burden stops moving, it will not move until you do this. At present No. 2 is working very badly for an unknown reason. The burden practically never moves of its own accord and if you don’t check the furnace every 20 mins, the burden will slip. This causes the pressure of gas leaving the top of the furnace to shoot upwards from about 20 ins to anything up to 50 ins. The top temperature normally 150 C may go up to 600 C , and a lot of dust will be carried over to the gas cleaning plant, and the air pipes may be filled with slag. This means that every 20 mins I have to check the furnace and unless it is soon after a cast the men have to look into the air pipes (the tuyeres) to make sure slag doesn’t come down the pipes. If it starts to, they shout, and you have to put the pressure back up fast or you will fill the pipe with slag and the Furnace will have to be taken off blast after the next cast while the men change the pipes. It takes from 1 ½ hours, and you are generally unpopular. Fortunately there has been little sign of slag at the pipes but on the other hand the furnace is likely to slip even 5 mins after a check. In this case you have to open the snort in case it slips again and gets the top of the furnace too hot. The only way the top temp is brought down is my more cold burden being charged in. This all means that you can’t get much more than 25 mins of continuous rest - you wait ½ hour after a cast before you check the furnace.

I left in December 1967 to join Iron Ore company of Canada in Labrador Canada and later in 1979 returned to Ironmaking with Algoma Steel in Sault Ste Marie and retired in 2005.[4]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 4 January 1956
  2. The Times, Nov 15, 1954
  3. The Times, 4 January 1956
  4. Memoirs by Patrick Capper who also kindly sent Grace's Guide copies of the Clay Lane photographs on this page.