Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,368 pages of information and 245,906 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.

Dorman, Long and Co

From Graces Guide




1927. Tarfroid.
1932. Erection of the Bangkok Memorial Bridge.
1933. Craigavon Bridge During Construction.
1959. Stacking Beams at the Lackenby Universal Beam Mill, supplied by Wellman, Smith, Owen Engineering Corporation.
1964. Large flywheel and belt pulley system operating the rolling mill at Ayrton.
1964. Man catching the sheet and passing it back through the rolling mill.
1964. Dorman Long Map of the Works.

Dorman, Long and Co of Middlesbrough were a major manufacturer and fabricator of steel components and structures.

The firm began as an iron and steel works manufacturing bars and angles for ships. A natural progression from this was to become involved in the construction of bridges, particularly when Dorman Long took over the concerns of Bell Brothers and Bolckow, Vaughan and Co in the late 1920s. [1]


1837 The first Cleveland ironstone mine opens, at Grosmont.

1841 Bolckow, Vaughan and Co open the first ironworks in Middlesbrough.

1855 30 blast furnaces operate within six miles of Middlesbrough.

1865 One million tonnes per annum (TPA) of iron were produced to make the area one of the world's major centres of iron production.

1866 Arthur John Dorman (1848–1931) began working with Richardson, Johnson and Co[2]

1875 Number of blast furnaces increased to 100, producing two million tpa.

1876 Dorman, a metal broker, launched a partnership with Albert de Lande Long, taking over an existing plant, the West Marsh ironworks, Middlesbrough, initially manufacturing iron bars and angles for shipbuilding.

1879 Leased the Britannia Works from Sir Bernard Samuelson.

1879 Sidney Gilchrist Thomas persuaded E. W. Richards, manager of Bolckow, Vaughan and Co's works, to try out the process that he and his cousin, Percy Gilchrist, had invented for dealing with the phosphorus in pig iron produced by the Bessemer converter[3] leading to the commercial production of steel.

1882 The firm purchased the Britannia Works from Sir B Samuelson[4]

1880s the firm switched to the new steelmaking technologies, installed open-hearth furnaces and exploited the breakthroughs of Gilchrist and Thomas

1889 The company was registered on 2 November, to take over the business of manufacturers of iron and steel bars of the firm of the same name at Middlesbrough-on-Tees, and other businesses have since been acquired. [5] Operated the Britannia Works and the West Marsh Works[6].

1891 William Henry Panton was appointed general manager

1899 Joint venture with Bell Brothers which built a new steel works at Clarence Works, adjacent to the blast furnaces[7].

1899 Acquired the sheet works, Ayrton Rolling Mills[8], after the death of Robert Page Dorman, and the wire works that had been set up as the Bedson Wire Co.

1900 William Henry Panton and Charles Dorman became joint managing directors.

1900 Obtained the contract for the new construction works for The Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Co to be erected at the Trafford Park Estate on the Manchester Ship Canal. They also have a contract for similar work for the British Thomson-Houston Company's new works to be erected at Rugby.[9]

By 1901 the company was a major manufacturer with a labour force of about 3000 and an output of about 180,000 tons of finished material a year.

1901 For a topical overview of the company's works see The Engineer 1901/05/31

1902 The first integrated steelworks, involving conversion of iron ore to finished rolled steel shapes, was built at Cargo Fleet.

1902 Dorman Long acquired the other half of the shares in Bell Brothers, another leading company in the iron and steel industry in the North East[10]

1903 Acquired another substantial local firm, the North Eastern Steel Co[11]

By 1914 Dorman Long had a workforce of about 20,000 and was a dominant firm on Teesside and a major British steel producer.

1914 Directory: Steel Manufacturers of Port Clarence, Middlesbrough. [12]

1914 Steel manufacturers, bridge builders and constructional engineers, manufacturers of rolled steel girders and all descriptions of sectional steel for shipbuilding, bridge building etc., steel rails and billets, galvanized corrugated sheets and steel wire of all classes. [13]

WWI Major supplier of shells. Started to construct a £4.5 million plant at Redcar, Yorkshire,

1916 Acquired Walker, Maynard and Co of Redcar[14]

1917 The new Redcar steel plant was opened, making steel in the 'open hearth' process. A garden village, Dormanstown, was constructed for the workers using steel-framed housing[15]

1917 Acquired Newport Ironworks

1918 Cleveland Works opened.

1918 Acquired Sir B. Samuelson and Co[16] in order to improve the supply to Britannia Works.

1920 Acquired Carlton Iron Co[17]

1922 Dorman Long and Co won the contract to build the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

1923 The Subsidiary companies were liquidated and the assets transferred to Dorman Long[18]

1923 Acquired a controlling interest in British Structural Steel Co whose works were in Buenos Aires[19]

1924 December: won the contract to build the Tyne Bridge, Newcastle

1927 See Aberconway for information on the company and its history.

Over-capitalized and burdened with debts, Dorman sought refuge in another merger with an equally ailing neighbour, Bolckow Vaughan.

1929 Acquired Bolckow, Vaughan and Co; the latter controlled Redpath, Brown and Co; the bridge-building and structural engineering parts of Dorman together with the Redpath business would assume a commanding position in structural engineering[20].

1931 Deaths of past chairmen: Sir Arthur Dorman and Sir Hugh Bell; Charles Mitchell became the new chairman[21]; Arthur J. Dorman was managing director.

1933 Proposed amalgamation with South Durham Steel and Iron Co[22] failed to proceed[23] because of relative weakness of Dormans.

1934 Built the Tees Vertical Lift Drawbridge.

1937 Dorman, Long and Co purchased the Linthorpe works and scrapped the 6 furnaces; the site would be used for expansion of the Acklam Works[24]

1946 Dorman Long and Co purchased 600 acres of land between the Redcar and Cleveland Works to build the Lackenby development.

1947 Civil engineering work had been done at the site at Lackenby but construction of the new plant had not started by the end of the year. It was planned to build 2 new blast furnaces at the Cleveland Works.[25]

1949-59 Built railway locomotives. [26]

1951 Nationalised under the Iron and Steel Act; became part of the Iron and Steel Corporation of Great Britain[27]

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[28]. Operating activities transferred to 3 subsidiary companies; Dorman, Long (Steel), Dorman, Long (Bridge and Engineering) and Dorman, Long (Chemicals)l subsidiaries were Redpath, Brown and Co, Tees Side Bridge and Engineering Works, British Structural Steel Co and Dorman Long (Africa)[29]

1956 Annual meeting told about performance of the main subsidiary companies[30]:

1956 Commissioned a new blast furnace at the Clay Lane Iron Works of the Cleveland Works; a second new furnace was lit the next year[31]

1967 Became part of British Steel.

1968 The new 80in light plate mill at Lackenby works opens causing the closure of Ayrton Sheet Works. [32] [33]

1973 Site development of the existing Redcar Ironworks began.

1973 British Steel sold its carbon- and mild-steel wire-making activities at Warrington (Rylands and Whitecross) and at Middlesbrough (Dorman Long) into a new company Rylands-Whitecross, jointly owned by Tinsley Wire Industries and British Ropes[34]

1979 The number of blast furnaces drops to one - producing 3.3 million TPA.[35]

1990 they were merged with the Cleveland Bridge and Engineering Co and were still involved in the design, manufacture, fabrication and erection of many different types of structures such as bridges, buildings, offshore platforms, airports, etc, with one of the most recent high profile contracts, being the new Wembley Stadium in London, England.

2000 Formed in this year and now called Dorman Long Technology, based in Northants [36]

Development of the Cleveland and Lackenby Works 1949-1964[37]

"Dorman Long, founded in 1876, became a public company in 1889. It grew by a series of amalgamations which absorbed such famous names in the British iron and steel industry as Bell Brothers and Bolckow Vaughan. The first company in Britain to roll steel joists (in 1883), Dorman Long (Steel) Ltd. is the largest producer in the United Kingdom of steel for the structural industry. The company is responsible for approximately 9% of the steel output of the country and has a capacity of 2·6 million ingot tons per annum. Today it operates four steelworks, a wire works, a sheet works and a plastic-coated sheet plant.

In addition to universal beams and columns, Dorman, Long (Steel) produces 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.

Since 1945 Dorman Long have spent virtually £100m. on capital development, the outstanding feature of which has been the installation of a universal beam mill at the Lackenby Works where there is also a continuous billet mill and a rod mill. In December, 1963 a stabbing and blooming mill was brought into operation to serve a new universal plate mill, now under construction at Lackenby together with a new rod mill. The whole of the company's iron making is now concentrated at the Clay Lane blast furnace plant where three furnaces of 1,500 tons per day nominal capacity are in operation.

At the turn of the century a bridge and constructional department was created and the Dorman Long Structural Group today is responsible for approximately 22% of the steel structural engineering industry of Great Britain. It has built many famous bridges in different parts of the world and its other structural activities cover the construction of factories, power stations, multi-storey buildings and similar type of structures.

On the north bank of the Tees, at Port Clarence, Dorman Long (Chemicals) Ltd. operate an important chemical plant where crude tar and benzole from the South Bank Coke Ovens are refined to produce a variety of chemical products.

All the company's works are situated on the banks of the River Tees, affording exceptionally good facilities for the discharge of foreign ore and fuel oil, and the export of finished products. The Dorman Long Group, including its overseas structural-engineering companies, today employs 25,000 people."

Bridges constructed by Dorman, Long [38]

Bridges built by others with steel from Dorman, Long [39]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Wikipedia
  2. The Times, Dec 18, 1930
  3. Wikipedia entry on Sydney Gilchrist Thomas[2]
  4. The Times, Apr 26, 1882
  5. The Stock Exchange Year Book 1908
  6. The Times, Apr 01, 1920
  7. The Times, Jan 05, 1899
  8. The Times, Apr 01, 1920
  9. The Engineer 1900/05/04, p 472.
  10. The Times, Sep 05, 1902
  11. The Times, May 27, 1904
  12. Kelly's Directory of Durham, 1914
  13. 1914 Whitakers Red Book
  14. The Times, Apr 13, 1916
  15. The Times, Dec 18, 1919
  16. The Times, May 09, 1918
  17. The Times, Apr 01, 1920
  18. The Times, Apr 18, 1923
  19. The Times, Dec 24, 1923
  20. The Times 12 Octobe 1929
  21. The Times, Dec 16, 1931
  22. The Times 4 July 1933
  23. The Times 21 December 1933
  24. The Times Aug. 24, 1937
  25. The Times, Dec 12, 1947
  26. British Steam Locomotive Builders by James W. Lowe. Published in 1975. ISBN 0-905100-816
  27. Hansard 19 February 1951
  28. The Times, 4 January 1956
  29. The Times, Nov 15, 1954
  30. The Times, 4 January 1956
  31. The Times, Mar 21, 1957
  32. The Engineer of 12th April 1968 p581
  33. The Engineer of 19th July 1968 p102
  34. The Times, Aug 17, 1973
  35. You mention the number of blast furnaces dropping to one in 1979. This is not strictly true. Although the three biggest Clay Lane furnaces closed and Redcar Blast furnace operated onwards, there were in fact still two smaller blast furnaces in operation through until 1993. These were known as Numbers 3 and 4 and were at the Cleveland Works next to the Clay Lane Furnaces. Sometimes known as the Merchant Iron Plant. They were used to cover for the Redcar blast furnace during its 100 day reline and then went back to producing ferro manganese until they were closed in 1993. One was to produce a manganese product and I forget the other. 2018/10/13 MF. and 2019/01/02 MF
  36. [3] Dorman Long Technology website
  37. Extract from'Technical Details of plant - Development at Cleveland and Lackenby Works 1949-1964'
  38. Bridges: A few examples of the work of a pioneer firm ... publ. by Dorman, Long, 1930
  39. Bridges: A few examples of the work of a pioneer firm ... publ. by Dorman, Long, 1930
  • Biography of Sir Arthur John Dorman, ODNB [4]
  • Archives of the British chemical industry, 1750-1914: a handlist. By Peter J. T. Morris and Colin A. Russell. Edited by John Graham Smith. 1988.