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British Industrial History

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Frodingham Iron Co

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1899.
1956. 350-ton Open Hearth Furnace at the Frodingham Works.

Frodingham Iron Company of Scunthorpe.

1859 William Henry and George Dawes made an agreement with Rowland Winn of Appleby Hall to lease land at Appleby for extracting ironstone and constructed furnaces which became Trent Iron Works.

1864 Rowland Winn also agreed with a Leeds brickmaker, Joseph Cliff, to take a lease on other parts of Winn's ironstone. Joseph Cliff and his brother-in-law, William Edward Hirst, were to have 93 acres in Scunthorpe and Frodingham, and 300 acres at Appleby. Before signing Cliff had begun to lay out his works in the village of Frodingham with technical advice on furnace construction from Stockton-on-Tees. The new firm took the name the Frodingham Iron Co.

1865 The first two furnaces were brick-built with stacks hooped with iron bands, and stood somewhat taller than those of the Trent Iron Works, being sixty-five feet high and measuring eighteen feet in the bosh, as compared with Trent's fourteen feet. The furnaces were fed from an inclined hoist from the eastern side, the ore and fuel being loaded into charging-barrows which were then pushed manually onto the hoist. One of the furnaces was fitted with a charging-bell to close the furnace top, thereby allowing the gas to be collected for use at the works. The first furnace was blown-in during May 1865, and during the early days of the campaign the operations were a complete success. The first casts gave a daily make of five tons; later this was increased to twelve tons. With full working a daily output of twenty tons was expected.

Frodingham's first furnace blew for only five months, from May to October 1865. Frodingham lost one of its furnaces completely in August 1865 when an explosion wrecked the furnace top and blocked the way to the second furnace with bricks and red hot cinders. This was the most serious explosion at the works; other explosions had occurred during the year as the furnace masters struggled to cope with the high lime content of the local ore.

Early in 1871, the Frodingham Works had taken some siliceous Northamptonshire ore from Wellingborough to mix with the calcareous Frodingham stone. The mixture worked well in the furnaces, and the firm began to receive regular consignments. This led to surveys around and to the south of Lincoln, where beds of the Northamptonshire ironstone were found during 1873-4. Small pits were opened at Washing borough, Coleby and Canwick, but the main source for Scunthorpe was the Mid-Lincoln Co's pits at Monks Abbey, just north of Monks Road, Lincoln. The firm later moved its activities to Greetwell Hollow. These workings were to serve Scunthorpe until well into the twentieth century.

The Frodingham Works used coke from the start, purchasing the Patent Coke Ovens at Penistone at the end of 1865. But Durham cokes were preferred to the nearer but inferior Yorkshire cokes. The ore was all charged in its raw state. Early attempts to calcine the stone in clamps were unsuccessful, since the ore was so limy that, on being exposed to the weather, the calcined material went to powder. Also, the ore tended to melt, even at the low temperatures generated in the clamps. There is no record of calcining kilns being built in the area during the early days although, by 1885, it is thought that the ore would serve if it were charged to the furnace straight from the kilns.

1871 Cliff built two more furnaces at Frodingham and replaced his earlier ones with two larger furnaces. John Gjers from Teeside advised on the new plant. The new stacks, sixty-three feet high and eighteen feet in the bosh, were put to work at the end of March 1871.

1890 Frodingham Iron Co made the first steel in the area by the basic process of Thomas-Gilchrist, after seeking outside specialist help[1]. When Frodingham first produced steel, emphasis was on the production of billets for the wire-drawing trade, but production was soon broadened to make angles, joists and sections.

Later became Frodingham Iron and Steel Co.

1904 Incorporated as a limited liability company

1912 The Frodingham plant grew by the absorption of neighbouring units. Frodingham Iron Co took over Appleby Iron Co to form the Appleby-Frodingham Steel Co.

1918 By the end of the First World War total crude steel production was approaching 300,000 tons, with pig production almost double that.

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

1931 The Frodingham plant absorbed the North Lincolnshire Iron Works and the Trent Iron Works in 1936.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] History of Scunthorpe's iron extraction and refining.