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The Skerne Ironworks was run by a Quaker partnership trading as Pease, Hutchinson and Ledward. The Skerne company built its reputation upon plates for ships, boilers, and particularly bridge building, and at its peak employed 1,000 workers.
1863 One of the partners, Edward Hutchinson designed and built the plant on the Albert Hill side of the North Eastern Railway, bounded to the north by the River Skerne, on a plot of 22 acres which had been bought from R. H. Allan in 1863.
1864 When the works opened in 1864 there were 40 puddling and heating furnaces, producing 240 tons of plates each week.
Within four years production had increased to 350 tons a week. Three railway lines led into the works, two carrying coal, the third from the pig yard. Two lines took away ash and rubbish, and finished products. The plant was still seen as relatively small of its type, so that internal haulage was done by horses, considered more economic than steam power.
1872 The death of Walter Pease led to a reorganisation of the business in 1872. A limited company, the Skerne Iron Works Co. Ltd, was established with £200,000 capital in £10 shares, to take over the stock and goodwill of Pease, Hutchinson and Co and carry on the manufacture of plates, bridges and girders. Edward Hutchinson's continuing involvement, as joint managing director with R. L. Pratt, was emphasised to prospective investors. The old company was described as a 'remarkable success' which had earned large profits. It was anticipated that plate production would increase to between 22,000 and 23,000 tons per annum , and that an expected net income of more than £30,000 would yield a return of over 15%. The expansion plans were based on an increasing expertise in bridge-building.