British Steel Scunthorpe plant

From Global Energy Monitor
This article is part of the Global Steel Plant Tracker, a project of Global Energy Monitor.

British Steel Scunthorpe plant (also known as Scunthorpe Steelworks, Appleby-Frodingham Steel Co (predecessor), Normanby Park works (predecessor), and Redbourn Hill Ironworks (predecessor)) is a 3200-thousand tonnes per annum (ttpa) blast furnace-basic oxygen furnace (BF-BOF) steel plant in England, in United Kingdom. British Steel Scunthorpe plant operates a blast furnace (BF) and basic oxygen furnace (BOF).


The map below shows the exact location of the steel plant in North Lincolnshire, in United Kingdom.

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Scunthorpe was formed when three steel plants in Scunthorpe merged, Appleby Frodingham Ironworks, Normanby Park works, and Redbourn Hill Ironworks.

Applebly Frodingham ironworks

Frodingham Ironworks was completed in 1865 in Scunthorpe village and Appleby Ironworks in 1876.[1] Crude steel was first made at Frodingham in 1887, though the steel was not viable until 1890.[1] In 1912, Appleby Iron Co and Frodingham Iron Co were combined to become Appleby-Frodingham Steel Co.[1] As of 1937, the plant capacity for crude steel was 4.8 million tonnes per year.[1] In 1945 the works was the largest in Britain, with a capacity of 700 million tons pa (5.5% national production), and occupied a 1700 acre site.[2] In 1939 two 22 ft diameter blast furnaces together with associated coke ovens and sinter plant were constructed on a site south of the earlier Appleby works, the location of the former North Lincolnshire Iron works.[2] Here future expansion of the plant was focused replacing plant at the Frodingham works.[2]

In the early 1950s the company expanded two of its blast furnaces (named "Queen Mary", No.9; and "Queen Bess"[2]), and in 1951 took the decision to start the construction of two further new furnaces to a similar diameter.[3][4] The new furnaces were officially opened in mid 1954, and older plant abandoned, with total capacity increased from 900,000 to 1,250,000 tons pa.[4] The expansion led to the closure of the iron works at Frodingham and the North Lincs works;[2] the last blast furnace in operation at Frodingham, No.1, was shut down in May 1954.[5]

Normanby Park works, John Lysaght

At the beginning of the 20th century John Lysaght was seeking entry to primary steel production to feed his rolling mills in South Wales.[6] Discussions and agreement with Sir Berkeley Sheffield on a lease of the iron ore containing land were made in 1905, and the decision was taken to establish a steelworks, with the estimated capital cost at under £350,000.[6]

During the Depression of 1920–21 the works was temporarily closed – iron and steel production was resumed in 1922 but the works operated at under capacity for the remainder of the decade.[6] At the beginning of the Great Depression of the 1930s the works was reconstructed at a cost of £400,000 to specialize outside general mass market steels – as a result capacity utilizing was at 80% compared to an industry average of nearer 50%, though with very low profit margins.[6] During this period the works was primary supplier to the company's Orb Works in Newport.[6]

Due to oversupply in the industry the blast furnaces were again temporarily shut down in 1938.[6] In 1939 the company was notified by government official that the works work be required to supply steel for projectile Shells.[6]

During the post war period the works was planned to increase output to 500,000 ingot tons pa – by 1955 this figure had been exceeded with production at 600,000 tons pa.[2] Two Linz-Donawitz process converters of 60 tons capacity each were installed in 1964.[2]

Redbourn Hill Ironworks

The Redbourn Hill works shares were held by Monks and Hall (Warrington) in 1905, but sold to the Cwmfelin Steel and Tinplate Company in 1907/8. Initially the works functioned as a source of pig iron.[7][8] A single 100 ton oxygen based (Oberhausen rotor) steelmaking converter was installed at Redbourn in 1961.[2]

The Redbourn works was originally supplied by two hand charged furnaces built in 1875 and furnaces 3 and 4 were added in 1909 and 1919.[9] In 1951/2 the 1875 furnaces were replaced by a single furnace and No.4 furnace was closed in 1977, and No.3 furnace was closed in 1979; and the last furnace, No.2 was shut down in October 1979.[9]

British Steel Corporation period (1967–1999)

Nationalisation of UK steel operations led to the formation of the British Steel Corporation (BSC) in 1967.[10] Scunthorpe was chosen by the corporation as one of the five main production centres,[10] formally within the Midland regional division of BSC, and designated as a general steel producers.[2] Placing the three steel producers in the town under shared ownership gave opportunities for rationalization and greater efficiency – excess liquid steel and sinter were transferred between the works by rail.[2] Within the whole of BSC the 7 ft plate mill at Appleby-Frodingham (and at West Hartlepool) was closed and production transferred to Lackenby, North Yorkshire in around 1970.[2] Under the rationalization scheme known as the 'Heritage Programme' closures corresponding to 1.59 and 0.81 million tons of ingot steel were announced for Appleby-Frodingham and Redbourn works to take effect in 1973/4 and 1972/3 respectively.[2]

In the early 1970s the UK government announced £3 billion investment plan to modernise the companies main steel production sites (Scunthorpe, Lackenby, Llanwern, Ravenscraig, Port Talbot), increasing productivity by 50%, and reducing the total workforce by 50,000.[11]

At the around the beginning of the 1980s BSC made significant cutbacks to operations at Scunthorpe: all the ore mines closed; and most of the Redbourn works was shut,[12] use of the Lysaght's Normanby Park site ended in 1981[10] with all liquid steel production at the site ended by 1979.[9]

BSC was privatized in 1988 by the British Steel Act 1988. By 1990 the steelworks had been entirely converted from the open hearth to basic oxygen steel making process – the works employed 7,300 persons and had a production capacity of around 5 million tons pa of steel.[10]

Corus/Tata period (1999–2016)

In 1999 BSC merged with Koninklijke Hoogovens of the Netherlands to form Corus.[13][14] Corus was acquired by Tata Steel in 2007, forming Tata Steel Europe.[15]

British Steel period (2016–present)

In April 2016 the long products division including the Scunthorpe works as the only primary steel producer and main employer was sold by Tata to Greybull Capital for a nominal sum of £1.[16] The business was renamed British Steel Ltd.

In 2019, British Steel was nearly fined £500 million for violating carbon emission laws, and faced a bill of more than £100m to buy the necessary carbon allowances.[17]

In 2020, British Steel was acquired by the Hebei Jingye Group for 50 million pounds after struggling financing, and ownership of the British Steel Scunthorpe plant was transferred to the Hebei Jingye Group.[18][19] The Hebei Jingye Group announced it would invest over a billion pounds into upgrading the plant and prevent further job losses.[20]

In January 2021, a major blast occurred at the plant, likely caused by wet scrap being added to a furnace; luckily, no one was injured.[21] That same month, contracted scaffolding workers at the plant from Actavo were protesting for higher wages, and had been on strike for 12 weeks as of late January.[22]

Plant Details

Articles and Resources


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Appleby-Frodingham Steel Co, 1937 British Industries Fair, Retrieved from: Grace's Guide, Retrieved on: Mar. 16, 2020
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Heal, David W. (1974), "The Steel Industry in Post War Britain", Industrial Britain, David and Charles, ISBN 0 7153 6565 7
  3. "The British Iron and Steel Industry in 1952" (PDF), The Engineer, vol. 195: 29–31, 2 January 1953
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The British Iron and Steel Industry in 1953 (No.II)" (PDF), The Engineer, 197: 66–68, 8 January 1954
  5. "Progress led town's No 1 furnace to be cast aside", Scunthorpe Telegraph, 14 July 2011, retrieved 19 April 2016
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Jones, Edgar (1990), "The Growth of a Business, 1918–1945", A History of GKN, vol. 2, pp. 31–33, 51–54
  7. Burn, Duncan Lyall (1961), The Economic History of Steelmaking 1867–1939 : A study in competition, Cambridge University Press, p.338, footnote
  8. Tolliday, Steven (1987), Business, Banking, and Politics: The Case of British Steel, 1918–1939, p. 133
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 "The death of ironmaking at Redbourn: Today marks anniversary of historic day", Scunthorpe Telegraph, 12 October 2015, Retrieved on: Apr. 19, 2016
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 Pocock, D.C.D. (1990), Ellis, S.; Crowther, D.R. (eds.), "The Development of Scunthorpe", Humber Perspectives : A region through the ages, pp. 332–344, ISBN 0-85958-484-4
  11. Clay, Rob; Harman, Chris (May 1973), "British Steel in Crisis", International Socialism (58): 15–16, retrieved 16 October 2016
  12. Fisher, Nigel (14 April 2016), "British Steel Scunthorpe pictures of the past as Greybull plans to bring back historic name at Tata steelworks", Scunthorpe Telegraph, Retrieved on: Apr. 19, 2016
  13. A new force in the metals industry – background to the proposed merger (PDF), British Steel / Koninklijke Hoogovens, 7 June 1999, archived from the original (PDF) on 31 March 2016, Retrieved on: Apr. 19, 2016
  14. "History of Britain's steel industry", The Guardian, 1 February 2001, Retrieved on: Apr. 19, 2016
  15. See Tata Steel Europe
  16. Tata Steel UK agrees sale and purchase agreement for long products Europe business (press release), Tata, 11 April 2016, Retrieved on: Apr. 19, 2016
  17. "How British Steel ended up facing closure - but there is hope". GrimsbyLive. 2019-05-15. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 2022-02-20.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Our parent company". British Steel. Archived from the original on November 21, 2021. Retrieved January 15, 2022.
  19. "British Steel: Takeover by Chinese firm completed". BBC. 2020-03-09. Retrieved 2022-02-20.
  20. Simon, Jack (2019-11-13). "Why a Chinese firm really bought British Steel". BBC. Retrieved 2022-02-20.
  21. Mills, Kelly-Ann (2021-01-29). "Shocking moment huge explosion and fireball caught on camera at UK steelworks". mirror. Retrieved 2022-02-20.
  22. "British Steel workers vote overwhelmingly to continue strike action". Morning Star. 2022-01-14. Retrieved 2022-02-20.
  23. 23.0 23.1 "British Steel - Building Stronger Futures with high-quality steel products". British Steel. Archived from the original on January 19, 2022. Retrieved January 24, 2022.
  24. "Transactions : North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, Newcastle-upon-Tyne : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming". Internet Archive. Retrieved 2022-02-20.
  25. "Greybull Capital: rescuer of distressed firms or vulture fund?". the Guardian. Archived from the original on |archive-url= requires |archive-date= (help). Retrieved January 27, 2022.
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 "Map of EU Steel Production Sites" (PDF). Eurofer. 2019-11-13. Retrieved 2022-02-20.
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 27.4 27.5 "How we make steel". British Steel. Retrieved 2022-02-20.
  28. "Our locations". British Steel. Retrieved 2022-02-20.
  29. Oliver, Nicola. "400 British Steel workers to lose their jobs as firm cuts workforce in takeover". Mirror. Archived from the original on |archive-url= requires |archive-date= (help). Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  30. 30.0 30.1 "ISO14001 Certification" (PDF). British Steel. 2018-01-18. Retrieved 2022-02-20.

Other resources

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