Stewarts & Lloyds - History: Stewarts & Lloyds - Corby Steelworks

Corby Steelworks

52°29′50″N 0°47′10″W / 52.4972°N 0.7862°W / 52.4972; -0.7862 The company decided to move to Corby, Northamptonshire in November 1932, enabling them to make use of the local iron ore to feed their blast furnaces and Bessemer steel converters. The new construction was carried out to a very tight timetable, from the clearing of the site in 1933 the first of the Corby blast furnaces was lit in May the following year. This was followed by coke from the new coke ovens the following month and the ore preparation and Sinter Plants in September. No.2 blast furnace was lit in November and the first steel came from the Bessemer converters on 27 December. The last of the originally planned blast furnaces (No.3) was lit in October 1935. Following a rebuild to increase capacity of No.2 furnace Corby works became the third cheapest pig iron producing plant in the world.

Looking for greater capacity, in 1936, a fourth blast furnace, a second sinter plant, a new Bessemer plant and new coking capacity, six new ovens being added to the existing batteryand a new battery of 21 ovens were constructed and in operation by the end of 1937.

To add to steel production two electric arc furnaces were built in 1941. The ingots cast from the electric furnace were of a different shape and size to any others and were shipped to Bilston for further processing.

By 1953, the company, making use of its original 8 work sites, became the main producer of steel tubes in Scotland producing around 250,000 tons of tubing, the bulk of which were used at the Corby site.

Further developments took place after the Second World War, with an open-hearth steel making facility being commissioned in 1949. The Glebe coke ovens were extended to their maximum number of 141 in 1953 and plans for No. 6 coke oven battery were formulated shortly after. These were to be built on old quarry workings to the north of the Open-Hearth building and enough land was levelled to accommodate a complete blast furnace plant as well as for the coke ovens by-products plant and gasholder. No. 6 battery of 51 ovens was commissioned in 1961; however, after the footings were installed for the blast furnace, the rest of the construction was put "temporarily on hold", and work was never continued.

In an attempt to make the Bessemer plant more efficient it was trialled with a blast enriched with oxygen, but when a Basic oxygen steelmaking test plant was built in 1960, a major change in steel production at the works was signalled. Trials were conducted using the LD process and in 1965, with a three vessel plant coming on stream the Bessemer plant closed, having produced almost 18 million tons of steel since 1934.

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