25 ton capacity bessemer converter CLICK TO ENTER SITE

The Acid Bessemer process was invented in 1856 and has been in use at Workington since 1872

Workington Iron and Steel.

Workington is situated in West Cumbria (formerly West Cumberland) on the fringes of the Lake District in the North West of England.

On 6 November 1856 the Workington Haematite Iron Company Ltd. was established to manufacture pig iron from locally mined heamatite ore.Two blast furnaces were erected at Oldside, just north of the town. Bessemer steelmaking commenced in June 1877. In 2005, CorusRail continue to roll rails from reheated steel blooms, but the mill will close down in 2006.

When I was a small boy, my dad, who was a shift production manager in the Bessemer department would occasionally take my brother and I there to visit. The highlight was when we got the chance to control one of the two Bessemer converters under the watchful gaze of the blower and his team in the blower's box. The blower would keep his foot pressed on the dead man's pedal and we'd gaze in wonderment through the window as a vessel with 25 tons of molten metal would respond to our hand movements on the control column.

The bessemer converter was charged with molten iron in the horizontal position, the air blast was turned on, and then the vessel rotated to the vertical position (shown) while the bessemer shop was showered by an inferno of sparkling metal particles like the most fantastic fireworks display ever seen.

Looking back, it is easy to understand what a deep impression that left on me. I consider myself privileged to have experienced the spectacle of steel making by the bessemer process. I am doubly fortunate to be amongst those who witnessed the final heat in July 1974.

This is my small tribute to those West Cumbrian men and women who have iron and steel in their blood and to the generations who made Workington rails a familiar sight around the world. Visit the railway wherever you are, and there is a good chance you'll see Workington proudly rolled into  the web of the rail.     Phil Baggley.
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