Film ID:
NEFA 20033



Visitor Tabs


This Turners Film production was commissioned by the Consett Iron Company and looks at the history of iron and steel making and production at the Consett Iron Works, British Steel Corporation. Footage covers traditional and modern steel making processes.

Title: Consett Steel

Credit: Presented by Consett Iron Works a member of the Teesside and Workington Group General Steels Division, British Steel Corporation

The film opens with long shots of Consett Steel Works, the highest steel works in Britain, set in the rural landscape.

People browse shops in the streets of Consett town. The street signs Steel Street, Bessemer Street, Tin Mill Place, and The Smelters Arms, Castleside, pub sign document its steel industry origins. There are various shots of the town amenities: Consett Civic Centre, a town park, sailing on the nearby Derwentside Reservoir, the works football cup final, market day in the town. At the market place, there are close-ups of two old steel workers chatting. An exterior shot of Consett Technical College is followed by shots of engineering training for future steelworkers inside a classroom and a laboratory.

A Morris Minor car drives down an empty street in the village of Shotley Bridge in the Derwent Valley, once the heart of Britain's sword making industry. Shots of the Derwent River and the moors to the north follow. The commentary recounts the early history of iron blast furnaces and forges in the area, with colour picture prints and diagrams used to illustrate. There are exterior shots of an early industrial forge in Abbeydale in Yorkshire, and an interior shot of Benjamin Huntsman's eighteenth century steelworks in Attercliffe, South Yorkshire, with exhibits of cast steel. [Huntsman founded Sheffield’s industrial fortunes through the invention of the crucible steel process.] Two men are engaged in a re-creation of this traditional steel making process. Another exterior shot of the steelworks in Attercliffe, and of derelict charcoal furnaces in the landscape.

The next sequence records the open hearth furnace steel making process inside the Consett Steel plant known as the Bessemer process. Men shovel mill scale and lime into a long line of furnaces. There is a brief portrait shot of a steelworker in white cravat and dark goggles at the furnace controls.

A sequence of print stills illustrates the uses of iron for new forms of transport by land and sea: the opening of the Stockton to Darlington railway and Stephenson’s Rocket, the transcontinental United States rail lines, the opening of the Union Pacific iron rail lines, the steam ships.

Next, there are interior shots of molten steel production, aerial shots of the Consett steel plant and interior shots of the oxygen plant, with a large scale Head Wrightson boiler guided into place by workers.

Foreign ore deposits are unloaded from ships at the Port of Tyne. Various shots record the unloading from hopper to conveyor to elevated storage bunkers, with simultaneous loading of rail wagons. A map illustrates the route from Tyne Dock to Consett. A low angle shot records the specially designed rail wagons that carry the ore pulling out of the dock past camera, with shots along the route to Consett of both urban and rural landscapes.

A diesel engine pulls rail wagons of ore into the blast furnace, with a view of the plant from the train, and a travelling shot onto the elevated track, and automated unloading of the hoppers through the track. The train immediately heads back to Tyne Dock. Distributer bridges carry the ore to stockyards. A grabber on a transportation system carries and drops the ore to scale cars. A furnace skip travels up to the furnace towers. A train carrying steel girders travels past the furnaces.

Inside the plant, rivers of molten iron flow from the blast furnace, and the process of tapping out is pictured. The mechanical process of sealing the tap holes follows. The blast furnace process extracts pig iron from iron ore.

A torpedo steel ladle train pulls through the works yard, with close-up of a cauldron of smoldering molten iron, destined for the LD steel making plant for conversion into steel. The train takes molten iron from Teesside to Consett Iron Works.

The next sequence records the process of oxygen steel manufacture, with shots of giant furnaces, the adding of scrap, charging. Two workers with protective eye shields exchange a few words while overseeing the process. After charging, the vessel returns to an upright blowing position. Oxygen is injected from above by means of a waterproofed lance. A furnace man in a protected booth calculates the amounts of lime needed to produce the steel. He presses a button on an automated control panel that automatically adjusts the quantity of lime added to the blow. Further shots of the high temperature furnaces fed from a jet of oxygen follow. A steelworker in protective eye shields watches in the glow of the furnace.

Clean steam blows from the steelworks chimney.

There is a close-up of the lance moving upwards in the furnace. A steel worker shouts orders. Two steelworkers perform a spectographic analysis on a sample of red hot steel. There are various shots of the dramatic blowing process, with surges of white hot liquid. Giant ladles of molten steel move to the teeming bay. In the dark environment, the ladles pour steel into one mould after another, a train of ingot moulds. Sparks fly. Workers in hard hats oversee the process.

At the basic oxygen steel making shop, the ingots are pictured in the stripping bay, where the moulds are stripped leaving glowing red ingots. A row of glowing ingots stand on casting cars, which transport the ingots to the primary mill. There are shots of the automated plate mill soaking pit operation. A man rides past camera on the automated machine. An overhead charger descends. A reheated slab is grabbed from the soaking pits and is dropped onto the rolling mill conveyor.

An operator sits inside his booth at the slabbing mill, or operational pulpit. Close-up of his closed-circuit television.

White steel slabs drop onto a conveyor and are transported to the descaler. Jets of water and hanging metal chains remove most of the scale from the slabs. The slab moves back and forwards between rollers.

There are further shots of the elevated control booth and steelworkers operating controls. At the company’s Jarrow mill, continuous steel strips are rolled out, and coiled. Rimming steel is stacked at the plant.

An exterior shot of the plate mill follows. Inside, two men mark up the steel plate. A beam of light is projected onto a steel plate to ensure accurate positioning before cutting. A montage of shots follows of steel plate marked with their destinations across the world, including ship yards in the north east.

The types and uses of steel products are detailed with shots of shipbuilding at Tyneside shipyards, the launch of the Montrose, a submarine at sea, a ship at sea, a tractor, bulldozer, rows of cranes, car components, steel industrial building frameworks.

The next sequence records the Consett LD oxygen process with updated capacity, and shots of the furnaces in action.

The film closes with a general view of the smoking chimneys of the Consett Steel Works in the evening.

End credit: Produced by Turners Film Productions. Newcastle upon Tyne. England.