Film ID:
NEFA 14055



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Industrial film produced in 1932 that records the process of steel production, from the quarrying of ironstone and limestone to the manufacture of steel at the Teesside blast furnaces and foundry of Dorman Long, on the south bank of the River Tees in Middlesbrough. This film was commissioned by Dorman Long to document the processes involved in producing the steel for the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Title: From Raw Material to Finished Product Reel 1

Title: Title: This film was made at Middlesbrough at the Works of Messrs. Dorman Long & Co., Ltd., Iron & Steel Manufacturers, Constructional Engineers and Bridge Builders whose output capacity per annum is 1½ million tons of pig iron and 1¾ million tons of finished steel.

Title: Steel is made from a mixture of iron ore, coke and limestone.

Title: Dorman, Long & Co., Ltd., having their own Coal and Ironstone Mines and Limestone Quarries, produce their own raw materials.

Title: A panorama of part of the works

Panoramic shot of the large scale Dorman Long steel works on the South Bank of the Tees river, with extensive sheds, blast furnaces, tall smoking chimneys, rail tracks, panning left and closing on a blast furnace in the foreground.  The shot fades-out using vignette in-camera effect.

Traveling shot of steel works from the Tees river.

Title: Where the coal comes from for conversion into Coke.

A team of two workers, men in flat caps, work at a rock face in an underground mine. One man, a filler, loads rock into a tub container. The other miner hand drills a small hole in the rock face with a ratchet drill in preparation for placing explosives. He places an explosive charge into hole and inserts a tool called a stemmer to pack down the gunpowder with clay.

Title: The Ironstone Mines

Title: The ironstone, on reaching the surface, is tipped on to Screens (or Sieves) which sort it out into its various sizes

General view of a gang of mine workers, dressed in flat caps, waistcoats and shirts, walking along the moving belt-conveyor screen on the floor, throwing off smaller ironstone rocks.

Title: Further sorting by hand from the Belt-conveyors

High angle shot of factory floor where a line of men stand at a waist-high conveyor belt of small ironstone rocks and sort ironstone rocks by hand.

Tub containers filled with ironstone rocks travel along rail tracks indoors at the mine, aided by workers who transfer tubs onto the revolving “rotary tippler” that empties ore into waiting railway wagons below. Two workers push a tub full of rocks into the rotary tippler, which pushes out an empty tub at the other end. The rotary wheel turns and the two workers return with the next full tub. Close-up of conveyor shaking rocks, as the selection makes its way along the production line.

Title: Loading the Ironstone into trucks for removal to the Blast Furnaces

Shot of ironstone rock falling from a chute into waiting open rail trucks.

Overhead shot of a steam engine pulling freight containers of ironstone around a bend in the rail tracks.

Title: Blasting at the Limestone Quarries

Fade-in using vignette effect. Panoramic shot along limestone quarry walls as they are worked on. Workers can be seen at the top edge of the quarry, working the rock. Works huts, rail tracks and open rail containers are located on the floor of the quarry.

Vignette shot of steam engine and containers waiting at the base of the quarry wall, a blast of smoke emerging from an explosion on a quarry wall ledge.

Mid shot of two quarry workers laying small explosive charges along a ledge (or bench) of the quarry wall, the explosions used to expose the limestone face. One of the men packs down the charge with a long pole called a stemmer, whilst his colleague pours explosive blasting agent into the hole. He briefly looks towards the camera.

Medium close-up of a quarry worker in a trilby hat connecting a wire to the detonator whilst perched on a rock ledge.

General view of the quarry rock face with workers moving on the top ledge.

Medium close-up of quarry worker who plunges the blasting detonator handle, setting off the explosion.

General view of explosion at the quarry rock face. Rock falls to the quarry floor. Clouds of smoke and dust rise from the rock and floor of the quarry.

Title: The Coke Ovens. Pushing out the Coke from an oven on to the Coke Bench

The next sequences depict the production line process for the use of coke as a fuel and reducing agent in smelting iron ore in a blast furnace.

Two workers, men dressed in flat caps, shirts and waistcoats, manoeuvre the heavy iron doors to the coke ovens using an iron wheel pulley system. An iron shunt pushes out the smoking coke from the oven onto the coke bench. A worker supervises beside the bench.

Title: Coke falling into buckets and being taken to the Blast Furnace

Coke falls from a row of hoppers into a giant round revolving container or bucket.

Title: Conveying the Coke to the Furnace-Charger

A manned, mechanized, rail mounted scale transfer car carries the buckets of coke along a track to the furnace charger at the steel works blast furnace.

A crane lifts the buckets of coke and queues them at the furnace charger.

Title: Ore and Limestone being dumped into the Furnace-Bucket

A man scrapes ore and limestone loads from a row of metal hoppers, tipping contents into rows of furnace buckets at the site of the furnace charger.

Close-up of ore and limestone hopper loads in transit, arriving on a mechanized transporter system, which opens to empty the load downwards.

Title: Attaching the bucket at the foot of the Furnace-Charger before commencing its 100ft journey to the top of the Furnace

Various shots of a furnace bucket (or skip car) as it is attached to a mechanical winch arm and lifted vertically to the top of the furnace, including low angle exterior shot looking up towards metal structure around the blast furnace. View of the bucket as it is lifted into its position at the top of the blast furnace.

Title: Charging the Blast Furnace automatically at the top, with mixed Iron Ore, Coke and Limestone. So long as the Blast Furnaces are in action they are fed by these “rounds” as they are called, without ceasing day and night

General view of a round of charging taking place at the top of the blast furnace.

Title: Tapping: About every 4-5 hours the molten iron is let out of the Blast Furnace, which act is known as “tapping” the furnace. Gulleys are formed in sand beds, through which the white-hot metal flows either direct into the ladles to be conveyed to the steel furnaces for almost immediate conversion into steel, or Iron.

Title: It is diverted into side sand channels leading to the “Pig Beds.” The main sand passage here is known as the “Sow” and its tributaries “Pigs”, hence the name “Pig Iron.”

Title: Forming the Pig Beds

Two men work to form the pig beds, an area of sand below the furnace, or a type of mould in which pig iron is cast, moving wooden patterns (slats) from one long ladder-like bed to another, whilst a foundry sand slinger throws sand into beds, which will create the mould shape once the pattern runners are removed. They are shaped like gigantic combs.

Close-up shot of one pig bed.

Workers knock out a clay plug from the iron hole near the bottom of the furnace, allowing the molten pig iron to flow out into a sand lined runner, or “Sow.” They watch as flames are seen in the furnace and molten metal begins to flow out.

Title: The “Slag”, consisting of the impurities and unwanted materials which, through the action of the limestone in the process of smelting, have become separated from the iron, floats on top of the molten iron and is drawn off or “tapped” separately. It flows along a different sand channel into ladles which convey it to the Slag, Concrete and Brick Department, where it is broken up and eventually used for road-making. Thus nothing nowadays is wasted.

Wide overhead shot of liquid slag flowing from a sand channel into a bath-like ladle.

Title: The Molten Iron passing into the Pig Beds

General view of the vast floor of adjacent pig beds, where molten metal travels downhill along the sow running across the pig beds. A furnace man works the cast iron shut plates at the junction of runner (pig bed) and sow, diverting the metal in to a pig bed.

Close-up of long metal rods used in the pig bed sand moulds to divert molten metal streams: any necessary running repairs and adjustments to the sand troughs are made.

Title: Handling of the pig iron by magnets and placing it in mechanical breakers

Title: The Molten Iron, instead of passing into Pig Beds, flowing down a sand channel into ladles in which it will be conveyed to the Steel furnaces for conversion into Steel

Title: The conversion into steel takes place as follows :- the molten iron is heated for about 18 hours at a temperature of 1450 – 1650 degrees Celsius which reduces to a minimum impurities such as sulphur and phosphorus; while, by frequent tests, carbon, manganese and silicon (without which steel would not be steel) are kept up to the percentage required for the particular type of steel being made by scientifically measured additions of materials containing those elements

Spotlit furnace worker tries to manoeuvre a huge swinging iron bucket on a winch. The bucket tilts and pours molten iron into another container leading to the steel furnace.

Title: When required, usually after 2 or 3 hours, the Molten Iron, (now known as the mixer-metal), is taken from the Mixer and conveyed to and poured into the Steel Furnace in which it is converted into Steel

Further shots, dramatically lit by spotlight, of the huge hanging bucket of molten iron pouring its contents into a trough to the furnace, accompanied by showers of sparks.

Title: The conversion into Steel takes place as follows. The molten iron is heated for about 18 hours at a temperature of 1450° - 1650° C, which reduces to a minimum impurities such as Sulphur and Phosphorus. During this process materials containing carbon, manganese and silicon are added in the necessary proportions according to the quality of steel being made.

Title: Tapping A Steel Furnace.  The Steel runs into a ladle which, when full, is allowed to overflow into a further ladle in order that the slag, which floats on the top of the Steel, may thus flow off and get separated from the Steel

General view of the “tapping” process in a steel furnace.

Title: Fettling. After the furnace is empty its banks may have become worn through the action of the Bath, as the heating process in the furnace is called, and so they are “fettled”, i.e. made up by basic burnt Dolomite Stone, which is thrown on the walls and fluxes with the heat in the furnace, forming a hard mass

A team of four men in long aprons hurriedly shovel up burnt dolomite stone and throw it on the furnace walls.

Title: The ladle when full contains 70 tons of molten steel and is then conveyed by overhead crane to a line of moulds into which it is emptied. The contents of each mould is known, on solidification, as an “Ingot” and the mould “an Ingot Mould”

High angle view of a ladle of molten steel carried by the strong arms of the overhead crane where its contents are emptied into a line of ingot moulds. The figures of workers can be seen on the workshop floor beside the huge moulds.

Title: In due course the ingots are stripped of their moulds

General view of the winching of a huge steel mould from the solidified steel ingot on a production line of ingot moulds.

Title: The ingot is then reheated for a period in what are known as “Soaking Pits” (which are brick lined holes in the ground) in order that a uniform temperature may be produced throughout the ingot prior to being rolled into section or shape in the Rolling Mills

Brief general view of an ingot winched into a soaking pit and the lid to the pit lifted back into place by the mechanical winch or crane.

Title: When ready the ingot is lifted out of the Soaking Pit and conveyed to the Cogging Mill, where the first process takes place of rolling it down into the particular section required, in this case a Steel Plate. Note throughout the machinery that is almost more than human

Various shots of a white hot steel ingot’s journey through the production process from soaking pit, where it has been brought to an even heat throughout, and on through the rolling mill, where the ingot passes and re-passes through live rollers, and is shaped into large blocks known as blooms or slabs.

Title: The ingot is now known as a slab or bloom, the ends being cropped and the remaining portion cut to suitable lengths for further rolling (N.B. A slab weighing 8 tons may be rolled into a Plate 7’ wide, 100’ long ½ “thick.) At this point the slab is placed for a short period in a reheating furnace (quite distinct from a “Soaking Pit”)

Various shots of the mechanized production line as the semi-finished product, a heated slab of steel travels through the process that reduces its size and changes its shape, at one point pushed along by a worker with a long rod or tongs. Another worker stands on an elevated platform above the production line, operating the controls. Some shots are lit dramatically with a spotlight.

Title: The slab now goes through further rolling in the Roughing and Finishing Mills. The heat given off by this white-hot Steel as it passes you on the roller is almost unbearable

The whit hot steel slab travels backwards and forwards along rollers as it is shaped into longer and thinner steel plates.

Title: The slab has now been transformed into a number of Steel Plates

The thin steel panels emerge at the end of a series of rollers and are ejected. A mill worker watches the steel plate moving off the production line and chalks onto a steel plate, riding the plate as it moves to the end. This may be on the cooling floor.

Title: Shearing Steel Plates

A mill worker operates the controls for the large shearing machine as the plate is manoeuvred into place on the rollers. Close-up of the plate and mechanized shearing guillotine as the edges are trimmed off the plate.

Title: Magnet Cranes for loading the plates on to wagons

General view of the mill workshop where giant magnet blocks attached to a crane load the steel plates into piles.

Title: Rolling of a Joist. A Joist, having received its first section and been reheated, being drawn out of reheating furnace

Title: Rolling of a Joist. A bloom, having been through the Cogging Mill and reheated, being drawn out of the reheating furnace

Brief frontal shot of a white-hot bloom emerging from the furnace.

Title: Joist going through the Roughing and Finishing Mill where it receives its final section

A worker in a cravat uses a long metal rod to move the heated steel joist into a shaping machine, or furnace

Title: Cutting the joist to length; the ends are returned to the Steel Furnace as scrap to be remelted.

The joist moves along horizontal milling machine and is cut into lengths by a huge saw-mill circular blade.

Title: Sheets. The large Fly Wheel, driven by an electric motor 1,800 h.p., turning 30 revolutions to the minute, which drives the line of Hot Mills situated down the centre of the whole Shop

Brief shot of the fly wheel, with worker beside the machine.

Title: First stage of Sheet Bars being rolled into Sheets in the Hot Mills

A team of workers lift thin steel sheets into a heated rolling mill. This is hot and dirty work. One of the men wipes his face with his cravat.

Title: Sheet being folded over for further rolling, and shearing off of the edges

Tracking shot through the hot mills workshop, from the large spinning fly wheel, along the production line where a team of workers fold over steel sheets.

Title: Sheets being galvanised; a process to prevent rust

Medium close shots of the galvanisation process, with steel sheets run through molten zinc leaving a thin layer of protective metal. Close-up of the sheets traveling along a conveyor.

Title: Sheets now galvanized, being numbered and then corrugated

A worker pulls out the thin galvanised steel sheet as it emerges from the galvaniser, using a tool and cloth to turn the sheet. Another worker then stencils on the number showing from which particular cast it has been cut. In the next shot a worker in apron manoeuvres galvanised sheets into a corrugating machine, piling completed sheet in a stack.

Title: Corrugated Sheets going through the Bending Rolls

Two workers feed the corrugated sheets into a machine like a large mangle that bends the sheets.

Title: Bundles of corrugated galvanized sheets being loaded for shipment

Tracking shot through storage warehouse where corrugated steel sheets are stored in stacks and men load the sheets onto an iron wheeled wagon.

Title: Rails. Rail section being cut to specified length

Brief shot of heated rail sections moving through the cutting machine.

Title: Rails being laid out on Cooling Bank.  The output of a night’s work

High angle general view of the large expanse of the cooling bank where steel rails are laid out in neat rows, head up and touching, like a solid floor of steel, on a framework of raised metal tracks along which each individual rail is slid. This allows the rails to cool evenly.

Title: Straightening the rail

A worker uses a levering tool to turn the rail as it is pushed through the straightening machine.

Title: The Drop Test. The rail has to stand a ton weight falling 30 ft. so many times without fracture in order to conform to the British Standard Specification

General view of the ironwork tower structure, in silhouette, housing the falling test weight. The weight is dropped from a great height onto the rail to test its breaking strength. Close-up of the rail after the weight is dropped.

Title: Inspecting the rails

Two men in suits and bowler hats are inspecting the steel rails from the previous night’s production, which are laid outside in neat rows like a solid floor of steel. One walks across the steel rails. The other man is kneeling on the floor of steel and using a mallet and chisel on a rail.

Title: Rails being loaded

Exterior view of individual rails being lifted by crane, two men silhouetted in the background and foreground who oversee the operation at the edge of the expanse of steel rails.

Title: Wire. Twenty-eight feet of Steel become ¾ mile of wire in 1 minute

High angle shot of production drums of the iron wire making machine spinning in the creation of steel wire coils. One of the drums stops spinning and a worker slides the large wire rope coil from the machine, bending the wire end around the coil.

Title: Wire being drawn. Note differences in thickness before and after drawing

General view of two men operating controls at rotating vertical drum machines for wire drawing. Close-up of wire threading through the die. White cardboard is placed behind the wire before and after the drawing process to illustrate the different thickness.

Title: Wire passing through the Galvanizing Bath

High angle shot onto factory floor where a worker prods the bath used in the galvanizing process.  Close-up of the parallel steel wire threads drawn through or under a belt of heated rock towards the bath.

Title: The manufacture of barbed wire

A worker supervises a machine for the production of barbed wire. Close-up of barbed wire emerging from the machine, also seen operating in slow motion.

Title: Coils of wire being put on rail for dispatch

A team of workers roll the large coils of wire onto wagons on tracks ready for delivery.