The day a new steelworks roared into life

Flames leap from the molten metal as the furnace begins operation.
Flames leap from the molten metal as the furnace begins operation.
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Fifty five years ago, the first steel flowed from a new £50m works in Hartlepool.

The site of the South Durham Steel & Iron Co was headline news with top dignitaries watching a momentous occasion in town.

When full production is reached next summer, and there is complete integration with the existing North Works of the comnpany, the labour force will reach between 4,800 and 5,000. Eventually, the two works will have a joint capacity of one million tons of steel plates

Northern Daily Mail reporter

The first steel furnace was tapped at the plant and rolling plates were predicted to arrive within a fortnight.

The first 200 tons of steel flowed from the furnace with company chairman Chetwynd Talbot, and director TJ Williams describing the product as being of excellent quality.

It was the start of a new era for a site which, just three years earlier, had been home to the West Hartlepool Civic Airport.

The launch had some slight teething troubles but generally, it was a day to remember - a day which Mr Williams said was the start of much bigger things to come.

Two hundred tons of steel on the first day would increase to 20,000 by October and 30,000 as more of the steel furnaces at the site got under way.

Four more furnaces were housed at the site although they were not expected to come into production until the following July.

But the Northern Daily Mail proudly predicted on that day in 1960: “When full production is reached next summer, and there is complete integration with the existing North Works of the comnpany, the labour force will reach between 4,800 and 5,000.

“Eventually, the two works will have a joint capacity of one million tons of steel plates per year.”

Were you one of the steelworkers who were there on that first day? Email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk