A very long timeline of steelmaking in Stocksbridge

The steelworks has been a big part of Stocksbridge for a very long time but in recent years trading difficulties have multiplied, leading to big job losses.

Thursday, 11th March 2021, 10:13 am

Current owner Liberty Steel brought optimism back to the business - until the pandemic created a new crisis leading to fears for 5,000 jobs nationally.

Today it is part of the Speciality Steels division which employs 762 in Stocksbridge - supplying the aerospace, oil and gas and the general engineering markets - and 865 in Rotherham.

1842 - Samuel Fox established a steelworks in a disused cotton mill in Stocksbridge, at that time a small settlement, and went on to build up much of the infrastructure

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Ingot in the VAR furnace (Vacuum Arc Remelting) furnance at Liberty Speciality Steels Stocksbridge.

1851 - The company developed the famous paragon umbrella frame

1860s - The Stocksbridge works includes furnaces and rolling mills

1877 - A railway line was built to link the steelworks with the wider region

1918 - Samuel Fox & Co joined with several companies to form the United Steel Company

A worker preparing an ingot to go into the VAR furnace (Vacuum Arc Remelting) at Liberty Speciality Steels Stocksbridge.

1967 - The works are nationalised into the British Steel Corporation and become ‘Stocksbridge Engineering Steels’

1999 - Taken over by Corus

2006 - Taken over by Indian company Tata

2009 - Big round of redundancies

2016 - 685+ redundancies

2017 – Tata sells entire UK steel business to Liberty for £100m

2018 - Liberty invests and announces plans to reopen mothballed furnaces

2020 - 283 jobs in South Yorkshire axed – including 250 in Stocksbridge - axed due to ‘political uncertainty and Brexit’

2020 - Plans announced to invest £60m and double production in Rotherham

2021 (Feb) - reveals it has been forced to ‘manage the impact’ on jobs due to plummeting aircraft sales in the pandemic

2021 (March) - lender Greensill collapses into administration raising fears for entire 5,000 strong Liberty Steel UK business which includes 12 steel plants including in Rotherham, Stocksbridge, Newport and Hartlepool.

A spokesman for steel unions – Community, Unite and GMB – said: “We have been encouraged by government’s commitment to taking on this challenge, and the growing consensus that to build back better and greener we need a strong and sustainable steel industry.

“No other UK company can produce the specialist steels made by Liberty’s UK operations.”

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.