Sheffield Forgemasters: Everything you need to know about the company following £2.58m sale to Ministry of Defence

Major employer and engineering firm, Sheffield Forgemasters, is set to be sold to the Ministry of Defence for £2.58m.

Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 3:30 pm
Updated Wednesday, 28th July 2021, 4:52 pm

The nationalisation of the 215 year old steel manufacturer, which makes vital components for British nuclear submarines, has been welcomed by unions and political figures like Ed Miliband for its ability to secure the company’s future.

But what is Forgemasters, why is it so important to Sheffield and how long has it been going?

Here is everything you need to know.

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Sheffield Forgemasters is one of the biggest employers in the city and is set to be nationalised in a £2.58m buy-out from the Ministry of Defence.

When was it started?

The origins of Sheffield Forgemasters date back to the 1750s as a small blacksmith forge. George Naylor set up the foundations for the business as a commercial operation with the building of the Millsands Steelworks in 1805. His son in law, Edward Vickers, later joined forces with him to form Naylor Vickers and Co..

Since then the company has been associated with many famous steel industry names such as English Steel, Firth Brown, British Steel and River Don Castings.

Sheffield Forgemasters is now capable of producing the largest and most technically challenging cast and forged steel components in the world.

The forge at Sheffield Forgemasters, which is responsible for a number of high-profile projects like creating vital components for British nuclear submarines.

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Sheffield Forgemasters sold to Ministry of Defence in £2.58m deal

What does it do?

Forgemasters is an industry leading, long-established steel manufacturer which provides major employment in Sheffield and the surrounding areas.

The company is involved in a number of projects and sectors but it has mainly been supplying steel castings and forgings for the global defence industries, including for submarine platforms and surfaces.

Sheffield Forgemasters is responsible for a number of high-profile projects like creating vital components for British nuclear submarines.

It is an approved supplier of high strength NQ1 and HY steel grades vital for Naval applications and has supplied cast and forged steel components for numerous submarine platforms and surface vessels including the Trafalgar, Vanguard and Astute UK submarine programs.

The company’s broad range of capabilities and facilities allows it to supply products ranging from cast components, such as valve bodies, up to 22 metre forged shafts.

Since 1950 Sheffield Forgemasters has also manufactured cast and forged nuclear components for multiple applications.

This includes components for fusion power exploration and the advancement of small modular reactors.

In 1990, it was awarded the ASME NCA 3800 accreditation which broadened its scope, enabling it to supply Westinghouse and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries with safety critical Pressurised Water Reactor (PWR) components.

It also creates high quality steel ingot and bar and is involved in projects with renewables, power generation and high pressure reactors.

How many people does it employ?

Last year, Forgemasters had a staff of more than 700, however after facing reduced demand throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, it announced in October that it would have to make some staffing cuts and 95 jobs faced the axe.

Workers at the company were given the chance to buy into the company as investors in 2007, following a management buy-out of the company.

The buy-out saved 600 jobs at the Brightside Lane company, which makes some of the largest and most complex forgings and castings in the world.

It also ended two years of uncertainty which began when the Forgemasters’ American owners collapsed, ensured Forgemasters’ suppliers would be paid in full and workers would get maximum protection for their pensions.