Harry Brearley's great niece says shes 'enormously proud' of the Sheffield stainless steel legacy created by her family

A relative of Sheffield’s stainless steel pioneer Harry Brearley has said she is ‘enormously proud’ of his legacy on what would have been his 150th birthday.

Thursday, 18th February 2021, 7:00 am

Anne Rimer Brearley is one of the last surviving descendants of the great man, who is credited along with his brother Arthur with discovering the alloy which would revolutionise the metal industry in 1913.

The great niece spoke to The Star on Wednesday on the eve of what would have been Mr Brearley’s 150th birthday on February 18.

Anne, aged 79, who now lives near London but grew up in Sheffield, said: “I am enormously proud and pleased the discovery was made by the family as it has gone on to change the world.”

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Two surviving relatives of Harry Brearley(Inventor of Stainless Steel) visited the Portland Works,Randall Street,where he used to work.Pictured are Anne Brearley(Great Neice) and Hannah Brearley(Great Great Grand-Daughter) pictured in 2020

Mr Brearley left school at 12 to begin working as a cellar lad but a couple of years later got a job as a bottle washer for the steelmaker Firth’s and began studying metallurgy.

It was while working at Firth Brown’s research laboratory that he made his discovery.

He began to research new steels which could better resist the erosion caused by high temperatures. He then examined the addition of chromium to steel, which was known to raise the material's melting point, as compared to the standard carbon steels and in doing so invented stainless steel or rustless steel as he called it.

Anne said: "Harry was an old man when I was a a little girl but he was a great character to be around.

Harry Brearley Memorials - celebrating the Sheffield son and founder of stainless steel

"He was a humble man. His parents were so poor that only the parents had chairs to sit down at the table the rest of the eight children had to stand.

"He knew what it was like to be from a struggling family and was a very philanthropic man who used his wealth to give back to the community which is something to be very proud of.”

Harry set up the Freshgate Trust Foundation, with the aim of making life ‘more bearable, cheerful and attractive’ for those of limited means, and the charity today awards grants of around £100,000 a year for projects around South Yorkshire.

Anne added: “I think it’s important that the family discovery is still remembered in Sheffield a city that has such strong roots with steel even now.”