Prince Charles quite literally reignited Britain's steel industry when he brought a mothballed furnace at a South Yorkshire steelworks back into use.
The Prince of Wales visited Liberty Speciality Liberty Steels in Rotherham and lit the giant 'N-Furnace,' which was put out of use by previous owners Tata at the height of the steel crisis in 2015.
The restart is part of a multi-million pound investment by the Liberty House Group and the 800,000-tonne-a-year furnace, which turns scrap metal into specialised steels for uses such as vehicle gearboxes or aircraft landing gear, will now play a pivotal role in Liberty’s Greensteel strategy, which is designed to create a cleaner era for the industry in the UK.
His Royal Highness met executive chairman Sanjeev Gupta, staff and industrial cadets from Bradfield School and Rotherham College whom the company supports to develop their knowledge and experience of industry.
Mr Gupta said: “Switching this furnace back on today, after it had lain idle for more than two years, is a pivotal moment in the revival of UK steelmaking and we are very pleased His Royal Highness is able to share this hugely symbolic milestone with us.
"The occasion makes a very powerful statement that steel does have a future in Britain and that is very good news for the whole of our manufacturing and engineering sector.”
The switch-on of N-Furnace, the larger of the site’s two electric arc furnaces, marks the culmination of five months engineering work by a team of 35 people to repair and upgrade the equipment.
It will triple Liberty’s capacity to melt scrap into liquid steel at Rotherham, making the company the largest steel recycler in the UK, with a capability to melt over 1.2m tonnes a year.
Restarting N-Furnace will enable the plant to double production on its adjacent bar mill to over 400,000 tonnes a year.
Rotherham MP Sarah Champion said the furnace being reignited was "very symbolic" and like the area's "heart was beating once again".
Liberty paid Tata £100m for the business last year.