photos at Hadfields steelworks, Sheffield, UK

This is where I learned my trade. It was my first job after I left school and "set" my ideas about what a working environment would be for the rest of my life - and if that view is to change it hasn't happened yet. I benefited from a lot of wisdom from the experienced steelmakers who ran this works. It had to hold its own in a marketplace crowded with subsidised "nationalised" producers. The way this was done was to concentrate on what the company was good at, which was carbon and low-alloy steel billets and bars for predominantly the automotive industry. The "competitive edge" which defended the prices was consistently delivering quickly - then in the early 80's about 2 weeks from the phone ringing to a lorry going out of the gates, which compared to months from the nationalised producers.

After working at Hadfields I worked in a nationalised company, the then British Steel Corporation, at Stocksbridge Works, which was very proud of its high-quality end of the market reputation. It had been heavily invested-in and I worked on some very advanced plant - arc-heated secondary steelmaking vessels, the continuous caster, etc - but I valued the lessons of my private-industry days in knowing things which were not right.
the Melting Shop with charge well on the way to being melted-down image -

the Arc Furnace - a close-up view with the oxygen lances for refining

image - arcfnce

ingot going onto the rolling mill after being in the "soaking pits" (reheating furnaces)

image - ingmill

the Rolling Mill showing "cogging" and "finishing" stands side-by-side

image - themill

longer view, Rolling Mill ("soaking-pit" area at far end)

image - millagain