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Timeline history of West Hartlepool Steelworks

Brief History of Steel Working in Hartlepool


Circa 1847 Thomas Richardson set up the Hartlepool Iron Works.

Circa 1855  John Pile opened the West Hartlepool Rolling Mills and built blast furnaces to supply plate for his shipyard.

1867   Liquidation of Pile, Spence and Co and the West Hartlepool Rolling Mills were idle for some time.

Circa 1868 The Hartlepools’ first Parliamentary election won by Ralph Ward Jackson who defeated Thomas Richardson, son of Thomas, the late owner of the Hartlepool Iron Works. Thomas Jnr. Bought the West Hartlepool Rolling Mills for £21,677.3s.0d and extended them. He increased the workforce from 500 to 2,500.

1874  Thomas Richardson Jnr. extended the site. The Mills were extended from 6 to 12 acres and 3 new blast furnaces covered 20 more acres.

Richardson bought the Longhill Estate of 150 acres close to his works and it was here that most of his workforce lived. The area was iosolated with no drainage, sanitation or lighting and became known as Wagga.

1880 Thomas Richardson ran into difficulties and in 1881, Matthew Gray, son of shipbuilder William Gray and Arthur Gladstone took over the works and they became West Hartlepool Steel and Iron Company.

1881 Seaton Carew Iron Company formed.

1896 Matthew Gray died, Mr Gladstone having retired in 1891 and the West Hartlepool Steel and Iron Co. blast furnaces were taken over by the Seaton Carew Iron Company.

Meanwhile, Christopher Furness who ran the Furness Shipping Line amalgamated with Edward Withy and from 1891, Furness Withy was building and running its own ships. Furness recognised that if he owned the steel works too, he would not need to buy steel to build his ships.

1898, Furness bought Stockto Malleable, Moor Steel and Iron Works and the West Hartlepool Steel and Iron Company. This amalgamated group became known as South Durham Steel and Iron Company.

1902-4 brought a recession and plate manufacture was concentrated on the South Durham Works, materials being supplied by Cargo Fleet Iron Company.

1912 Christopher Furness died and the 1st War followed.

1913 Steelworks Footbridge linking Oxford Street/Greatham Street through the heart of the North Works and railway lines  to Seaton seafront.

1928 South Durham Steel and Iron Company acquired Seaton Carew Iron Company. The West Hartlepool works then covered 303 acres.

1945 After the 2nd War , it was decided that plate production be increased in West Hartlepool and a new site was planned.

1951 Steel was nationalised under the Iron and Steel Act and South Durham Works became part of the Iron and Steel Corporation of Great Britain.1961 The South Works as they were known were opened on land between Greatham and Seaton which had been West Hartlepool Airport.

1967 North and South Works became part of British Steel.

1971 Last plate at no. 1 Light Plate Mill

1975 North Works slag banks removed

1977 North Works completely demolished

1977  1500 Steel jobs lost in the town. Last steel produced in Hartlepool

1978 Cooling towers demolished

1990 Last cooling tower of South Works demolished.

1999 British Steel taken over by Anglo Dutch Corus

2007 Corus became Indian owned Tata Steel. Only pipe making left at Hartlepool and currently an uncertain future.

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