The Patent Shaft Steel Works Limited - The Factory in the Late 1970s
One of two Birlec UHP electric arc furnaces, 5.8 metres in diameter, rated at 45 MVA, with a nominal capacity of 88.5 tons.

They were charged with scrap from baskets that had been loaded in the scrap handling bay.

Each furnace had its own load cell weighbridge with a VDU that indicated the weight and grades of scrap required.

Oxygen for the furnace was supplied by an oxygen lancing rig.

The molten steel was tapped into ladles, then teemed into ingot moulds for transfer to the primary mill.

Teeming molten steel from the ladle into ingot moulds, before they were taken to the primary mill, where ingots were stripped from their moulds and heated to a rolling temperature of around 1,250 degrees centigrade.

They were then rolled to produce slabs or billets, which were cut to pre-determined lengths.

The primary rolling mill.

The plate mill where slabs were initially heated to around 1,200 degrees centigrade in a push-down or a rotary hearth furnace, in readiness for rolling.

After descaling, the slabs were rolled on a 4 inch high, reversing mill. The plate was rolled on heavy back up rolls to ensure that the gauge was even over the entire width of the plate.

After rolling, the plates passed through an eleven roll hot leveller, then along a plate cooling conveyor, to the marking bed.

Another view of the Loewy reversible rolling mill, in the plate mill.

The plates were carefully surface inspected before they were sheared, to ensure a constant width, then cut to length by a cross-cut shear.

The plates were then levelled in one of two levelling machines.

The bar and section mill where billets from the primary mill were cut to size and brought-up to a rolling temperature in a push-down reheating furnace, before transfer to the rolling mill.

In the rolling mill the billets were rolled to a wide range of angles, flat, or square bars. A high degree of straightness was maintained. Additional finishing facilities included cold sawing, heat treatment, shot blasting, pickling and oiling, painting and bundling.

Quality control of steel plates began with the steel itself. Two Quantovac emission spectograph analysers were used to determine the exact specification of the steel. Other tests included tensile, impact, and bend tests.
The sales and production planning department ensured that the correct product was  delivered to the correct place at the correct time.

Progress information was continuously transferred to the planning office where the planning was assisted by the ICL 1902A computer.

The maintenance section had a machine shop, a diesel repair workshop, and central engineering stores. Staff included engineers, bricklayers, erectors, carpenters, and plate layers.

The computer system provided a record of the sequence and magnitude of plant faults. This allowed steps to be taken to limit the effects of major plant breakdowns.

A training school was established where full-time supervisors taught a variety of specialised skills to apprentices, who were encouraged to attend courses in technical or commercial colleges in order to obtain appropriate qualifications.

A workshop in the training school.

The fully equipped surgery was available for the use of all employees. The factory was also regularly visited by a qualified medical officer. There were Works Safety Committees, a Joint Works Council, and a Staff Council where representatives of the employees could discuss a wide range topics with management. There were also modern kitchen and canteen facilities that supplied full meals or snacks to employees, and the Shaft Social and Athletic Club provided first class facilities for many sporting activities including football, fishing, snooker, badminton, and ladies' netball.

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