Bessemer steel and colonel eardley wilmot

Bessemer Pig
Bessemer Steel works at Sheffield
The first malleable Iron Gun
Swedish Iron
Investigations at Woolwich
Bessemer steel-making at Sheffield

During the time that the works at Sheffield were being erected, I was very busy endeavouring to discover all the non-phosphoric iron ores in this country, and, after many analyses, the chief were found to be the hematites of Lancashire and Cumberland, and the Forest of Dean, and some spathose ores at Weardale and at Dartmoor. The hematite pig irons were, however, fatally contaminated with phosphorus, although some of these rich ores were absolutely free from this deleterious element. I found, on repeated analyses, that the mines of the Workington Iron Company yielded a very pure ore, but that their pig-iron contained much phosphorus. Here, at least, I had a field to work upon; and I wrote to the Secretary of the Company, asking him to name a day when I could go down and meet the Directors. An early date was fixed, and, at our interview I told the Directors that I, and many others, would become large buyers if they could make a pig-iron as free from phosphorus as the hematite ore was before smelting. I further said, that if they had no secrets, and would show me everything they were doing, I did not despair of finding out the source of contamination, and of pointing out a way of producing pure pig-iron that would command a ready sale wherever my process was carried on. The Board expressed their willingness to afford me every facility, and sent for their furnace-manager, who was instructed to take me over the works, answer all my questions, and furnish me with samples for analysis of all the raw materials they employed. I went round with him, and collected small samples for analysis of the coke obtained from different sources, the limestones from all the pits they worked, and samples of the hard and soft hematite ore from each of their different mines. The limestones contained but few shells, and I was quite at a loss to imagine where the phosphorus came from. As we were returning to the offices near one of the railway sidings, we came upon a large heap of slags and cinder. "What is that?" I asked the manager. "Oh, that is what we flux the furnace with," he said. "Yes, but what is it?" "It is a furnace slag, rich in iron," he replied. "We send into Staffordshire lots of our fine ore for fettling the puddling furnaces, and after they have done with it they send it back to us; in fact, we could not get a fluid cinder in our blast furnaces without it." "All right!" I said, "the cat is out of the bag now, and the mystery is all over." And so I found that the Staffordshire ironmaster, after purifying his phosphoric iron in the puddling furnace, and transferring its impurities to the hematite ore, sent the ore back again to Cumberland, and succeeded in spoiling the purest iron ore which this country possessed.

I was in high spirits at this discovery, for I now felt certain that we should soon have thousands of tons of British iron suitable for the production of steel by my process.

Before leaving the works, I arranged to take all these samples of raw material to London, and get my own chemist to make a careful analysis. Then, choosing the fittest materials in each case, furnace charges could be formulated by our chemist, Professor Henry, of course omitting the phosphoric slag, and substituting for it the dark shale of the coal measures, so as to give a sufficiently fluid cinder. These theoretical furnace charges were afterwards sent to the Workington Company, with the following offer on our part, viz., the company were to use these charges for at least twelve hours after they believed that all the old materials had passed out of the blast furnace, so as to be quite sure that the old impure matters had been entirely got rid of, and then they were to run me 100 tons of this new pig-iron, which I undertook to purchase, whatever its quality might be. They were instructed to make a large letter B on the mould pattern used for casting, so as to distinguish this pig from all others. This plan of marking was duly carried out, and I got my 100 tons of "Bessemer Pig," the first that ever was made. This brand of iron is, up to the present day, quoted in all price lists, and in all the iron markets of the world, and has placed at our disposal millions of tons of high-class iron, such as had never before been produced in this country.

The new steel works of Henry Bessemer and Company, at Sheffield, had been erected some months, and the first converter mounted on axes was put to work in 1858. At first our attention was chiefly directed to the manufacture of high-class tool steel, for which our quotation was £42 per ton, as against £50 or £60 by other makers. All this tool steel was made from Swedish charcoal pig-iron, costing only about £3 per ton more than English brands. The excellence of the steel so made is best proved by the fact that during the two years that this branch of the steel trade was carried on by us at Sheffield, we supplied

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