British Steel Archive

WhereGreat Broughton Village HallType of EventIllustrated Talk
WhenWednesday 12th October 2021TutorDr Joan K F Heggie

Dr Joan K F Heggie from Teesside University gave a very lively and interesting illustrated talk about the British Steel Archive Project which she had set up and led over the past four or five years. The focus of the project was the British Steel Collection which contained documents from iron and steel companies on Teesside from the 1840s to the 1970s. The collection had been gifted to Teesside Archives in the 1990s, but had lain untouched because of lack of resources and a huge volume of material. Dr Heggie was successful in obtaining a Heritage Lottery grant, as well as smaller grants from many other sources, and was able to recruit a team to sort, conserve, catalogue and digitize all the records, preserving them and making them accessible for future generations of historians, both amateur and professional, from all over the world. Accessibility was one of the conditions of funding, as was the development of archiving skills, the involvement of communities and the promotion of Teesside.

Once work started on the collection, it proved a treasure trove of fascinating memorabilia, such as:

1.  Wood engravings of the iron and steel-making process by Viva Talbot of Solberge Hall;

2.  Deeds, accounts and financial ledgers from over 50 different iron and steel companies;

3.  Management committees’ minutes;

4.  Blueprints and technical drawings from steel construction projects in many different continents, including Sydney Harbour Bridge;

5.  A map of the sites of the numerous ironstone mines around Teesside and the North York Moors;

6.  Photographs of steelworkers and steel production and of Middlesbrough and Port Clarence in their hey-day.

Dorman Long was the largest and most complex of the 50 iron and steel companies, but all had been global players and their legacy can be seen in countries as far apart as Burma (the Burma Railway), China (old Shanghai), Australia (Sydney Harbour Bridge), Egypt and East Africa. “Teesside has a legacy to be proud of” asserted Dr Heggie and she will proudly continue to promote the great Steel Archive and its global connections.

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