The last of the steelworks to open in the area was that of John Lysaght which started production in 1912. It was the only works to be built in Scunthorpe as a fully integrated Iron & Steel Works. The Lysaght’s works was always known as such even after it changed ownership and became the Normanby Park works.
John Lysaght (left)rn in County Cork, Northern Ireland in 1832 and was educated in Bristol, England. It was whilst at Bristol that he formed a friendship with a family who had developed a relatively novel process of hot-dip zincing to the production of galvanised buckets. A well-to-do member of the family who had no aptitude for business gave the firm to Lysaght as a free gift and so the firm that was to become so well known in Scunthorpe was born.
Before the year 1857 was through, the Orb trademark well known around the world.
During the early years of the 20th Century, the firm was looking to build a new works. W.R. Lysaght investigated many districts, but his final choice was the Lincolnshire ironstone area of Scunthorpe. It was felt the area offered plentiful supplies of open-faced and cheaply won iron ore and was also in close proximity to the Yorkshire coalmines. Working leases were agreed with Sir Berkeley Sheffield, the local landowner, and construction of the iron and steel plant began in 1910.
The name preserved a link to the past with Normanby Park being a former seat of John Sheffield, 3rd Earl of Mulgrave, a personal favourite of Queen Anne, who created him Duke of Buckingham and Normanby in 1703.
The iron and steel plant was erected and advice of John Darby of Brymbo. It consisted of three blast-furnaces with 11 foot hearts, a battery of 152 coking ovens, four 45-ton steel furnaces a 400-ton mixer, twelve 28-ton soaking pits taking 2-ton ingots and rolling mills designed for an annual output of 100,000 ton of sheet bar.
During the First World War Lysaght’s provided steel to Foster and Co of Lincoln, this was to build their ‘Water tanks for Mesopotamia.’ This was the code name given to the project to build the new war machines – the Dreadnought Tank.
One of the best known and well respected chiefs at the plant was W.J. Brooke, general manager and later joint managing director of the NormanbyPark works for 24 years until his retirement in 1944. He was described as a small man but with a big brain and one of the ablest metallurgists in the industry.
Brooke had gained wide experience that proved great value in Scunthorpe. His first seven years were spent with a firm of analytical chemists in Birmingham, after which he became steel plant manager at the Frodingham Iron & Steel Company, and general works manager of the Shelton Iron & Steel Company, Stoke on Trent. In 1918 he returned to Scunthorpe as the general manager of the Redbourn works, moving two years later to neighbouring Lysaght’s.
He worked in conjunction with W.R. Lysaght on a cheaper process of steel manufactory by what became standard methods of integration. This change of process took place in the early 1930s during the worldwide slump in steel demand.
At this time the steelworks at Scunthorpe were operating under great disadvantage against the continental production. The Lincolnshire ores have low iron content, and a much larger amount of coke was needed in manufacturing pig iron from them than is required under the basic Bessemer process of the continent. It was decided that if all the coke needed at NormanbyPark could be manufactured at a modern plant close to the blast-furnaces, the gas evolved in manufacturing coke and that produced in the blast-furnaces could be utilised together or separately for heat requirements in the making and rolling of the steel. The blast-furnace, the coke ovens and the steel plant, instead of being isolated production units, were linked in a logical sequence of production and utilisation of fuel, each type of fuel, whether lean blast-furnace gas, rich coke oven gas, metallurgical coke or coke breeze, being directed to use in which its heat value is most efficiently employed.
At the heart of the new scheme was a large new coke oven battery, it was the first in the country to be heated by blast-furnace gas, and this method of heating by means of a fuel which is low in heat value frees the coke oven gases necessarily produced in manufacturing the coke for use around the steelworks. The cycle of fuel conservation is thus complete, and a pioneering achievement had been affected towards cheaper steel.
Brooke had much more to offer than just his technical ability and foresight. He was proud of his labour relations record, for during his reign, there was never a major strike at Normanby Park, where a real team spirit is said to have existed throughout the works.
In 1937 a two-pan Greenwalt Sinter Plant was built, a third pan was added in 1945 – they were taken out of commission in 1960 after the building of a new Ore Preparation Plant and a new blast-furnace. In the periods between 1948 & 1952 the whole of the steel plant area was remodelled and the blast furnace department was enhanced at a cost of nearly £10 million. A rod mill at GKN’s Castle Works in Wales was dismantled and rebuilt at Lysaght’s.
The steel works moved to Oxygen Steelmaking in 1964 when the new LD/AC steel furnace produced it’s first cast on 1st September.
The Coke Ovens at Lysaght’s closed down in 1980 and the whole works closed down in February 1982. Below are a selection of pictures showing the last charge and last cast at the Normanby Park (Lysaght’s) Works on 25 February 1981