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Corby & Steel A Brief History. Roger Braithwaite Director zero environment Ltd tel : 01926 62 49 66 fax: 01926 62 49 26 East Midlands EP Seminar 8 th June 2010. zero. In the beginning:. There were navvies

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Corby & Steel A Brief History

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Corby steel a brief history l.jpg

Corby & SteelA Brief History

Roger Braithwaite


zero environment Ltd

tel: 01926 62 49 66 fax: 01926 62 49 26

East Midlands EP Seminar 8th June 2010


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In the beginning:

  • There were navvies

  • In 1870 they came to build the railway, and they found ….

Large deposits

of ironstone


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First brickworks

  • Turned out millions of bricks and became a major source of employment

  • Created lots of large holes

  • Then the ironstone


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(Mention Cd)

  • Had a high phosphorus content – made the raw iron brittle and unsuitable for steel making

  • Only 28-32% iron

  • Subsequently – Lloyd said : “ripping good stone under twelve feet thick”

  • Resulted in a lease for 40 years (to 1920)

  • Initially stone taken off site


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First iron making in Corby

  • 1910

  • By 1917 3 blast furnaces

  • Became Stewarts & Lloyds

  • By 1930 estimated 500 million tons of ironstone reserves


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Major expansion

  • Integrated steel plant – largest in Europe

  • Leading tube plant

  • Replaced works at Bilston, Clydesdale and North Lincolnshire

“Now and then a great commercial or industrial undertaking takes hold of the mind of the people and becomes a symbol of enterprise, high courage and progress. Corby, in its particular way, typifies the spirit of industrial resurgence”


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  • Most modern ore preparation plant in Europe

  • Two coke plants

  • Over 1 million tons iron

  • BOS – Electric arc = over million tons

  • Strip mills and rolling mills

  • Tube plants

  • Continuous weld

  • +++++


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“If the eventual steel closure had a bright side it was that the pollution also ceased with the steelmaking”

“The steel owners were much criticised for building workers’ houses so close to the works” (1945)


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British Steel

  • Nationalisation in1967

  • Closure announced 1979

  • Unemployment – disaster on vast personal scale


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“Courage & Realism”

  • No time for time-consuming lethargies of conventional town hall procedures

  • Decisive action and for fast, gut reaction decision-making

  • Joint Industrial Development Committee (District, County, Commission for New Towns & BS

  • 7 chief officers were replaced by 3


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  • “All were young and dynamic men in their 30s”

  • Council effectively placed executive powers in the hands of their own leadership

  • “You don’t get intellectual debates concerning high principle. It is very much plain speaking; straight forward argument”


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  • Council staff reduced by 20%

  • “There was, for example, a severe restriction on the number of planning and architectural staff, thus reducing the traditional post-war obsession with pre-planning and over-design which I believe to have been two of the major restrictions on creating commercial confidence and stimulating development”


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The new era

  • “To achieve industrial rejuvenation it is essential that a Council must control the essential ingredient, land. An early acquisition of land programme must be implemented to the detriment of other resource priorities ….”

  • Planning criteria were rapidly reappraised

  • …. all of it must go – down to the last pile of rubble


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  • Corby District Council, one of the smallest in the country, embarks on one of the biggest land reclamation projects in Europe.

  • 270 hectares, £21,000,000


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Environmental Health (March 82)

“It is understood that as yet no soil analysis has been carried out on the land recently purchased from BSC. When such samples are taken I would be grateful to know of any such results before soil is re-sited should they contain the following:”

List of 28 elements, compounds etc, including any with –

“Carcinogenic, mutagenic or teratogenic properties”


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BSC Report (Nov 1978)

  • “A survey of tanker services for treatment disposal within Corby works”

  • Related to effluents and sludges disposed of to “toxic ponds” and other settlement ponds etc (there were lots)


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A few quotes:

  • Many effluents can’t be disposed of in this manner due to their very high toxicity

  • These ponds (toxic ponds only) have a capacity in excess of 20,000,000 gallons

  • It is feared that many of the effluents are disposed of incorrectly


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  • BOS PLANT – slurry tank at gas conditioning plant – high ss, high chlorine, pH 12.8 – volumes unknown

  • Settling pond near cooling tower – ditto

  • COLD DRAW TUBE PLANT - Bonderite dripping tray at ‘A’ bay – very high sludge, pH 1.4

  • Alkali dripping tray at ‘A’ bay – pH 12.6

  • Oxalate tank at ‘D’ bay- pH 1.2


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  • DEENE COKE OVENS – Primary pump house for hot and cold liquor sumps – tar, oil, liquor – very high NH3, phenols etc

  • Three rich oil tanks and sumps – oil, nathalene, benzole etc

  • GALAVANISING PLANT – very high ss, high zinc, high NH3, ph 1.4


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  • GLEBE COKE OVENS – Lime sump near mother liquor tank, pH 12.1

  • Mother liquor tank – high NH3, high Cl, pH 2.2

  • Devil liquor – high NH3, high Cl

  • Benzole plant sump – sludge, oil, water, benzole

  • Seepage at the side of lime sump – very high NH3, acidic (pH 1,7), high Cl. NB this liquor is dissolving the walls of the lime sump at a very fast rate.


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  • MISCELLANEOUS – Gas condensate catch pots, around 150 to 160 – high NH3, CN and phenol etc, VERY TOXIC. About 4,000 gallons / day

  • Tar tanks at base of two gas holders – oil-water emulsion, tar, toxic material, VERY TOXIC. About 14,000 gallons / m

And so on ……….


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