It was recorded, in 1854, that Samuel Beal & Company produced the cast iron armour plating for Isambard Kingdom Brunel's famous steamship the SS Great Eastern. Samuel Beale retired in 1864 and his son incorporated the company under the name Parkgate Iron Company Limited.
Two further blast furnaces were brought into operation in 1871 and further new plant added over the following ten years, this including a slab mill, a large plate mill, a billet mill and three open hearth furnaces. A further change of name took place in 1888 when the company was renamed Parkgate Iron & Steel Company Limited this representing a shift in its manufacturing base.
By 1908 the works had gone over entirely to steel production and until 1946 its main products were steel ingots intended for further processing, in particular steel plate and armour plate for the shipbuilding industry and solid bar products ranging from 3/8" to 9 1/2". The company also produced sectional shapes and in particular arches and props for the mining industry.
In 1946 Steel plate rolling ended and in 1953 the 11" continuous bar mill was completed, this was to roll both straight and coiled bar. In 1963 the new site covered some 370 acres and the Roundwood site, adjacent to the Midland Railway's main line to the north of the main works, and covering a further 220 acres, was coming on stream. The plant at that time included two mechanically charged blast furnaces feeding 10 open hearth steel making furnaces which, in turn, fed two primary mills for rolling blooms and billets and 6 finishing mills rolling a wide range of blooms,billets,slabs,sections,bars and strip. The Roundwood site was occupied by an 11 inch Continuous Bar Mill and a Narrow Hot Strip Mill. Capacity at the time was around 425,000 tons of carbon, low alloy and free-cutting steel and ingots.
The company was nationalised in 1948 along with most of the other U.K.'s bulk steel producers. In 1956 the company was bought by the Tube Investments group and major development work was planned for a site at Aldwarke, to come on stream in the 1960s. This included 'Kaldo' process 'Basic Oxygen Steelmaking' Plant which was fed from the blast furnaces at Parkgate, ladles being transferred by rail between the sites. This development also included hot rolling facilities.By the 1970s demand had changed and part of the old plant was demolished, the remainder of the Parkgate site closing in [with the closure of the heat treatment dept]. In 1976 rolling capacity was increased with the coming on stream of the Thrybergh Bar Mill.
Connections to the present site are maintained either through the 'New Yard', adjacent to the M.S.& L.R. line near Parkgate and Aldwarke station, or directly into the 11" mill from the Midland line at Aldwarke Junction.
The works has had an internal rail system from its early days and this now takes traffic from the 'New Yard' throughout the site. In the late 1950s the system was dieselised and the company took delivery of 10 four-coupled locomotives from Brush Traction of Loughborough. These were joined in the mid-1960s by six six-coupled locomotives, again from Brush. Although the network has been cut back over the years there is enough work to warrant its retention. The Parkgate fleet was joined by some locomotives from the Rotherham Works of Steel, Peech and Tozer on it closure, including examples built by the Yorkshire Engine Company of Sheffield.
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