was a major British steel
producer. It originated as a nationalised
industry, the British Steel Corporation
formed in 1967. This was converted to a limited company, British
Steel PLC, and privatised in 1988. It was once a constituent of the
FTSE 100 Index
but following mergers,
the business is now owned by Corus
BSC was formed from the assets of former private companies which
had been nationalised, largely under the Labour Party
government of Harold Wilson
(1964-1970). Wilson's was the
second attempt at nationalisation, Clement Attlee
's Iron and Steel
Corporation of Great Britain
having been largely privatised by
of the 1950s. Only one steel company, Richard Thomas and Baldwins
remained in public ownership throughout.
BSC was established under the Iron and Steel Act 1967, which vested
in the Corporation the shares of the fourteen major steel
These companies commanded some 200 wholly or partly owned
subsidiaries in the United Kingdom and overseas in Australia, New
Zealand, Canada, Africa, South Asia, and South America.
Dorman Long, South Durham and Stewarts and Lloyds had merged as
British Steel and Tube Ltd before vesting took place.
arranged an exchange deal with Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds Ltd
(GKN), the parent company of GKN Steel, under which BSC acquired
Dowlais Ironworks at Merthyr Tydfil and GKN took over BSC's Brymbo Steelworks near Wrexham.
Change in the British steel industry
The Act brought together 90 percent of the UK's steelmaking to form
BSC, a single business with 268,500 employees.
One of the arguments aired in favour of nationalisation was that it
would enable steel production to be rationalised. This involved
concentrating investment on major integrated plants, placed near
the coast for ease of access by sea, and closing older, smaller
plants, especially those that had been located inland for proximity
to coal supplies.
mid-1970s the (now loss-making) British Steel pursued a strategy of
concentrating steelmaking in five areas: South Wales, South Yorkshire, Scunthorpe, Teesside and Scotland.
policy continued following the Conservative victory in the 1979 General Election
Other traditional steelmaking areas faced cutbacks. Under the
Labour government of James
, a review by Lord Beswick had led to the reprieve of
the so-called 'Beswick plants', for social reasons, but subsequent
governments were obliged under EU rules to withdraw subsidies.
Major changes resulted across Europe including, in the UK:
Consett the closure of the British Steel works in 1980
marked the end of steel production in the Derwent
Valley and the decline of the area.
Corby the early 1980s saw the loss of 11,000 jobs leading
to an initial unemployment rate of over 30%.
Scotland, Western Europe's largest hot strip
steel mill Ravenscraig steelworks, near Motherwell, North
Lanarkshire, was closed by British Steel in 1991, leading to
huge unemployment in the area. It also led to the
closure of several local support and satellite businesses, such as
the nearby British Steel Clydesdale
Works in Mossend, Clyde Alloy in Netherton and equipment maker Anderson Strathclyde. Demolition
of the site's landmark blue gasometer in 1994, and the subsequent
cleanup operation, has created the largest brownfield site in Europe.
area between Motherwell and Wishaw is in line
to be transformed into the new town of Ravenscraig, a project partly funded by Corus.
British Steel was privatised
under the Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher
. It merged with the
producer Koninklijke Hoogovens to form Corus Group on 6 October 1999.
itself was taken over in March 2007 by the Indian steel operator
Ian MacGregor later became famous for his role at British Coal and
the UK miners' strike
the strike the "Battle of Orgreave" took place at British Steel's coking
In 1971, British Steel sponsored Sir Chay
in his record-making non-stop circumnavigation
against the winds and
currents, known as 'The Impossible Voyage'. In 1992 they sponsored
the British Steel Challenge
first of a series of 'wrong way' races for amateur crews.
British Steel had agreed a sponsorship deal with Middlesbrough Football Club
, with a
view to British Steel sponsored Middlesbrough shirts making their
appearance the following
. But the sponsorship deal was terminated
before it commenced after it was revealed that British steel only made up a tiny fraction of steel used in
construction of the stadium - the bulk of the steel had been
imported from Germany.
- UK Steel:Key dates
- Select Committee on Transport, Local Government and
the Regions, HMSO
- Corus Group