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Steel on Film

With its glowing rivers of liquid metal and dazzling showers of sparks, steelmaking is the most colourfully cinematic of industries.

Steel is at the very heart of Britain's industrial story. At its peak, the industry employed millions, while its products were ubiquitous at home and exported worldwide. Steel - much of it British - provided "the brace and girder and strut and stay of every industrial economy on earth". By the dawn of the age of film, the British industry was already falling from its 19th century peak, but its influence was still felt in almost every aspect of British life.

This collection of films, ranging across the 20th century and exploring steel's processes, products and workers, reminds us how central it has been to Britain and its people.

This collection is supported by Community Union and The Eric Anker-Petersen Charity.

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Steel on Film

Recommended

View Pattern for Progress
Pattern for Progress
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Pattern for Progress 1948

The drama and spectacle of steelmaking at Ebbw Vale.

47 mins United Kingdom Director. Ray Elton, John Krish

View Steel Windows
Steel Windows
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Steel Windows 1970

A window on to a futuristic vision of concrete, glass and steel.

7 mins United Kingdom Director. Stanley Marks

View Project Spear
Project Spear
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Project Spear 1964

At Rotherham a revolution in steelmaking has human consequences.

31 mins United Kingdom Director. Bill Mason

View Consett Steel
Consett Steel
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Consett Steel 1967

Sparks fly in an industrial film that captures the exciting visual drama of steel production in Consett.

26 mins United Kingdom

View The First Four Years
The First Four Years
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The First Four Years 1951

An industrial epic plays out in steelmaking South Wales.

42 mins United Kingdom

View End of a Line
End of a Line
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End of a Line 1975

After a glorious history, Baldwin's iron and steelworks in Swindon, Staffordshire, faces closure.

14 mins United Kingdom Director. Frank Black

Explore the collection

View Design in Steel
Design in Steel
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Design in Steel 1973

Artists, designers and engineers extol the virtues of steel.

24 mins United Kingdom Director. Sarah Erulkar

View Furnaces of Industry
Furnaces of Industry
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Furnaces of Industry 1940

A patriotic look at British steelmaking.

12 mins United Kingdom Director. Cecil Musk

View Iron and Steel Supply of the World
Iron and Steel Supply of the World
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Iron and Steel Supply of the World 1947

Time-travel to a 1940s classroom with this exemplary educational film.

10 mins United Kingdom

View Bridging the Highways
Bridging the Highways
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Bridging the Highways 1966

A brand new M6 stars in this film extolling the virtues of the new steel-built motorway bridges.

23 mins United Kingdom Director. John Byrd

View A Job for Johnny
A Job for Johnny
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A Job for Johnny 1950

Making plans for Johnny, who has a future in British steel - or so says this fascinating recruitment film.

25 mins United Kingdom Director. Humphrey Swingler

View Listen to Steel
Listen to Steel
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Listen to Steel 1963

The heat and noise of a large steel works are brought vividly to life in this promotional film as we are immersed in the "white heat" of Harold Wilson’s scientific revolution.

United Kingdom

View The Tube Age
The Tube Age
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The Tube Age 1946

Modern life is tubular! Newsreader Frank Phillips celebrates the countless uses for steel tubing.

31 mins United Kingdom

View Report on Steel
Report on Steel
Watch for free 10 mins

Report on Steel 1948

Forging, casting, rolling, pressing, welding - men work around the clock to keep the furnaces ablaze: "steel is wanted everywhere!"

10 mins United Kingdom Director. Michael Orrom

View Bilston Blast Furnace
Bilston Blast Furnace
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Bilston Blast Furnace 1977

The Midlands' last blast furnace makes a car production line look like an hospital operating theatre. 'Elisabeth' of Bilston is the pride of the Black Country.

6 mins United Kingdom

View A Modern Trade Route
A Modern Trade Route
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A Modern Trade Route 1955

Steel tankers transport oil across the world's oceans.

16 mins United Kingdom

View Money and Steel
Money and Steel
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Money and Steel 1959

Steel industry economics made simple (and surprisingly interesting).

9 mins United Kingdom Director. Robin Cantelon

View The Face of Change
The Face of Change
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The Face of Change 1976

Britain's steel industry faces recession - and its human costs - at Ebbw Vale and elsewhere.

26 mins United Kingdom Director. David Williams, Robert Malcolm

View Tactic
Tactic
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Tactic 1970

A broken chain sling, a baffling acronym and some natty graphics. Welcome to the world of 1970s industrial safety!

9 mins United Kingdom Director. John Wiles

View Wings of Mystery
Wings of Mystery
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Wings of Mystery 1963

A thrilling chase through Sheffield’s steelworks with young Don and Jane, looking for clues after the theft of a secret alloy.

55 mins United Kingdom Director. Gilbert Gunn

View Corby Steel Works Closure
Corby Steel Works Closure
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Corby Steel Works Closure 1979

Save Steel to Save Corby' the banners call. This has become more than a battle to save a steelworks, it's the fight for a whole town's existence.

2 mins United Kingdom

View The Birth of a Big Gun
The Birth of a Big Gun
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The Birth of a Big Gun 1908

The manufacture of a new weapon in the pre-WWI naval arms race.

7 mins United Kingdom Director. A.E. Coleby

View Making a Motor Car Bumper
Making a Motor Car Bumper
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Making a Motor Car Bumper 1951

A peek behind the scenes at the Hillman motor car factory near Coventry.

11 mins United Kingdom

View Chain Making
Chain Making
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Chain Making 1983

In over one hundred and fifty years little has changed in the chain forges of Cradley Heath where big, tough men hammer out the biggest and toughest chains.

9 mins United Kingdom

View Construction at Ebbw Vale - 1937
Construction at Ebbw Vale - 1937
Watch for free 3 mins

Construction at Ebbw Vale - 1937 1937

Richard Thomas & Co. Ltd (later Richard Thomas and Baldwins) brings government-backed hope to depressed Ebbw Vale with new steelworks.

3 mins Wales

View The Flat Rolled Products of Richard Thomas & Baldwins Limited
The Flat Rolled Products of Richard Thomas & Baldwins Limited
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The Flat Rolled Products of Richard Thomas & Baldwins Limited 1960

A cinematic catalogue of the flat rolled steel products of Richard Thomas and Baldwins, showing some of their typical applications - car parts, cooker hobs, tins, wheelbarrows.

21 mins England

View A Great Day
A Great Day
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A Great Day 1962

The most modern, integrated steel works in Europe are at Llanwern, Newport, and they are opened on this “great day” (26/10/1962) by the Queen who is visiting with Prince Philip.

16 mins England

View Ingot Pictorial No. 17
Ingot Pictorial No. 17
Watch for free 19 mins

Ingot Pictorial No. 17 1953

The steel industry: the men engage with gigantic machines on a huge scale; the apprentice boys help and holiday; the women have their hair done with the stars.

19 mins United Kingdom

View Steel and Atomic Energy
Steel and Atomic Energy
Watch for free 16 mins

Steel and Atomic Energy 1954

Britain steels itself for the atomic age - literally, in this promotional film showing steel as the underpinning of Britain's nuclear future

16 mins United Kingdom

View Ingot Pictorial No. 25
Ingot Pictorial No. 25
Watch for free 20 mins

Ingot Pictorial No. 25 1956

Only connect: a little Welsh Lady doll, a steel rocking horse, burning Schnapps and the “Limestone Special”.

20 mins United Kingdom

View Ingot Pictorial No. 4
Ingot Pictorial No. 4
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Ingot Pictorial No. 4 1949

RTB has lots to celebrate and Howard Marshall, director of personnel/public relations and the main Ingot Pictorial commentator, downs a pint in one on opening Ebbw Vale House.

17 mins United Kingdom

View Ingot Pictorial No. 6
Ingot Pictorial No. 6
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Ingot Pictorial No. 6 1950

This Ingot Pictorial – a quarterly review of life inside and outside RTB steelworks – brings back memories of summer events (carnival, tennis, singing cousins) in December.

21 mins United Kingdom

View A Sad Day for Bilston
A Sad Day for Bilston
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A Sad Day for Bilston 1979

A steelworks and a workforce under the shadow of closure. Bilston faces a cold winter as it loses its traditional heavy industry.

23 mins United Kingdom

View Ingot Pictorial No. 18
Ingot Pictorial No. 18
Watch for free 20 mins

Ingot Pictorial No. 18 1954

Tom Williams bridges industrial and rural life: he is a fitter at Bryngwyn Sheetworks but, at leisure, carves shepherd’s crooks and competes in sheepdog trials with 'Cap'.

20 mins United Kingdom

View Steel Strides Ahead
Steel Strides Ahead
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Steel Strides Ahead 1961

The glare of molten metal, flames, and furnaces – all the visual drama of steel-making is captured in a promotional for Dorman Long on Teesside.

47 mins United Kingdom

View Steel - The World's Most Important Metal
Steel - The World's Most Important Metal
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Steel - The World's Most Important Metal 1920

Mighty machines at the works of the Ebbw Vale Steel, Iron and Coal Company Ltd, like the Bessemer Converters, which holds 1,000 tonnes of molten iron.

40 mins Wales

View Steel Sheet Making
Steel Sheet Making
Watch for free 14 mins

Steel Sheet Making 1961

Enduring immense heat and deafening noise, a team of 4 follow the traditional choreography for the production of steel sheets, the danger demanding perfect timing.

14 mins Wales

View A Visit to a Cable Factory
A Visit to a Cable Factory
Watch for free 15 mins

A Visit to a Cable Factory 1915

Enter the world of heavy industry a century ago - Glovers Cables in Trafford Park.

15 mins United Kingdom

View The World Turns
The World Turns
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The World Turns 1961

A rare insight into manufacturing in the 1960s, behind the scenes at Colchester Lathes' factory, whose engineers have earned a first class reputation both locally and overseas.

25 mins United Kingdom

View Iron Ore in Britain
Iron Ore in Britain
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Iron Ore in Britain 1956

A richly detailed depiction of the history and technology of the iron ore industry - plus some dramatic explosions.

30 mins United Kingdom

View The Great Jib
The Great Jib
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The Great Jib 1952

A "revolutionary example of British enterprise and engineering", in Corby, Northamptonshire.

34 mins United Kingdom

View Prince George's Visit to Scunthorpe
Prince George's Visit to Scunthorpe
Watch for free 9 mins

Prince George's Visit to Scunthorpe 1933

Royalty comes to Scunthorpe - and the Jubilee Cinema produces its very own film to mark the great occasion.

9 mins United Kingdom

View Furnival and Son
Furnival and Son
Watch for free 19 mins

Furnival and Son 1948

Super location footage enlivens this drama-documentary on Sheffield's steel industry.

19 mins United Kingdom Director. Denis Segaller

View Fair Oriana
Fair Oriana
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Fair Oriana 1961

The spectacular story of the building of a massive ocean liner.

28 mins United Kingdom Director. Bill Mason

View Ingot Pictorial No. 15
Ingot Pictorial No. 15
Watch for free 19 mins

Ingot Pictorial No. 15 1953

Work, rest and play for the men of steel in this screen review from Welsh steel and tinplate manufacturers Richard Thomas & Baldwin.

19 mins United Kingdom

View Ingot Pictorial No. 5
Ingot Pictorial No. 5
Watch for free 19 mins

Ingot Pictorial No. 5 1950

Family fun, inter-site rivalries, productivity battles - it's all go in this lively steel company newsreel.

19 mins United Kingdom

View Steel
Steel
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Steel 1964

The big question of 1964: whether or not to nationalise the steel industry?

15 mins United Kingdom Director. James Butler

View Steel Men Talking No.1 and No.2
Steel Men Talking No.1 and No.2
Watch for free 10 mins

Steel Men Talking No.1 and No.2 1949

Bill Jones, "a worker, like Tom, Dick & Harry", puts the Conservative case against the nationalisation of the steel industry.

10 mins United Kingdom

View The Five Marketeers
The Five Marketeers
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The Five Marketeers 1984

See Sheffield steel tools in the factory, in the store and in Sheffield City Museum.

20 mins United Kingdom Director. Donald Blakey

View Steel Castings
Steel Castings
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Steel Castings 1935

Women foundry workers, and some men, are busy producing steel castings.

14 mins United Kingdom

View United Steel
United Steel
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United Steel 1959

Word from the top: via the magic of film, a company chairman addresses shareholders across the country

10 mins United Kingdom

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