This film is part of Free

Bilston Blast Furnace

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.

Non-Fiction 1977 6 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Media Archive for Central England


In the days of the Industrial Revolution, the Black Country was the largest iron producing area in the world. By 1977 only Elisabeth remained. The Bilston based blast furnace could produce 7,000 tons of molten iron per week. To do this she worked a 24 hour day, 365 days a year. The men who operated her were once offered a free pint of milk at the end of their shifts. They refused it and demanded beer! They now receive tokens for a free a pint at the end of their working day (or night).

Elisabeth was named after the daughter of the chairman of the Stewarts and Lloyds, the owners. Apparently it was unlucky for men to light the furnace! Elisabeth could not survive the cut-backs made by the nationalised British Steel and was closed in 1980.