Archives du ciel.

Die Archive des Himmels gehören zu den wenigen besitzenswerten Publikationen der letzten Dekade zur Geschichte der Stahlindustrie.
Beide Bände sind allerdings inzwischen schwerlich aufzutreiben umso größer daher die Freude nun auch den ersten Band mit den Luftbildern aus dem Ornetal bekommen zu haben.

Louis Schmidt hat in den 60er/70er Jahren genau wie die Bechers Industrie auf großformatigen Negativen abgelichtet. Allerdings von oben.
1983 ist Schmidt bei einem seiner Einsätze ums Leben gekommen.
Sehr schade, die Welt ist ohne solche Fanatiker eindeutig ärmer.
Aus der Zeit bis 1975 sollen 25000 Negative existieren, auch aus dem Ausland…
Longwy würde mir aber schon reichen.


Vallourec legt Ehrhardt-Presse in Reisholz still.


Die, in diesen Dimensionen, weltweit einzigartige Presse arbeitet nicht mehr. Am Freitag wurde in Düsseldorf-Reisholz das letzte Nahtlosrohr produziert. Der 1899 gegründete Standort wird stillgelegt.
Der Absatzmarkt für das von Heinrich Ehrhardt erfundene Verfahren war in den letzten Jahren stetig kleiner geworden.
Rohlinge bis zu 28 t Gewicht konnten auf der Presse zu Nahtlosrohren bis 1500 mm Aussendurchmesser gepresst werden. Einsatzort der Rohre waren vor allem der Kraftwerks- und Chemieanlagenbau. 300 Mitarbeiter scheiden entweder über einen Sozialplan aus oder werden an den anderen Vallourecstandorten weiterbeschäftigt.


The mysterious Ougrée experimental blast furnace..

Experimetal blast furnace
..was put into operation in May 1953 on ground of the Ougrée-Marihaye steel company in Belgium. It was a paneuropean research project sponsored by the ECSC and there was a second shaft furnace at the HOAG steel works in Oberhausen, Germany.
The Ougrée-furnace was quiet unusual not only by it’s size (just a 9 m tall shaft) but by it’s oval shaped hearth too.

Casting house

The furnace ran several campaigns to test different ore and coke burdens, oxygen injection etc. .
It’s inner and outer design was changed several times. From 1958 on the project was called AIRBO (Association International pour les Recherches de base au Bas fourneau d’Ougrée).
The Ougrée experimental blast furnace was closed down in 1971.

The Port Talbot Hot Strip Mill

Port Talbot Hot Strip Mill

Finishing stands

Probably only very few industrial facilities still operate today that were financed by the Marshall Plan (European Recovery Program) between 1948 and 1952.
One of them is the 80” hot strip mill in Port Talbot, Wales.
It was to become the core unit of the expansion plan “K” for the steelworks of the Steel Company Of Wales on the Welsh coast.
From 1947 on, the Abbey Works were built on 220 hectares south of the existing Margam Works.
The largest single investment in the history of the British steel industry.
Port Talbot Hot Strip MillThe fully continuous hot strip mill had 4 roughing stands and 6 finishing stands. It had a total driving power of 33500 kW. The plant was designed and built by United Engineering Comp. from Pittsburgh and financed with $27 million from the Marshall fund.
It went into operation in 1951 and is still largely unchanged today, except for the roughing stands (new construction in 2014).

9/72. U.S. Steel Central Furnaces, Cleveland.

In 1965 there were 237 blast furnaces at 72 locations in the U.S. . This series will briefly introduce all of them.

Library of Congress, Photographer Jet Lowe

In 1965, the United States Steel Corp. was the largest steel producer in the world. In the U.S. it still operated 16 blast furnace sites. One of their lesser known plants was Central Furnaces in Cleveland, OH.
This plant was founded in 1881 by the Cleveland Rolling Mill Co. and supplied iron to the Newburgh steel mill until it was closed in 1933.
After that, the Cuyahoga River plant became a pure ironworks, selling merchant pig iron and hot metal to foundries.
In the 1960ies, after the demolition of furnaces B & C and the rebuilding of blast furnace A in 1954 the mill operated two furnaces.
Blast furnace A now mostly supplied pig iron to the Ford Motor Company’s Cleveland
engine plant.
With no integrated steel production the Central Furnaces became what USS called a “marginal unit” and were shut down in 1978.
Famous German industrial photographers Bernd and Hilla Becher visited the plant in 1979, pictures 3, 92 and 159 in their book “Hochöfen” (Blast Furnaces) show the furnaces.

  • BF A: Ø 26’0” (7,92 m)
  • BF D: Ø 22’6” (6,85 m)



22/38 Phoenix-Rheinrohr AG, Werk Hüttenbetrieb.

1959 gab es in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland noch 156 Hochöfen an 38 Standorten. Alle Standorte und alle Hochöfen sollen in dieser Serie im Kurzportrait vorgestellt werden.

Stadtarchiv Duisburg

Vier Hochöfen waren 1959 im heutigen Landschaftspark Nord vorhanden.
Der 1955 errichtete Hochofen 1, die beiden Öfen 3&4 die noch aus der Originalsubstanz von 1904/06 stammten, sie wurden noch über Senkrechtaufzüge und Hängebahnen begichtet, und der 1952 erbaute Hochofen 5. Der Hochofen 2 befand sich 1959 im Abbruch und ist erst 1963 wieder angeblasen worden.
Die Hochöfen 3&4 wurden Ende der 1960er Jahre stillgelegt und abgerissen und der Ofen 5 1973 unter Erhalt von Schrägaufzug und Windenhaus neu erbaut.

Hochofen 5

Anfang der 1980er Jahre wurde dann vor dem Hintergrund der weltweiten Stahlkrise die Roheisenproduktion im Werk Hüttenbetrieb (inzwischen wieder zu Thyssen gehörig) heruntergefahren und der Hochofen 1 1982 und der Ofen 2 1984 stillgelegt.
Der Hochofen 5 der nun nur noch Manganeisen erzeugte folgte 1985.
Seit 1994 gehören die drei Hochöfen zum Landschaftspark Duisburg-Nord.

Hochöfen Phoenix-Rheinrohr, Werk Hüttenbetrieb 1959.

Hochofen 1: Gestelldurchmesser 5,2 m.
Hochofen 3: Gestelldurchmesser 4,5 m.
Hochofen 4: Gestelldurchmesser 5,2 m.
Hochofen 5: Gestelldurchmesser 5,2 m.

Trente Glorieuses

Looking back on the Trente Glorieuses, the allegedly glorious thirty post-war years until the beginning of the steel crisis in 1975, can of course not only be a review of the now unimaginable wealth of heavy industrial installations during this period.
It is also always a look back at a lost working class culture. And nowhere was this more pronounced than in the U.K..

One photographer who has documented this era in breathtaking pictures is Nick Hedges who was kind enough to allow me to show some of his pictures here.
There are many more on his website: Nick Hedges Photography.



And there was no other band in the late 70s and early 80s that more accurately described and interpreted the decline of this culture than The Jam:

Saturday’s Kids
Saturdays boys live life with insults,
Drink lots of beer and wait for half time results,
Afternoon tea in the light-a-bite, chat up the girls, they
Dig it!
Saturdays girls work in tescos and woolworths,
Wear cheap perfume cause its all they can afford,
Go to discos they drink baby cham talk to jan, in bingo
Saturdays kids play one arm bandits,
They never win but that’s not the point is it,
Dip in silver paper when their pints go flat,
How about that, far out!
Their mums and dads smoke capstan non filters,
Wallpaper lives cause they all die of cancer,
What goes on, what goes wrong.
Save up their money for a holiday,
To selsey bill or bracklesham bay,
Think about the future, when they’ll settle down,
Marry the girl next door, with one on the way.
These are the real creatures that time has forgot,
Not given a thought, its the system,
Hate the system, what’s the system?
Saturdays kids live in council houses,
Wear v-necked shirts and baggy trousers,
Drive cortinas fur trimmed dash boards,
Stains on the seats – in the back of course!

6/72 Bethlehem Steel Co. , Bethlehem Plant.

In 1965 there were 237 blast furnaces at 72 locations in the U.S. . This series will briefly introduce all of them.

Blast Furnaces B,C,D,E

Founded in 1857, Bethlehem Steel Co. was the second largest steel producer in North America after U.S. Steel in the 1960s.
The main plant was located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
In 1965, a coking plant with 453 furnaces, 5 blast furnaces, 27 open-hearth furnaces and an electric steel plant were in operation there.

Long products, like bars and structurals, were produced in various rolling mills. The steel beams were famous.
There was also a large forge.

In December 1968 a BOF shop with two 270 t vessels was put into operation.
Iron and steel production in Bethlehem was shut down in November 1995, six years later Bethlehem Steel was bankrupt.

Bethlehem Steel blast furnaces, Bethlehem, 1965.
Blast furnace A: Hearth diameter 21’6″ (6.55 m)
Blast furnace B: Hearth diameter 28’9″ (8.76 m)
Blast furnace C: Hearth diameter 27’11” (8.50 m)
Blast furnace D: Hearth diameter 28’9″ (8.76 m)
Blast furnace E: Hearth diameter 24’0″ (7.31 m)



How it all began.

In the mid-1980s, my old Ford Granada brought me to Liège, among other places, as the outcome of a short but intense groundhopper career.
Behind the infamous Hell Side of Standard Liege you could see the blast furnaces B and 5 of Cockerill-Sambre and I decided to take a closer look at them again, which unfortunately would take me more than 10 years.