Herserange wire mill demolition.

Longwy was shaped by the steel industry more radically than any other city in Europe.
Now its last production site of this era is disappearing.
Train Fil Saulnes
Until the early 1960s, Hauts Fourneaux et Forges de Saulnes et Gorcy was a pure pig iron producer with two production sites in Saulnes and in Hussigny-Godbrange, 5 km away.
The company operated 4 blast furnaces and 3 electric arc furnaces for the production of ferrous alloys.
Due to growing overcapacities on the European pig iron market, the management decided at that time to build a fully continuous wire rod mill in neighbouring Herserange to process part of its iron production there.
In the lack of their own facilities, steel production was to take place in the Thomas steelworks of Lorraine-Escaut in Senelle, 4 km south.
For this purpose, a blast furnace was converted in Saulnes to produce Thomas pig iron and a liquid transport system was set up. The blast furnaces in Hussigny were shut down in 1964.Hauts Fourneaux Saulnes
The steel produced in Senelle from the Saulnes iron was rolled into billets  and then finished in Herserange. In return, Lorraine-Escaut was allowed to use half the capacity (30.000 t/m) of the new rolling mill itself.
In June 1964, the first billet was rolled into wire rod in the new plant.
The rolling mill had 7 roughing, 10 intermediate and 16 finishing stands.
In 1966, Usinor took over Soc. des Forges de Saulnes et Gorcy and merged it with its ironworks in Uckange to form Hauts Fourneaux Réunis de Saulnes et Uckange.
Since Lorraine-Escaut was also taken over by Usinor in the same year, the new wire mill Train fil Saulnescould now be attached to the plant in Senelle.
The Saulnes blast furnaces were shut down for good in 1968 and iron production was shifted to Uckange. Only one electric furnace was still in operation until 1991.
The wire mill was taken over in 1984 by Unimetal, now the long products division of Usinor-Sacilor, and shut down in December 1998.



Réhon’s Converter Zoo

Cockerill’s construction of a new melt shop in Réhon, France in 1978 was the last major investment into the dying steel basin of Longwy.
The two O.B.M. converters (Oxygen Bodenblasen Maxhütte) were installed in the relocated halls of the former Thomas steelworks in Ougree, Belgium, closed down in 1975.
Between June and October 1979 Cockerill now operated a real converter zoo in Réhon.
Consisting of:
Two new 80 t O.B.M converters.
Two old 26 t former Thomas converters which were converted to O.B.M. in 1973.
Three 23 t Thomas converters from 1953
and a 36 t O.L.P. (Oxygen Lance Poudre) converter from 1963.
There was also an electric steel plant.
Since the LD process, which was successfully used worldwide, could not be applied due to the high-phosphor domestic ores, numerous new steel production processes were introduced in Lorraine.
None of them was very sustainable.
The Thomas converters were shut down in October 1979, the old O.B.M. converters and the O.L.P. steelworks one year later.
On 30.7.1987, after only 8 years of operation, the new O.B.M. steel plant, now owned by USINOR, was shut down too. In 1980 a third converter had been added.

Book About Longwy’s Legendary Steel Industry

Already about a year old but still highly recommended:
“L’industrie du fer dans le bassin de Longwy des origines à nos jours”
588 pages crammed with information (in French) and hundreds of photos about  Longwy’s legendary steel mills (Longwy, Senelle, La Chiers and Rehon).
60,00 EUR. ISBN/GTIN978-2-916782-62-1, Edition Fensch Vallee.


L’Usine De Thionville

Though much of Lorraine’s steel industry has vanished the old Carlshütte in Thionville is still around. At least parts of it. Like the electric arc furnace in the old open hearth shop now owned by Akers from Sweden.
Further viewing at stahlseite.

The mill in Thionville (German: Diedenhofen) on the banks of the river Moselle was founded by Carl Röchling from Völklingen, Germany and named “Carlshütte” in 1898. Lorraine was part of Germany from 1871 to 1918. Two blast furnaces were built and two more plus a Bessemer steel mill were added in 1906.
After the first world war the mill became French and was now called “Société Lorraine Minière et Métallurgique”.
A coking plant came into operation in 1928.
The “Aciéries de Longwy” took over the plant in 1933.
A forge, an open hearth melt shop and a foundry were added.
1953 saw a new owner: “Société Lorraine – Escaut“.
In 1964 blast furnace number 1 was replaced by a new furnace the largest in Lorraine capable of producing 2000 tons of pig iron a day. Furnaces No. 2,3 and 4 were closed down in between 1966 and 1970 and were all dismantled by 1972.
USINOR a large steel company from northern France took over the Thionville mill in 1966.
A new UHP 70 ton electric arc furnace replaced the old open hearth furnaces in 1973.

Plans to built a OBM oxygen steel making shop on ground were halted in the 1970ies and in 1977 the blast furnace, the Bessemer shop and all rolling mills were closed down for good.
In 1980 a new continuous caster was installed to supply feedstock for USINOR’s
wire rolling mill in Longwy.
In 1983 the steel foundry was closed down.
In 1985 the mill was split up into USINOR Acierie de Thionville and USINOR Forge de Thionville.
USINOR and SACILOR, the two largest steel groups in France were fusioned in 1986, now government owned.
The steel mill became part of Unimetal (the long product subsidiary of USINOR) while the forge became part of the USINOR/Cockerill owned rolling mill manufacturer Forcast.
The continuous caster was closed in 1994 and the steel mill was now taken over by Forcast.
Forcast was sold to the Swedish roller manufacturer Akers in 2001.
Akers still runs the 70 ton electric arc furnace, ingot casting and the 4000 ton forging press to produce ingots and forged rolls mostly for the steel industry.

Usines La Fensch

Usines La fensch
A new book showing rare aerial views of the five steel and iron mills that once shaped the Fensch valley in Lorraine, France.
The quality of the large format images done by Louis Schmidt mostly in the 1960ies is predominantly extraordinary.
There ain’t much text so you don’t need to learn French to enjoy this book.
The book is published by Serge Domini, 120 pages, ISBN: 978-2-35475-064-0.
These books are usually out of print very fast and become quite expensive after a while.