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Hawarden Bridge iron works opens

Activity on a six acre site at Hawarden Bridge is intense, with the Flintshire Chronicle reporting on 16th May that “ hugh chimneys are already springing up from the ground where hitherto there was nothing but wild marsh. Our representative, who was shown over the place by Mr.G.Pickersgill, the intelligent foreman of the contractors, Messrs. E.Taylor & Co., of Littleborough, was astonished at the progress made with the works.“The level of the area earmarked for the new works has been raised by seven feet, with nearly a mile of an old embankment across the marsh being carted, tipped and spread over 40,000 square feet. In one shed were nine furnaces; in another, the engine to power a large crane and to supply electric lighting power for the works.

“Mr.Evan R.Harris, of Bristol, who has been appointed rolling mill manager, informs us that some portions of the works will be in operation in two months or so, and he anticipates that by September this great undertaking, which has so suddenly sprung up and which will give employment to hundreds of hands, will be in full working order”.

The first galvanised sheets are produced in September by which time eight steam-driven rolling mills, galvanising pots, annealing furnaces and corrugating equipment have been installed. The work force is 250 strong and the weekly output is 600 tons.

Steel bars for rolling into sheets are being imported from the Carnegie Company in Pittsburg, America on ships sailing between Baltimore and Liverpool.

At Hawarden Bridge the imported bars are cut into lengths for rolling through a steam-driven hand rolling mill resembling a large mangle. As the red hot sheet emerges from between the two rolls, it is manhandled with tongs back over the mill for further rolling.

This procedure continues until the sheet is considered thin enough for galvanising. The work requires a considerable degree of manual strength and dexterity by men within the mill crew of 10.

After leaving the mill, the sheet is either put through an annealing furnace, to restore properties lost during the rolling process, and sold as “black” uncoated sheet, or is immersed in a tank of acid to remove scale or foreign matter. It is then either galvanised ie coated with zinc to protect it against corrosion, or sold as pickled sheet.

The quality of galvanised sheets produced at the new works is often a cause for concern and many defective sheets are being sold off cheaply. Extensive testing has shown traces of arsenic in the ore being burnt in the chemical plant, leading to black spots developing on the galvanised sheets a few days after they have been coated.