City of Steel

Company: Corus
Sector: Manufacturing
Impact: Corporate responsibility
Sponsor: University of Teesside, Teesside Archives, Heritage Lottery Fund, Corus and Community Trade Union
Timescale: 2008-2010

Project brief

To give access to the iron and steel industrial heritage of Teesside held in the archives of the British Steel Corporation by transferring the records to public ownership in a collaborative venture with the University of Teesside and Teesside Archives. The main objectives of the project are:

  • Cataloguing – list and identify items using bespoke computer software
  • Conservation – restore, repair, protect and digitise the original documents
  • Community engagement – develop educational workshops, projects, exhibitions and other resources
We are immensely proud of our heritage and are keen to ensure that the hard work and achievements of the men and women in our industry are recognised and remembered. The British Steel Archive – gifted by Corus and housed in Teesside Archives in Middlesbrough - is an enduring tribute to the people who established and nurtured our industry. Our determination to ensure that past achievements are recognised is reflected in the considerable donation made by Corus to help preserve the archive and make it accessible to the public.
Jon Bolton, Managing Director, Corus Teesside Cast Products 2009
The British Steel Archive is a business collection of local, national and international significance. It tells the story of how the iron and steel industry developed on Teesside, how local businesses influenced international trade, were at the forefront of new developments in engineering and technology and left an enduring legacy of bridges and buildings across the world. For a collection of this size and complexity to have survived and to now be accessible by the general public, is testament to the corporate responsibility of British Steel plc and Corus.
Dr Joan K. F. Heggie, Project Manager, British Steel Archive Project 2009

Business archives used by the team

  • Conventional corporate records of over 40 iron & steel and related companies such as Bolckow & Vaughan, Bell Brothers, Cochrane & Co. Ltd., Dorman, Long & Co. Ltd., South Durham Steel & Iron Co. Ltd., and Skinningrove Iron Co. Ltd, covering the period 1840-1970
  • Employee-related material including wages and salaries documentation, pension records and operational records
  • Several thousand maps, plans and engineering drawings
  • Over 25,000 images in a variety of formats e.g. glass plate and sheet film negatives, lantern slides and prints
  • Objects, such as over 100 cine-films, company seals, share certificate templates

Outcomes and business benefit

  • The British Steel Collection is a significant industrial and social history archive and through this collaboration Corus is ensuring its long-term preservation. This example of corporate responsibility is a PR coup for the company.
  • The University of Teesside is creating an internationally acclaimed asset for students and academics across many disciplines e.g. economics, history & engineering.
  • Knowledge transfer benefits as volunteers, many skilled, ex-employees of British Steel, have the opportunity to learn archive and information skills while imparting their work knowledge and experience to the project.
  • Capacity building within Teesside Archives, the local authority and the wider community to ensure business archives can be transferred to public ownership and be managed effectively in the future.
  • There is a cost saving in having the storage and management of the collection transferred from the parent company.
  • The Collection provides an understanding of the important industrial heritage of the Teesside region and the involvement of many local people as volunteers on the project is evidence of the strong trust and support that the project is receiving from the local community.