Scotlands History

Steel industry

Changes in the British steel industry brought 90 percent of UK steelmaking together into a single business, the British Steel Corporation (BSC). Established under the Iron and Steel Act of 1967, nationalisation tried to rationalise steel production.

Ravenscraig Steelworks in North Lanarkshire became the heart of the nationalised industry’s Scottish operations. As an integrated steelworks, it covered a vast area close to Motherwell and Wishaw. It produced its own iron in blast furnaces fuelled by Scottish coal; iron ore was imported via a purpose-built pier terminal at Hunterston; and lime flux came from its own works at Shap in Westmorland.

Ravenscraig was Western Europe’s largest producer of hot-strip steel, processed at Gartcosh. It also produced slab steel for the Dalziel Works, a plate mill supplying shipbuilding and off-shore oil-platform construction.

British Steel was privatised in 1988 under the Conservative Government led by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

High manufacturing costs, a downturn in shipbuilding, free-market and overseas competition contributed to the closure of Ravenscraig in 1991. It became the largest brownfield site in Europe, and a social and economic disaster for west-central Scotland.

  • Image of Ravenscraig Rolling Mill
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Industrial Britain

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