Remembering Ravenscraig: The history of Motherwell's steelworks in 12 pictures

Ravenscraig was an old steelworks in North Lanarkshire - today we’re looking back at the site’s heritage in 12 pictures

For decades, Lanarkshire was the industrial heart of Scotland - one of the strongest links in the chain across the central belt that linked together Scotland’s economy in the 20th century.

Today we wanted to look back at the days of industry in North Lanarkshire by putting a spotlight on the heritage of the Ravenscraig. Located between Motherwell, Carfin, and Wishaw, it was one of the largest steel works in Western Europe, and in its day, ‘Lanarkshire Steel’ was a sure ear-mark of quality.

Commissioned by the Colville’s of the Clyde Iron Works back in the early 1950’s at a cost of £22.5 million, the Ravenscraig took three years to build. Spanning one square mile, the site consisted of coke ovens, a by-products plant, one blast furnace and an open hearth melting shop with three steel-making furnaces. The semi-continuous strip mill would be introduced in future expansion works completed in 1962.

The coke ovens were lit for the first time on June, 3, 1957, and the blast furnace on August 1 the same year (after some preliminary heating), followed by the melting shop on 3 September later that year. Production quickly began on 400,000 tonnes of steel per year - and this wasn’t your granny’s steel, this was top of the line stuff.

At its peak Ravenscraig employed around 7,000 workers and would find its way into the manufacture of thousands of different items over the decades - heavy steel products such as trains, ships and bridges and things made of sheet steel like office equipment, vehicles and household goods across the world.

The majority of the steel produced at Ravenscraig was dispatched generally into other steel finishing plants such as Gartcosh (cold-finish) Strip Mill or Dalzell Plate Mill. 

Some of Ravenscraig’s biggest customers were the British Motor Corporation, Rootes Group (later Chrysler), Ford, Rover, Volvo, Carron Steelyne (who produced post boxes and navy cannons), J. G. Carrick & Co Ltd, and Stelrad.

Take a look below as we explore the history of the Ravenscraig Steelworks in 12 pictures.

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