From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present

Firth Vickers Staybrite Works

South Yorkshire
53°24'35.8"N 1°24'47.9"W
SK 3909590518

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Firth Vickers was a Steel Works and rolling mill located in Sheffield, South Yorkshire.

Originally it was owned by Thomas Firth and Sons, from 1900 to 1930. With the experimentation of alloys and the invention of stainless steel marketed as the 'Staybrite' brand, the steel works became known as the Staybrite Works and they went on to produce high quality stainless steel. The stainless steel was used in the new entrance canopy for the Savoy Hotel in 1929 in London.

Thomas Firth set up a research laboratory with a rival company, John Brown and Company in 1908 to develop new steels and processes. It was in 1912, that Harry Brearley working in the Brown - Firth research laboratory was experimenting with alloys to find a corrosion-resistant alloy for gun barrels. He discovered and then went on to produce the hard high chrome stainless steel alloy.

The two companies merged in 1930 to become Firth Brown Steels after a long working partnership which started in 1902 when they exchanged shares. In 1936, they bought a large amount of shares in Westland Aircraft Ltd, the following year they purchased Markham & Co., of Chesterfield a company well known for its machinery, especially its winding engines and ancillary machinery for the mining industry and tunneling machines.

By the 1950's Firth Brown was renamed Firth Vickers, although at this time the connection is unknown but may have been due to Firth Browns involvement in the ship building industry or Westland Aircraft Ltd.

In 1967 the steel industry was nationalised, with the stainless steel operation of the business subsequently being branded as British Steel Stainless. In 1992 British Steel Stainless merged with the Swedish firm Avesta to form Avesta Sheffield, and in 2001 merged with Outokumpu, making it the third largest stainless steel producing company in the world at the time. The new company was owned by Corus Group, institutional Swedish investors and the Finnish company Outokumpu. The new company was named AvestaPolarit, with headquarters in Stockholm. In 2004 Outokumpu bought the shares owned by Corus, so AvestaPolarit became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Outokumpu Group.

Staybrite works are now derelict with an uncertain future.