Sheffield Forgemasters - Company Archives - Supergun

Object Title

Sheffield Forgemasters - Company Archives - Supergun

Sheffield Forgemasters - Company Archives - Supergun

Date

1988 |E 1986

Reference

SHEFFIELD FORGEMASTERS B.0766

Level

Collection

Scope and Content

Box One:, Report of the inquiry into the export of defence equipment an dual-use goods to Iraq and related prosecutions / The Right Honourable Sir Richard Scott, The Vice Chancellor (London: HMSO, 1996), 115, 5 volumes and index, Exports to Irag: Project Babylon and long range guns. 2nd report / House of Commons. Trade and Industry Committee (London: HMSO, 1992), 86 (2 copies), Exports to Iraq: minutes of evidence, Tuesday 26 November 1991 / House of Commons, Trade and Industry Committee (London: HMSO, 1991), 86-i, Exports to Iraq: minutes of evidence, Tuesday 3 December 1991 / House of Commons, Trade and Industry Committee (London: HMSO, 1991), 86-ii, Exports to Iraq: minutes of evidence, Wednesday 4 December 1991 / House of Commons, Trade and Industry Committee (London: HMSO, 1991), 86-iii, Two folders containing copies of the minutes of evidence, etc, taken before the Trade and Industry Committee, Draft contract between Ministry of Industries Iraq and Forgemasters Engineering Limited, dated 7 July 1988 (2 copies) [Contract 1], Draft contract between Ministry of Industries Iraq and Forgemasters Engineering Limited, dated 7 July 1988 [Contract 2], Contract between Ministry of Industries Iraq and Forgemasters Engineering Limited, dated 16 November 1989, Folder containing a number of documents relating to parts that failed to meet requirements, signed by the Inspection Manager or the Quality Manager at Sheffield Forgemasters. The documents include a description of the divergence from the original specification, but these copies do not contain the customers response, Spiral bound volume containing copies of the draft contracts and final contract between Ministry of Industries Iraq and Forgemasters Engineering Limited; and notes of meetings between Forgemasters Engineering and Space Research Corporation, Boxes two and three:, Seven numbered lever arch files:, 1 |a Main tube file contract; Chronology, 2 |a Slide tubes; bolts, studes and tie bars; Saddam State; E12789; Other enquiries/quotes; Hire H/T for Walter Somers, 3 |a Statements; Chronology, 4 |a Solicitors corresponence; Documents held by Customs and Excise; Iraq visit; Ex employees, 5 |a Select Committee, DTI, House of Commons, 6 |a Export reports and other documents, 7 |a Technical references, Box four:, Two folders containing newspaper cuttings and transcriptions of radio and television interviews, mainly prepared by PR consultants, Infopress, Nine VHS video tapes and three DVD compilations of:, 1 |a Panorama : Iraq (broadcast on BBC 1 on 3 September 1990), 2 |a Calendar News : Supergun Select Committee hearing (broadcast on Yorkshire TV on 4 December 1991), 3 |a Westminster Live : Sheffield Forgemasters (broadcast on BBC 2 on 4 December 1991), 4 |a Westminster : Iraqi supergun (broadcast on BBC 2 on 5 December 1991), 5 |a Scrutiny : Supergun Select Committee (broadcast on BBC 2 on 6 December 1991), 6 |a North in Westminster : Sheffield Forgemasters (broadcast on BBC North East on 8 December 1991), 7 |a Calendar (South) : Peter Birtles interview (broadcast on Yorkshire TV on 1 February 1991), 7 |a Compilation video containing items from Look North, Westminster Live, Supergun Select Committee, This week, and Timewatch, broadcast from 15 November 1990 to March 1992, 8 |a 'Forging the Future' : Forgesmasters Engineering, Seven audio tapes and one DVD compilation of:, 1 |a In Committee : Supergun affair (broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 8 December 1991), 2 |a Supergun Select Committee hearing (broadcast on Radio Sheffield News on 4 December 1991), 3 |a Evening update (broadcast by BBC Radio Wiltshire on 4 December 1991; and Northants Today (broadcast by BBC Radio Northants on 4 December 1991), 4 |a Peter Birtles interview with Customs and Excise 1, 25 June 1990, 5 |a Peter Birtles interview with Customs and Excise 2, 25 June 1990, 6 |a Peter Birtles interview with Customs and Excise 3, 25 June 1990, 7 |a Peter Birtles interview with Customs and Excise 4, 25 June 1990, Box five:, Photograph album showing b/w and colour photographs of the machining of various parts of the Supergun, Two folders containing two files of correspondence etc with the Space Research Centre Belgium (K716043), and a further file containing a quotation (E13728), Folder containing three files:, E20098, Saddam State Establishment, 3/7/1989, Barrels, breech ring slabs, jackets, nuts, E20458, Ministry of Power, Iraq, 4/8/1989, Rings, cylinders, shafts, flange, E21400, Republic of Iraq, 9/11/1989, Brass bushes, housing seal etc for slide tube, Folder containing two files:, 5997277, 5997278, Iraq, Slide tubes, 5997279, Iraq, Studs and nuts, Folder containing two files: incoming telexes, 1/4/90 to 1/5/90; outgoing telexes, 1/4/90 to 1/5/90, Box six:, Lever arch file containing correspondence relating to the Iraq tubes (5597152/177; 5597182/207), Lever arch file containing correspondence relating to Iraq tubes (83700-83899), Copies of three hand written indexes of sales correspondence; reports, plans, procedures, and other documents held on data disks, Folder containing a file entitled Iraq Tubes, procedures, CDSLS, general amendments' and a note that amendments relating to specific tubes are in individual files, Lever arch file containing notes and documents compiled by Forgemasters Engineering relating to the investigations carried out by HM Customs and Excise, Box 7:, Folder containing documents siezed as evidence during the investigatons carried out by HM Customs and Excise, 1 |a List of documents siezed from Sheffield Forgemasters by HM Customs and Excise, dated 1 May 1990, 2 |a Miscellaneous papers, identified as PA6, 3 |a Miscellaneous papers, identified as PB 14, 4 |a Despatch forecast, December 1989, identified as GPH 3, 5 |a Seminar on Iraq oil, gas and petrochemicals held in London on Friday 7 July 1989, identified as Hollier D, 6 |a Memorandum relating to a visit to Iraq, dated 27 June 1989, and three accompanying drawings, identified as Hillier 1, Folder containing documents siezed as evidence during the investigatons carried out by HM Customs and Excise, but not exhibited, 1 |a Computer printout and sales, identified as Dunn J, 2 |a Computer printout and sales, identified as Dunn K, 3 |a Sheffield Forgemaster press information sheet, identified as Dunn L, 4 |a Correspondence between Sheffield Forgemasters, Ministry of Industry (Iraq), Fenner Power Transmission and TBA Belting Ltd, relating to the manufacture of Vee belts, identified as PA 3, 5 |a Miscellaneous handwritten notes copies of two A2 drawings, identified as PAY 1-7 [Pay 7 appears incompleted], Folder containing drawings submitted as evidence during the investigations carried out be HM Customs and Excise, PB6A, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D103002 tube slide forging and m/cing, PB6B, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D204041, Seal housing, PB6C, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D204051, Liner assembly, PB6D, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D204039, Liner, PB6E, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D304040, Seal housing assembly, PB6F, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D204052, Liner, PB9A, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D103002, Tube slide dated 14 Nov 1989, PB9B, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D203010, Tube slide assy, PB9C, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D203007, Clamp, P89D, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D103006, End clamp, P89E, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D304040, Seal housing assy, P89F, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D103009, Steel shaft trunnion support, P89G, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D204041, Seal housing, P89H, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D204051, Liner assembly, P89I, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D204052, Liner, P89J, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D103002, Tube slide as amended in red, P89K, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D103002, Amended 6 mar 1990 cf Tube slide, P89L, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D103002, As amended dated 23 Feb 1990 [no plan attached], P89M. Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D103002, Tube slide, dated 12 Sep 1989, P89N, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D103002, Tube slide forging and M/cing, P89P, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D304053, Pivot fabrication, No tag, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D103006, End clamp (A3 copy), No tag, Sheffield Forgemasters, drawing no. D103006, End clamp (A2 copy), Folder containing A2 copies of thirteen drawings: E16043/1, E16043/2, E16043/3, E16043/4, E16043/5, E16043/6, E16043/7, E16043/8, E16043/9, E16043/10, E16043/11, E16043/12 and E16043/13, Envelope containing a letter from Mr George E. James to the Managing Director of Sheffield Forgemasters relating to the Select Committee inquiry, Folder containing copies of corresponce between Sheffield Forgemasters and Turner Kenneth Brown, solicitors, Folder containing copies of correspondence relating to the case brought in the High Court of Justice, between Paul Ashwell et al versus Sheffield Forgemasters; and copies of correspondence relating to possible Italian criminal proceedings, Folder containing copies of faxes, telexes, etc between Sheffield Forgemasters, the Ministry of Industry and Materials (Iraq) and various sub-contractors

Administrative / Biographical History

Sheffield Forgemasters is the successor to such famous Sheffield names such as Vickers, English Steel, Firth Brown and British Steel. The origins of the company go back to the 1750s. However it was Edward Vickers, a traditional miller owning a water mill on Millsands, close to the centre of Sheffield, together with other members of his and the Naylor family who really set the foundations for the business in 1805. Vickers exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1851 making a vast steel ingot - the largest ever in its time - weighing in at 24cwts. More than 40 crucible heats were required for the ingot and other works in the Millsands area provided crucibles of molten steel&&&In 1856 Henry Bessemer patented the first bulk steel-making process whereby several tons of steel could be produced in less than one hour. Within a few years bulk steel production would be the city's mainstay. John Brown built the Atlas Works on farmland immediately east of the city, closely followed by Vickers giant River Don Works in 1865. Vickers had the largest crucible melting shop able to pour a single 20-ton piece. Cast steel bells became a significant product with Vickers exporting them around the world. The largest bell ever made at River Don was the 74 inch San Francisco fire bell weighing nearly 2¢ tons.&&&In 1850 Sheffield produced some 35,000 tons of steel - more than half of world production. In the 1860's Tom Vickers designed the giant crucible melt shop, developed the Mayer moulding method, for castings and installed one of the first Siemens open hearth melting furnaces for quality bulk steel. That was followed in 1882 by the first heavy forging press. Much of Vickers' success was due to demand from the USA for railroad equipment. Yet this business was to be soon lost due to the massive new US facilities such as those of Carnegie in Pittsburgh. This lead to diversification into armaments. Vickers also diversified into shipbuilding with a shipyard at Barrow to build 'ironclads', dreadnoughts and the world's first submarine. Sheffield Forgemasters continues as supplier of critical items for Britain's nuclear submarine construction programme.&&&By 1870 the River Don Works was one of the two largest engineering steel enterprises in the world rivaled only by Bochum in Germany - both Vickers and Firth Brown moved into the manufacture of armour plate. Vickers' portfolio also included the innovative Maxim machine gun. Through the 1890's, Vickers, Cammells and Browns all had massive forging presses to form armour plate. Following the amalgamation into Vickers in 1897 of Armstrong Whitworth and the Barrow shipyard, the company became dominant worldwide and various subsidiaries and joint ventures appeared as far apart as Canada and Japan.&&&Harry Brearley is famous for the invention of stainless steel in 1913. Firth Brown was intent on developing improved alloys for gun barrels and one failed high-chrome trial left to the elements for some weeks did not rust. Brearley gave samples to friends to forge into cutlery blades - the rest is history. The First World War meant peak production, but over 1,000 of the River Don workforce joined the army and production was severely curtailed. The great depression of the 1920s forced rationalisation. English Steel was borne from a merger with Cammell Laird and the Vickers Group. Firth Brown was also consolidated. Vickers embarked on a major reinvestment programme in the 1930s.&&&World War II saw output reach new heights. The River Don Works was a key target - though largely missed - during the Sheffield blitz. This was vital to the war effort as the only forge able to produce crankshafts for the Merlin engine, which powered both Spitfire and Lancaster aircraft, remained unscathed. The Grimesthorpe foundry produced Barnes Wallace's bouncing bombs for use in bombing raids on the M÷hne, Sorpe and Eder dams in Germany and also the largest-ever conventional bomb at 10 tons - used to destroy V2 sites. The strategic importance of Sheffield steel was emphasised by illustrious visitors including Winston Churchill to the River Don Works.&&&After the war the business developed a new range of products including turbine rotors and boiler drums for power stations and ships, railway suspensions and couplers, high performance rolling mill rolls and other steel-plant products, as well as components for the world's first nuclear power station at Calder Hall. The River Don Works was re-nationalised in 1967 into British Steel. New business was developed including castings for the offshore oil industry. The prototype casting is now displayed outside the works on the Forgemasters' traffic island. In 1983, Firth Brown amalgamated with the River Don Works to form the private sector company, Sheffield Forgemasters, employing a workforce of 6,500. Within three years and despite an annual turnover of ú100m, the company recorded losses of approximately ú20m per annum. In 1984, shareholders of Forgemasters wrote off their investments, fired the entire board and brought in new management and a survival plan.&&&Atchison's management failed to develop the business and in 2003 their whole enterprise went into liquidation. A major turnaround at River Don enabled local management led by Graham Honeyman to ring fence the business from administration. After two years of negotiation to overcome major hurdles including a difficult market and pension problems, management was able to complete an MBO. The company, now in its third century and probably the oldest steel business in the world, remains at the forefront of technology for castings and forgings for heavy engineering across the world. SFIL now has the biggest order book in its history, its highest ever level of sales predicted for next year and an award-winning apprentice trained workforce, putting valuable specialist knowledge back into the British steel industry.&&&Building on the strength of renewed client faith in the company and a burgeoning order book, the management team continues to steer SFIL on a dynamic course and recently created subsidiary companies Vulcan SFM and Steel Propeller - providing specialist services ranging from design consultancy to engineering production solutions, contract management, outsourcing and acquisition. Two recent projects have underlined a period of major investment by the company - the completion of a new 4,000 tonne press and the development of a new North Machine Shop, primarily for ultra large castings - both aimed at strengthening SFIL's ability to service key markets. The company continues to supply an increasing global demand for high quality engineered products to key industries such as defence, nuclear, oil and gas exploration, power generation, marine and construction. [www.sheffieldforgemasters.com]

Associations