In February 2013, the British Film Institute (BFI) launches a twin box set DVD containing a collection of 21 films featuring UK’s steel industry.
‘Men of Corby’ tapping a blast furnace
Some of these are documentary, others animations some fictional stories taking place in steelworks and others showing the use of steel. They span the period 1901 to 1985.
Featured on the DVD is a rare colour record made in 1945 called ‘Steel’ which was filmed by Oscar-winning Jack Cardiff. Other gems are ‘Men of Consett’ (1959), ‘Woman of Steel’ (1984) about steelmaking in wartime Sheffield, ‘Parkgate Iron & Steel Co’ (1901), ‘Song of the Builder’ (1936); and the animation, ‘River of Steel’ (1951).
The collection is being launched with screenings of many of the films across the country from February – BFI Southbank London; Sheffield Showroom; Glasgow Film Theatre, Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle; and the Chapter Cinema, Cardiff.
The DVD set is the third in a series recording the past industries of Britain following the release of ‘King Coal’ in 2009 and ‘Tales from the Shipyard’ in 2011.
The price of the DVD box set is £24.99 and the release date 18 February 2013. Available from BFI bookshop www.bfi.org.uk/shop
For those who are fortunate enough to be close enough to visit one of the BFI ‘Mediatheques’ which provide free access to the BFI film archive (some 500 plus films) there are already several steel films available. The BFI will eventually add further films on steel from the DVD collection.
Mediatheques are located at BFI South Bank, London; Discovery Museum, Newcastle; the QUAD, Derby and Wrexham Library.
Steel in the BFI Mediatheques
The Building of the New Tyne Bridge (1928 | 40 min)
Extraordinary footage of the construction of Tyneside’s iconic landmark.
From Raw Material to Finished Product (1932 | 26 min)
Descend into the Eston mines as coal and ore are gathered to make iron and steel products.
The Iron Dale (1964 | 25 min)
Life at Stanton and Stavely Ltd. Ironworks.
A Century in Stone (2004 | 114 min)
The forgotten history of the ironstone miners of Eston, south of Middlesbrough.
Men of Corby (1961 | 30 min)
Rabbie Burns transplanted to the East Midlands.
Men of Steel (1932 | 71 min)
A young steelworker rises to the company board in this drama partly filmed at a Middlesbrough steelworks (a corny plot but excellent clips of open hearth steelmaking).
Pattern for Progress (1948 | 47 min)
Early documentary from John Krish touring an Ebbw Vale steelworks, with animation from Halas and Batchelor.
A Question of Leadership (1980 | 52 min)
Ken Loach interviews those involved in the 1980 steelworkers’ strike.
Steel Goes to Sea (1941 | 15 min)
Shipbuilding at the height of WWII.
The full index to the mediatheques is available at and includes some remarkable archive film of past British industry.