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Report - Redcar Blast Furnace - November 2015

Maniac

rebmeM LD82
Regular User
#1
Wasn't sure whether to post a report from here or not. My photos aren't all that, but it was a pretty fun night so here's my take on it. All these are hand held shots, I may go back and take some proper ones at some point, but for me it was more about seeing the place than photographing it nicely this time round.

Myself, Elliot5200 and The_Raw had driven up from London and met Oaklyframer somewhere near Lincoln earlier that day. We'd scarcely had more than a few hours sleep, having done another 3 places in the previous 24 hours. Well you've got to make the best of these weekends, petrol is expensive!

We eventually arrive here at some ridiculous hour of the morning, several hours later than planned due to overstaying at our previous place. We waste no time in heading for our access point, all as keen as each other to do what they whole point of the trip was in the first place - climb the blast furnace.

We had a rough idea where to go, with a little bit of help from someone, but as ever with a place like this it all looks very different at ground level to google maps. Also despite the fact the blast furnace is pretty damn big, you couldn't actually see it from the side of the site we were on somehow.

Anyway after a little bit of "I think it's that way" and "I'm sure that bit is this bit on the map" and "is that a car? yes that's a car" we found ourselves on the site, pretty glad to have made it this far without being detected, but mindful that we still had a way to go.

There's a lot more on this site than the blast furnace itself and it was difficult not to get distracted and climb some of the other structures. We were on limited time however so keeping our eyes peeled for the slightest sign of activity, we cautiously made our way further into the site, past the massive MAN gas holder and into pipe city edging towards our goal.

This was our first proper glimpse of the structure as we rounded a corner.
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Getting closer
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Quick dash across no mans land
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We discuss different possibilities for actually climbing the thing, but in the end decide to just go for broke and head up the stairs. Cheeky buggers however have cut off some of the staircases, but not all of them. The furnace is basically one gigantic climbing frame once you're on it, so moving around once you've gone up a few floors isn't a problem. Saying that we did have to get a bit creative at one or two points to get to where we wanted to, it just made the whole thing more fun.

It's only when you actually get close to these things that you realise how fooking massive they really are and the scale of the industry becomes apparent.

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Up we go
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A maze of walkways
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In the middle of the beast
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Passed by the very heart of the machine on the way up, we would return here later, but for now heading up was the priority.
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As we climbed higher and started to become a bit more relaxed in our surroundings, it allowed time for a little contemplation of where we actually were. It was strange to think that just over 2 months ago this impressive piece of engineering was churning out metal at a rate of many hundreds of tons per day, manned by a team of highly skilled and experienced engineers who more than likely took pride in their jobs and in their place of work. All that was gone in an instant. What was also quite sad is they're not wasting any time in dismantling the place, that is quite evident. This really is the end of steel making here, they'll never build any new ones of these and there's not many left in the UK. I mistakenly thought this was the only one left in the UK, turns out there are others - however this is the biggest. I do wonder what the future holds for the area as steel making has been a cornerstone in this part of the UK for generations.

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GAS!
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Crane
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Looking down
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Massive conveyor that would have fed the raw materials to the furnace.
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Pipetastic.
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I didn't realise until I got home and read about blast furnaces a bit that one of the most important aspects of a successful furnace is actually cooling it effectively. All this massive maze of pipework is in fact the cooling system. For those that are interested, there's a schematic on the wall of the office next door.

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The 'Brain' as the_raw likes to call it. I think it's very apt.
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Workshop
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This is the area where the pig iron would have been drained out of the furnace into whatever recepticle it was to go into. From Redcar, a lot of it was transported by rail to the works up the road where it was manufactured into steel.
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In control.This was where the extraction of the iron was controled from. There's two sets of controls, one for the "Taphole drill" which really does what it says and drills a tap into the furnace and the other for the "Clay gun" which seals up the taphole after the extraction of the iron is complete. I think there were 4 extraction points on the furnace, I'm guessing there were 2 this side and 2 the other as this has controls for numbers 1 and 4 in it.
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And that's pretty much it. Mission accomplished.

Exit is reverse of entry, but somehow always a lot faster. Back to the car to the nearest McDonalds for breakfast, then a few hours kip in the nearest layby before heading home.

It was an awesome weekend, but I get the feeling we're not finished with this place yet as there's a lot more that I want to see here before it all disappears for good.

Thanks for looking!

Maniac.
 

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Speed

Got Epic?
Staff member
Moderator
#6
Ha. So not 'Drive to hole in fence. Park car directly opposite hole in fence. Walk though fence, Walk 30yards over to base of furnace, walk up stairs. Done.'
 

Maniac

rebmeM LD82
Regular User
#8
Ha. So not 'Drive to hole in fence. Park car directly opposite hole in fence. Walk though fence, Walk 30yards over to base of furnace, walk up stairs. Done.'
That would have worked if it wasn't for the active security on that side of the site. We took a creative route around which was easy, but a bit longer. It was more fun anyway, we got to see more of the site this way. :-)
 

tweek

meek
Regular User
#10
...over a beach, sand dunes, fields of brambles, coke fields, endless unnecessary pipes and a gasholder... in a group of 9.

so it wasn't even five miles 'as the crow flies' so to speak. :oops:
 

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