Day 158/365 of Steel – Dorman Long

Dorman Long, the Teesside firm that bridged the world.

Auckland Harbour Bridge
Fig 1: Auckland Harbour Bridge
Photo: Stephen Witherden

Albert De Lande Long (13 September 1844 – 23 February 1917) was an English iron founder and manufacturer. Metal production started on Teesside in the 1840s following the discovery of iron ore in the Cleveland Hills. By 1865 more than 30 blast furnaces were operating within a six-mile radius of Middlesbrough with about 1m tons of iron being produced a year.

Silver Jubilee Bridge in Runcorn at night
Fig 2: Silver Jubilee Bridge in Runcorn at night
Photo: Geoff Wynne

In 1876, 28-year-old metal worker Arthur Dorman launched a partnership with Albert De Lande Long making iron bars and angles for ships.  In the 1880s Dorman Long started making steel and over the following years bought several other firms and work sites around Teesside. By 1901 the firm employed about 3,000 people and produced 180,000 tons of finished material a year.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Fig 3: Sydney Harbour Bridge
Photo: Ian

When World War One started in 1914 Dorman Long had 20,000 workers and, after becoming a major manufacturer of shells for the war effort, started building a £4.5m plant at Redcar. The Redcar works opened in 1917 and Dorman Long won numerous large-scale projects around the world. In the late 1940s Dorman Long turned its hand to building railway engines and by 1956 the company owned numerous steel, engineering, chemical and construction works around the UK.

Tyne Bridge in Newcastle
Fig 4: Tyne Bridge in Newcastle
Photo: Zaphodzuk / Wikimedia

In 1967 Dorman Long was nationalized, along with 13 other British steel-making firms, into the government-owned British Steel Corporation. In 1982 Redpath Dorman Long, the engineering part of the business, was acquired by Trafalgar House who in 1990 merged it into Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company in Darlington. Now Dorman Long Technology provides tools technology to firms building large construction projects.

Tees Newport Bridge
Fig 5: Tees Newport Bridge
Photo: JohnYeadon

The most famous bridges ever constructed by a Teesside company was Dorman Long’s Sydney Harbour Bridge of 1932, and the 1928 Tyne Bridge in Newcastle. The greatest example of Dorman Long’s work in Teesside itself is the Newport Lifting Bridge.

The Adomi Bridge, Ghana
Fig 6: The Adomi Bridge, Ghana
Photo: Danigarcia3k

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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