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Why was Consett Steel Works able to become so successful?

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Why was Consett Steel Works able to become so successful? In 1841, the area of Consett had a population of only 192 people. This community had been born and bred in the area which is evident from the Census done at the time for example, Thomas Little's family lived in Delves where he worked as a blacksmith. Most of the populace relied upon the land for employment working as agricultural labourers, like Thomas Reed who was a farmer. The Census also shows that there were not many people moving to the area as there were not the jobs - the steel works was not operating at this point on a large scale. All that would change within the space of ten years. Consett, like the rest of Britain at this time, would undergo a massive change that saw employment move from agriculture to industrial. The steel works itself would increase in size which in turn encouraged migration to the area as people moved to find work. For example, the Mahon family who relocated to Consett from Ireland. Again this was similar to other parts of Britain during the Industrial Revolution, as towns sprung up overnight due to the increase in people which led to more houses which led to transport links etc. ...read more.


It is fair to say that at this point Consett Steel works was not considered to be a success having accumulated massive debts that had almost forced them to close due to bankruptcy - despite having the raw materials needed, despite rapidly growing in size and despite the huge production demand. A third factor in the success story of Consett Steel Works is the involvement of the Stockton and Darlington Railway. As already mentioned, the plant nearly went bankrupt in 1857. The deal struck with the London Banks may never have come about without the insistence of the railway company. They had invested in the area due to the iron works and transported cheap coal and limestone from the Wear Valley to the plant. The Stockton and Darlington Railway further expanded in the area setting up more railway lines which attracted the growing passenger trade - similar to other industrial parts of Britain. As a result, the closure of the Iron Works would have been a financial disaster to the Railway Company. A fourth factor in the success of Consett Steel Works was cheap supplies of coal. The Consett Iron Company purchased massive amounts of high quality coal from mine owners who could not 'shift' their produce due to high transport costs and therefore had to slash their prices in order to encourage trade. ...read more.


For example, Consett had a history of steel making not to mention John Nicholson's discovery of iron ore samples - evidence that both the raw materials and skills were available in the area. The investments and commitment of the Richardson brothers in the project ensured the development and continuation of the plant. The business links with the Stockton and Darlington Railway meant that the London Banks did not close the Iron Company. These reasons alone did not ensure Consett was a success. The two most important reasons as to why Consett Steel Works was able to become so successful was the fact that the plant had cheap supplies of coal and cheap labour. By buying huge quantities of coal in bulk and keeping transportation costs low, they were able to spend a fraction of the cost compared to their competitors - which enabled them to reinvest this saving into expanding the plant. By employing cheap labourers - such as the Irish - again the plant could save money which consequently increased their profit. These two factors made it possible for the plant to expand in size and production giving them the edge over any competition and ensuring that Consett Iron Company became the biggest and most successful steel works of the time. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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