Henry Bessemer Process of Steel Production  ; Facts  Analysis of Achievements

Research Topics Presentation Tips History Essays British History Bessemer, Henry

Henry Bessemer was an inventor born in Hitchen, Hertfordshire in 1813; on March 14, 1898 Henry died in London with the title of knight.

Henry was trained in metallurgy as a young man working for his father, a specialist. This gave Bessemer many opportunities either new inventions or the perfections of old. Henry created a paint made of a dust mixed with brass, making it seem gold; as this gold” paint appeared on many frames, Henry earned a fortune.

Henry helped improve the production of large pieces of glass; Henry also invented a machine for sugar refining and a typesetting machine. During the Crimean War, trying to fulfill a request by Napoleon for stronger cannons that could withstand stronger shells (which Henry had also invented), Henry invented a new, faster process for making steel directly from pig iron. This process cut the price of making steel significantly. Although the importance of this invention was slow to catch on in England, Andrew Carnegie saw its value and implemented it into the United States, making a fortune.

bessamer plant in Sheffiled

Bessemer Plant in Sheffiled.


Steel making, originally a six-week process that resulted in only small steel products, was revolutionized by Bessemer. Henry was able to create huge amounts of steel directly from pig iron (it did not have to be refined through the long process of creating wrought iron). Henry cut out a huge step in the steel making process and made steel production cheaper. In the United States, vast amounts of rails were laid with steel, earning fortunes for various Americans. Although its importance was not immediately recognized by Englishmen, its influence soon changed industrialization. Today, the production of steel continues to follow the Bessemer Steel Making process.

Print Source:

Sir Henry Bessemer: Father of the Steel Industry, ed. C. Bodsworth (Ashgate Publishers: Aldershot, England 1998).

Biographical Note: The information presented here was taken from the web sites featured. This page was complied by Valerie Toner for HIST 350, British History 1689 to present day.