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A Naval Gun in the Making


madannie77
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I had this film, which is thought to have been made in 1915, brought to my attention on another discussion group. The consensus is that it is Vickers' River Don Works.

Whether it is or not, it is fascinating.

 

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Yes its Vickers River Don Works (became English Steel Corporation in 1928  formed from various Vickers Group companies ) . The Open Hearth steel plant if I remember correctly comprised 3 acid open hearth furnaces each 90 tons capacity located behind the Brightside Lane offices . These furnaces were replaced around 1963 by  3  new  90t electric arc furnaces a distance  on  the other side of Brightside Lane near the River Don .

The heavy forge where the gun barrel blanks were forged from the castings  was adjacent to the open hearth furnace shop (still existing today as part of Sheffield Forgemasters).  Final machining was done in the very large South Machine shop located on Brightside Lane across the road from the offices (also still there). 

There was also a vertical heat treatment facility where the gun barrels were heat treated. This was located on a nearby site off Hawke Street .

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Yes, the Gun Shop was the tall building off Hawke Street, the guns were suspended vertically to keep them straight during the heat treatment.  I once had to do some work on the crane in the roof and it was a long trek up there. The wire wrapping was to pre-stress the gun barrel but I believe this was superseded by a heat shrinking process.

I was surprised to see the Gun Shop is still there, maybe someone can say what it is used for today (Superguns for Iraq?)

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I was led to believe  by my uncle ,who during WW2 worked in the South Machine Shop ,that the Gun Shop was as deep as it was tall.

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Quite right.  The furnaces and quenching tanks were largely below ground.  Each gun was lifted out of the furnace and lowered into the quenching tank, which contained whale oil.  The cranes were fitted with a dynamic braking system to allow them to free-fall the gun as quickly as possible.

My grandfather worked as a turner in the SMS 30s and 40s.  When they had big job on, each lathe would be running 24hrs manned by two men working in shifts. This was known as 'mating' so you had to wait for your mate to turn up before you could go home.

You can see in the film that the foremen are wearing bowler hats, -their badge of office.

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On 23/01/2022 at 10:12, Lysanderix said:

I was led to believe  by my uncle ,who during WW2 worked in the South Machine Shop ,that the Gun Shop was as deep as it was tall.

The Gun Shop Heat Treatment furnace was quite deep & had a lift to take you to the bottom !

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Blimey, I wish they had a lift to the crane, we had to carry our tool bags up.  The gun shop was deserted when we went in, I assume they had stopped making naval guns by then (late 60s).

I am still surprised by how many big steelworks buildings are still standing in Sheffield.  Many of them were obsolete decades ago. Any theories?

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Thank you for posting, what a wonderful film. I remember going round the steel works on a school trip, hot dirty noisy and awesome.

 

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