Sir Henry Besemer, British inventor and engineer, 1870.
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Oil painting by Rudolf Lehmann. Sir Henry Besemer (1813-1898) learned metallurgy working in his father's foundry. In 1856, in response to demand for stronger cannon able to fire a new type of artillery shell in the Crimean War, he invented the Besemer proces, enabling molten pig-iron to be turned into steel by a blowing air through it in a tilting converter. This was the first proces that could produce large amounts of good quality steel cheaply. In 1859 Besemer established a steelworks in Sheffield, initially specialising in the manufacture of guns, and later in rails for the rapidly expanding railway network. He was also responsible for numerous other inventions.