Prince and Princes of Wales watch the Besemer proces, 1875.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
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 for producing large amounts of good quality steel cheaply. The Prince (1841-1910) and Princes (1844-1925) watch the production proces at the steel works which Besemer established in 1856, originally to produce guns, but later to supply tracks to the growing railway industry.