'Bending armour-plate by hydraulic presure at Chatham Dockyard', c 1863.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate taken from the 'Illustrated London News' (Vol 63/1 p 36). The idea of using hydraulic presure to produce 'mild steel' was begun with a paper read in 1856 by Henry Besemer (1813-1898) entitled, 'the Manufacture of Malleable Iron and Steel without Fuel'. From this evolved the the Besemer proces, enabling molten pig-iron to be turned into steel by a blowing air through it in a tilting converter. This method was cheaper and quicker than the production of wrought steel, and bulk production meant that it could be used for industries such as shipbuilding and structural engineering.