Exploring the BFI archives

October 16th 2019, by Doug Readle

I have recently been looking through the British Film Institute (BFI) online archive and found quite a few historically interesting videos. If you are based in the UK you can search the BFI archives and stream the videos online at the following location: https://player.bfi.org.uk/

It’s also possible to explore the archives by filming location, allowing you to find historic footage of areas near you, by using the map search link: https://player.bfi.org.uk/britain-on-film

I have particularly enjoyed watching one of the archive promotional videos from the Dorman Long steel company formally of Teesside.

Video shared with kind permission from the British Film Institute

Dorman Long was a historically important steelworks, producing the steel for a number of famous structures such as the Tyne Bridge, Sydney Harbour Bridge and Lambeth Bridge. Dorman Long was formed in 1875 and in 1877 published its first catalogue of steel and wrought iron sections. Dorman Long continued to produced steel sections and issue useful handbooks until the 1960s. In 1967 the firm merged with other steel producers to become British Steel. Much of Teesside’s steel industry has now closed down.

The legacy company, Dorman Long Technologies, still allows users to download the historic steelwork manuals from the link here. Very useful when undertaking structural assessment of historic structures and also an interesting piece of history.

The video above is a great summary of the steel making process and shows the heavy industry involved in producing construction materials, as well as the energy and raw materials required. Although some of the processes have probably been refined in the intervening 60 years the core process in steel production remains the same.

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