Since my last visit, two major buildings had come down – the Heavy Section Mill (which was disused when I visited in 2008) and the Plate Mill (which was in use until 2015 and demolished not long after). The site of the Plate Mill is now empty or used as hard standing for container storage. Meanwhile, the enormous Bloom and Billet Mill is disused as is the adjacent soaker plant, and the Dawes Lane Coking Plant is no longer used. It feels like more of the place is out of use than in use.
British Steel published a document in 2018 outlining its vision for redeveloping large areas of this vast site. Put simply, it’s way too big and the company probably also needed to raise money to stop it from going under which it almost did in 2019. It’s probably safe to assume that the new owners will want to pursue this rationalisation, but given the size and immovability of the assets it looks like parcels of land will be carved up and sold off rather than operations being refocused into one area of the works.
How viable is the works longer term? Who knows. With foreign ownership, Brexit and a possible post-COVID recession on the cards, there’s so many variables and unknowns to consider. So, go and have a look round while you can – see the Appleby and Frodingham Railway Preservation Society website for more details.
As for the photographs, well, they kind of work as a set, but I feel they’re just scenes from the place. In a way that’s to be expected – I wasn’t able to wander round by foot like I would most places I visit, so the place just emerged before my eyes and ‘click’, that was it. Other than one or two exceptions, I’ve not been able to interpret the images any differently in post processing, other than convert to monochrome and present in quite a stark high contrast way. The panoramic crops have worked quite well though. Last time I went, the results were different, and I got some photographs that I thought had more drama, but none really presented themselves this time. I’ve printed a couple out though, maybe they will grow on me over time as I look at them again.