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10 July 2014
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Legacies - South Yorkshire

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South Yorkshire
Aerial photo of Templeborough Melting Shop
© Courtesy of Rotherham Archives & Local Studies Service
From steel valley to cultural hot spot

Just as the economy of South Yorkshire has moved on from coal and steel, so too has its industrial landscape. Whilst the majority of the steel works and coal mines have been destroyed, Templeborough melting shop remains intact. Transformed into the Magna Centre science park, it stands as testimony to a bygone industrial age.

One crucial decision taken by the architects who were converting Templeborough makes it stand out from other industrial-cultural conversions. Wilkinson Eyre decided to keep the essential structure intact, doing little more than dusting the inside. It is precisely what the architects have not done that makes the site interesting.

A mighty past

Season's Greetings from the PM

In 1979, workers at the Templeborough Melting Shop received a Christmas card from Prime Minister James Callaghan wishing them a Happy Christmas.
Templeborough symbolises South Yorkshire's love affair with the steel industry. The Melting Shop opened in 1917 to produce steel for artillery shells used in the First World War.

The site was then modernised in the 1950s with the introduction of electric furnaces. At its peak, the works employed 10,000 men.

Templeborough is truly enormous. The surrounding cogging mills and cooling beds have been demolished, leaving the melting shop standing in its enormity. Conveying the sheer magnitude of Templeborough is no easy task. The structure consists of a two-aisled shed 350m long and 30m high. For comparison's sake, an official football pitch is 34m long!

An interior view of the Templeborough Melting Shop
© Courtesy of Rotherham Archives & Local Studies Service
The temperature of molten steel in the works' furnaces was a staggering 1630C! John Heaps, a former manager at Templeborough, now employed as a guide at Magna, recalls the immense heat: "To actually ride past on a bus on the main road from Sheffield to Rotherham you could feel the heat through the windows". He remembers buses using headlights as they passed through the orange smog outside the melting shop.

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