Iron and Steel Industry Collection

The Trust holds a definitive collection of artefacts which represent the iron and steel industry.

The objects are of local, national and international significance. Many items held in the collection, whilst representative of the industry, are unique as they have not been collected or preserved elsewhere.

The museum holds a large and comprehensive collection of objects numbering 5000 items which relate to the general production of steel and other metals and the manufacture of metal, particularly steel, products.

It includes samples of steel as well as metalworking tools and equipment.

These vary from smaller items such as forging tongs, moulders tools, patterns, sizers, calipers, and swagers used in steel making and steel working to objects used in manufacturing of items, such as lathes, drills and dies.

There are also larger objects including steam hammers, drop hammers, mill rollers, ladles, ganister mills, engines and bellows.

Crucible Steel Collection

The invention of crucible steel was an important breakthrough made in Sheffield in 1742 by Benjamin Huntsman, a clock and watchmaker. It provided a process to make quality steel, which was for the first time reliable for mechanical parts. For over 100 years it was the best quality steel produced anywhere in the world and allowed the development of strong and reliable mechanical parts in all industries.

A recent addition to the Trust collection is a Benjamin Huntsman longcase clock made in Sheffield. A long piece of steel is displayed inside this clock which is reputedly a section from the first successful melt of crucible steel that Huntsman made. The clock can be seen in the main gallery at Kelham Island Museum.

The Trust's collection also reflects the crucible process with collections of crucible steel clay pots and documentary artefacts, pictures and photographs, showing a history of the manufacturing process. The Trust has ephemera relating to Huntsman, such as a watch made by him.

Bessemer Steel Collection

The Bessemer Converter at Kelham Island Museum is the only surviving one of its kind in Britain. It is a unique piece of industrial heritage and is of international significance in the development of the cheap mass produced steel demanded by the industrial revolution. Sir Henry Bessemer invented the conversion process in 1856. In addition to the converter the Trust houses material that relates to Bessemer - ephemera such as his collection of patents and papers discussing his invention, and his autobiography.

Special Steels Collection

Sheffield is famous for special steels and the process of developing them goes back to the late 19th century, when high-speed, self-hardening and alloy steels were developed in the city's research laboratories. Robert Hadfield and Harry Brearley are examples of famous Sheffield names in steel experimentation. Special steels were essential to modern armaments and were in particular demand during the two world wars for munitions and aircraft parts.

The Trust holds personal papers and artefacts relating to Harry Brearley's invention of stainless steel. The collection includes books written by Brearley and samples of steel that he worked on. The Trust also holds Hadfield's collections of scientific and technical papers and personal archives. In addition there is an important and large collection of papers from the Hadfield Company archives, which provides valuable background to the development and usage of alloy steels.