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Dorman Long

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Dorman Long & Co.
Dorman Long
Founded1875; 149 years ago (1875)
HeadquartersMiddlesbrough, UK
  • Steel and Bridges

Dorman Long & Co was a UK steel producer, later diversifying into bridge building. The company was once listed on the London Stock Exchange.


The company was founded by Arthur Dorman and Albert de Lande Long when they acquired West Marsh Iron Works in 1875.[1] In the 1920s Dorman Long took over the concerns of Bell Brothers and Bolckow and Vaughan and diversified into the construction of bridges.[2] In 1938 Ellis Hunter took over as Managing Director and he continued to lead the business until 1961.[3]

Tyne Bridge

In 1967 Dorman Long was nationalised, along with 13 other British steel-making firms, becoming subsumed into the government-owned British Steel Corporation. In 1982 Redpath Dorman Long, the engineering part of the business, was acquired by Trafalgar House who in 1990 merged it into Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company in Darlington.[4]

Iron and steel[edit]

Iron-making has been known in Cleveland since the Romans found iron slags in North Yorkshire, with small-scale iron-making known to have taken place at Rievaulx and Whitby Abbeys and at Gisborough Priory in the 17th century.[5]

Some of the key events connected with iron-making in Cleveland:

1837: The first Cleveland ironstone mine opens, at Grosmont, for the Losh, Wilson and Bell ironworks.[6]

1841: Bolckow and Vaughan open the first ironworks in Middlesbrough.[7]

1850: 8 June – The Discovery of the Cleveland Main Seam of Ironstone at Eston by Ironmaster John Vaughan and mining engineer John Marley both of Bolckow & Vaughan. The Cleveland iron rush begins.[8]

1865: 30 blast furnaces operate within six miles (10 km) of Middlesbrough and one million tonnes per annum (TPA) of iron are produced to make the area one of the world's major centres of iron production.[9]

1879: Sidney Gilchrist Thomas arrives in Cleveland and introduces the first commercial steel.[10]

1903: Partial amalgamation of Bell companies with Dorman Long.[11]

Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House

1917: The Redcar steel plant is opened, making steel in the open hearth process.[9]

1928-9: Dorman Long takes over residues of Bell and Bolckow Vaughan.[12][13]

1946: Dorman Long purchases 600 acres (2.4 km2) of land between the Redcar and Cleveland Works to build the Lackenby development.[14]

1955: The Dorman Long tower, a combined coal silo, firefighting water tower, and control room, was built on the Teesside steelworks site.[15]

1967: Dorman Long, South Durham Steel Iron Co, and Stewarts and Lloyds come together to create British Steel and Tube Ltd.[16]

1967: The steel industry is nationalised and the British Steel Corporation is born.[17]

1989: Company is privatised becoming British Steel plc.[18]

1990: Merged with The Cleveland Bridge & Engineering Company, Darlington.[9]

1999: British Steel plc merges with the Dutch steel and aluminium company Koninklijke Hoogovens to become Corus Group.[19]

2015: Former Dorman Long Steel plant on Teesside ceased production after SSI mothballed the Redcar works following a global downturn in the price of steel and later announced its UK arm had gone into liquidation.[20]

2021: Cleveland Bridge goes into administration.[21]

2021: The Dorman Long tower is demolished,[22] despite its Grade II listed status.[15][23]

Bridge building[edit]

The most famous bridge ever constructed by a Teesside company was Dorman Long's Sydney Harbour Bridge of 1932,[24] of similar construction to but, contrary to popular belief, not modelled on the 1928 Tyne Bridge, a construction regarded as the symbol of Tyneside's Geordie pride, but also a product of Dorman Long's Teesside workmanship. The greatest example of Dorman Long's work in Teesside itself is the single-span Newport Lifting Bridge (a Grade II Listed Building). Opened by the Duke of York in February 1934 it was England's first vertical lift bridge.[25]

List of bridges constructed[edit]

The following is a list of some of the bridges built by the Dorman Long: it is not fully comprehensive.

Bridge Location Year Total length Notes Image Ref
ft m
Omdurman Bridge White Nile, Sudan 1926 2,012 613 7 fixed spans, one swing span, 3,700 tons
Desouk Bridge Lower Nile, Egypt 1927 2,010 610 10 spans including 194 feet (59 m) swing span, 3,800 tons
Tyne Bridge Newcastle, England 1928 1,254 382 Approximately 8,000 tons, (Road)
Alfred Beit Bridge South Africa 1929 1,515 462 1,876 tons
Sydney Harbour Bridge Sydney, Australia 1932 3,770 1,150 Total weight of fabricated steelwork 51,000, weight of steel in the arch 38,000 tons
Grafton Bridge Grafton, NSW, Australia 1932 1,309 399 It is a dual level road and rail Bascule Bridge, the upper deck carrying a roadway and the lower level carrying the rail line and foot bridge.
Lambeth Bridge London, England 1932 776 237 5 spans, 4,620 tons, (Road)
Memorial Bridge, Bangkok Thailand 1932 755 230 1,100 tons, (Road)
Khedive Ismail Bridge Cairo, Egypt 1933 1,250 380 3,000 tons
Newport bridge Middlesbrough 1934 270 82 The central lifting span 66 feet (20 m) wide, weighing 5,400 long tons (5,500 t); the towers are 182 feet (55 m) high. The total weight is 8,000 tons.
Birchenough Bridge Zimbabwe 1935 1,241 378 1,242 tons.
Storstrøm Bridge Denmark 1937 10,535 3,211 21,000 tons, (Railway and Road)
Chien Tang River Bridge China 1937 3,480 1,060 16 equal spans, 4,135 tons, (Railway and Road)
Adomi Bridge (originally Volta Bridge) Atimpoku, Ghana 1957 1,096 334 arch bridge with roadway suspended from arch
Silver Jubilee Bridge Runcorn and Widnes, England 1961 1,582 482 Road
Dorman Long coal and water tower
Dorman Long coal and water tower

Dorman Museum[edit]

In 1904 Sir Arthur Dorman of Dorman Long gave the Dorman Museum to Middlesbrough in honour of his youngest son, George Lockwood Dorman, an avid collector who died in the Boer War. Amongst the museum's exhibits is a collection of ceramics from the local Linthorpe Pottery, which was known for its iridescent glazes which, at the time, were not produced anywhere else in Europe.[40]

Dorman Long Tower[edit]

The Dorman Long tower was built from 1955 to 1956 as a coking plant for steel production.[15] The tower was an early example of brutalist architecture.[41] It was scheduled to be demolished in 2021 due its poor state of repair[23] and granted Grade II listed status, in an emergency listing by Historic England on 10 September 2021.[15] The emergency listing cited its significance as a "recognised and celebrated example of early Brutalist architecture", a "nationally unique surviving structure from the twentieth-century coal, iron and steel industries" as well as "for its association with, and an advert for, Dorman Long which dominated the steel and heavy engineering industry of Teesside".[15]

In one of her first acts as Culture Secretary, Nadine Dorries revoked the listing – amidst accusations of "cultural vandalism" – enabling demolition of the building to be scheduled.[42] The tower was demolished between 00:00 and 00:20 on 19 September 2021 in a series of controlled explosions.[43]


  1. ^ "North East England History Pages". talktalk.net. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  2. ^ Tolliday, Steven (1987). Business, Banking, and Politics: The Case of British Steel, 1918–1939. Harvard University Press. pp. 47–48. ISBN 9780674087255.
  3. ^ Alfred D Chandler JR; Hikino, Takashi (15 March 1994). SCALE AND SCOPE. Harvard University Press. ISBN 9780674789951. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  4. ^ Cleveland Bridge history Archived 3 March 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ "History of Gisborough Priory". English Heritage. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  6. ^ Tees Valley RIGS Group (2010). "Tees Valley RIGS group: Ironstone". Archived from the original on 21 December 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  7. ^ Simpson, David (2009). "Iron Industry of North East England". Iron Age. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
  8. ^ "Obituary. John Vaughan, 1799-1868". Minutes of the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers. 28 (1869): 622–627. 1869. doi:10.1680/imotp.1869.23113. ISSN 1753-7843.
  9. ^ a b c "Dorman Long: The Teesside firm that bridged the world". BBC. 3 October 2015. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  10. ^ Warren, Jonathan (2017). Industrial Teesside, Lives and Legacies: A Post-industrial Geography. Springer International Publishing. p. 59. ISBN 978-3319645407.
  11. ^ Chandler, Alfred Dupont (1994). Scale and Scope: The Dynamics of Industrial Capitalism. Harvard University Press. p. 328.
  12. ^ Tweedale, Geoffrey. "Mensforth, Sir Holberry". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/48057. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  13. ^ "The Sydney Morning Herald". British Steel Merger: Dorman, Long and South Durham. 9 May 1933. p. 11. Retrieved 1 December 2012.
  14. ^ "Lackenby". The Civil Engineer. 1954. p. 399. In 1946, the whole of the land between the Cleveland and Redcar Works, an area of 680 acres, known as the Lackenby site, was purchased by Dorman Long.
  15. ^ a b c d e Historic England. "Dorman Long Tower (1477999)". National Heritage List for England. Archived from the original on 13 September 2021. Retrieved 13 September 2021.
  16. ^ "Dorman Long and Company Limited Collection". National Archives. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  17. ^ Mény, Y.; Wright, V.; Rhodes, M. (1987). The Politics of Steel: Western Europe and the Steel Industry in the Crisis Years (1974–1984). Walter de Gruyter. p. 315. ISBN 9783110105179. Retrieved 5 October 2014.
  18. ^ "Timeline: the turbulent life of British Steel". Financial Times. 11 November 2019. Archived from the original on 12 December 2022. Retrieved 7 August 2022.
  19. ^ "British Steel merges with Dutch rival". BBC News. British Broadcasting Corporation. 7 June 1999. Retrieved 5 August 2022.
  20. ^ Macalister, Terry (2 October 2015). "Redcar steelworks owner goes into liquidation threatening all 2,200 jobs". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  21. ^ Whitfield, Graeme (22 July 2021). "Cleveland Bridge goes into administration with 300 jobs at risk". TeessideLive. Retrieved 28 August 2021.
  22. ^ "Early morning explosion to demolish Dorman Long Tower takes place". Northern Echo. 19 September 2021. Retrieved 19 September 2021.
  23. ^ a b Blackburne, Elaine (11 September 2021). "Dorman Long tower made listed building in last ditch move". TeessideLive. Retrieved 13 September 2021.
  24. ^ a b Department of Environment and Heritage, Australian Government. "Draft nomination for Sydney Harbour Bridge" (PDF). National Heritage List: Nomination Form. Engineers Australia. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  25. ^ Rennison, R. W. (1996). Civil Engineering Heritage: Northern England. Thomas Telford Publishing. p. 91.
  26. ^ Structurae database
  27. ^ The Dessouk Railway Bridge Over the Nile. A Description of the Bridge and of the Construction Methods Adopted. Published by Dorman Long & Company Ltd
  28. ^ "Dorman Long Historical Information". dormanlongtechnology.com. Retrieved 14 July 2014.
  29. ^ Bridging the Limpopo The Brisbane Courier, 18 June 1928
  30. ^ "Grafton Bridge – two tenders received – Dorman Long & Co. Ltd the lower". The Sydney Morning Herald. 22 June 1926. Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  31. ^ "Lambeth Bridge". Where Thames Smooth Waters Glide. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  32. ^ Bridges: A few examples of the work of a pioneer firm, published by Dorman, Long, 1930
  33. ^ "A bridge misunderstood". Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  34. ^ Richards, James M. (1984). The National Trust Book of Bridges. Butler & Tanner Ltd. p. 177.
  35. ^ "Rhodesian Heritage". Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  36. ^ "Guy Maunsell". Engineering Times. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  37. ^ "Chien Tang River Bridge". BFI database. Archived from the original on 23 April 2013. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  38. ^ Scott, Peter Adamson; Roberts, Gilbert (1958). "The Volta Bridge". Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers. 9 (4). Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers, E-ISSN 1753-7789, Volume 9, Issue 4, April 1958, pp. 395–432: 395–432. doi:10.1680/iicep.1958.2304. Retrieved 2 August 2020.
  39. ^ "Runcorn Bridge". Engineering Times. Retrieved 26 December 2016.
  40. ^ "Linthorpe Art Pottery". The Dorman Museum. Retrieved 7 March 2019.
  41. ^ Ing, Will (15 September 2021). "Brutalist Teesside tower handed lifeline by Historic England listing". The Architects’ Journal. Retrieved 17 September 2021.
  42. ^ "Dorman Long tower to be demolished after recent Grade II listed status rescinded". ITV News. 17 September 2021. Retrieved 17 September 2021.
  43. ^ "Dorman Long tower to be destroyed after listed status revoked". BBC News. 17 September 2021. Retrieved 19 September 2021.

External links[edit]