Film documentary on the history of stainless steel

Many film documentaries have been made about the history of stainless steel and steel pipes (Edelstahlrohre). The history of steel dates way back to the early 1800’s, but stainless steel was not actually founded until 1913, when Harry Brearley from Sheffield England was experimenting with different quantities and types of alloys the he discovered stainless steel. He found that steel gained exceptional resistance to acid corrosion when it had over 12 percent chromium. It was Harry Brearleys research that laid the foundation for the development of stainless steel.

Two types of steels had been founded by the late 1920’s these were austenitic stainless steel and martensitic stainless steel .


What transpired over the decades that followed, was a booming stainless steel industry in throughout the UK. Sheffield was one of the cities that was famous for its production of steel, and to this day are still known as steel city. Many film documentaries that have been made about the steel industry in Sheffield have been shown on terrestrial television. One of the most famous mentions of the stainless steel in film was when the Full Monty came out. Set in Sheffield in the late 1990’s when there was high unemployment due to the closure of the steel sites around Sheffield. The Full Monty outlined the struggle many men had after the steel manufacturers closed. The film helped put Sheffield ‘steel city’ firmly back on the map.

Channel 4 who produced the film are renowned for being passionate about documentary, and give grants to support the production of short film.

There have been an immense amount of documentaries and films produced during the closure of the steel works in the 1980’s, although there is not a lot mentioned in documentaries about the steel industry or especially stainless steel pipes (Edelstahl Rohr) today, it is still thriving within Sheffield although not as many workers are needed to do the work nowadays as in the past.

As the steel industry is a massive part of Sheffield’s history, stainless steel and Sheffield is often a talking point in Sheffield schools, and lessons are often taught on this subject. Documentaries are often watched by the school children within a classroom environment. These documentaries are then used as a talking point and lesson base.

Although Sheffield’s steel industry in parts is still thriving, most of the buildings stand in disrepair in need of demolition. Many of the old buildings have been demolished, and in there place now stands the Sheffield Arena, the Don Valley stadium (which was used for the world student games in 1991) and Ice Sheffield. Sheffield has all the facilities to be a great sporting city. It also hosts a celebrity sporting event called ‘The Games’ which is televised over a number of days, where celebrities have to complete various sporting tasks such as swimming, running, high jump, diving etc.

There have been over the years many film documentaries on the history of Sheffield steel, and also on the history of Sheffield. What I have learned through research on this subject is although Sheffield has moved on in terms of its buildings and architecture people will always refer to it as ‘steel city’ Sheffield.