Author Archives: Duncan Ellis


Surprisingly to Me, This Is Now My 40th Year in the Steel Industry, Its Amazing Where Time Goes

By Duncan Ellis | 17th January, 2017

All my family is from Sheffield hence the fact it was never surprising that I was interested in engineering. One of my first jobs was a part time Saturday job at Wetherby Engineering. I started making teas, sweeping floors and cleaning down the machines. Then moved on to parting off components on an old capstan lathe and using the milling machines. After leaving school at 16, I went to College to do a business studies degree. After one year I switched this to a part time course and started work at Hanson Stainless Strip Co in Pudsey. This was 1977.... [read more]

So, We Use It All the Time, but What Is Stainless Steel?

By Duncan Ellis | 8th November, 2016

From inauspicious beginnings, we have come to not only love, but rely on 'rustless steel', or as we now know it, stainless steel. When it was discovered and developed, thanks in no small part to Harry Brearley, some said that it would never be useful; for purposes such as cutlery and similar frequent use items, they were washed frequently, so being rustless served no practical use. However, it was stainless steel's properties when used in surgical implements, which improved both the quality of the implements and the hygiene of the operating theatre that brought the use of stainless steel forward.... [read more]

Taking a Leaf out of Corvette’s Engineering Book

By Duncan Ellis | 27th September, 2016

Without overloading on nostalgia, it seems many things that were once considered unremarkable are today quite unacceptable, most notably, smoking in pubs. Although the law is only 9 years old, smoke-filled pubs seem completely alien. Another rapid trend has been the decreasing popularity of The Petrolhead (or Gearhead for Americans). These days, car fans are perceived one of two ways; young scallywags with enormous subwoofers or middle-aged bores who match their leatherette driving gloves with their anorak. The problem for us at West Yorkshire Steel is that we can’t help but be car fans! Working in steel gives an amazing... [read more]

Knives and Forks – the Untold Story!

By Duncan Ellis | 30th August, 2016

It’s an unusual quirk of the language that we can take one word as a description and all of a sudden it’s taken on an entirely new meaning. Google for instance, was originally a noun but suddenly became a verb – as in “Let me Google that for you”. Another example is the way that we still use the term ‘silverware’ to mean cutlery, when in fact most modern cutlery is made from good old stainless steel. It’s just one of those words that seems to hang on, long after the rest of the world has moved on. Silverware, as... [read more]

Adding a Touch of the Cosmic to Metalwork – Literally!

By Duncan Ellis | 2nd August, 2016

There are a few key times when the world of metallurgy takes a giant leap forward, as opposed to the incremental ‘small steps’ that usually define progress. In recent years, we’ve been able to identify these shifts as they’ve occurred, such as the discovery of stainless steel or the invention of the Bessemer process, but other times the acceleration of knowledge has been obscured and hidden in history. This is exactly the case with an ancient dagger, discovered in 1925 that was wrapped in what was effectively Tutankhamun’s shroud. The archaeologists were able to identify the blade as being iron-based... [read more]