The history of Bregton traces back to three companies: Castle Ironworks, whose origins go back to the middle of the 19th century in UK; General Components, founded in USA; and Beidun Metalworks, created in PRC. The company history as a steel products maker begins in 1850s, when Castle Ironworks company converted to steel manufacture, inspired by new Bessemer method of steelmaking.
In 1856 Henry Bessemer (1813-1898) read a paper to the mechanical section of the British Association at Cheltenham, outlining a new method of making malleable steel from pig iron, for which no additional fuel or labour was required. The principle of the process was that molten pig iron was run into a large vessel, or converter, through which a stream of cold air was passed. The action of the air caused the decarburisation of the metal, which was then cast into an ingot. The process attracted immediate and widespread interest from ironmasters, many of whom obtained licences to use it.
In 1858 Bessemer established a steelworks in Sheffield to pioneer the process, which began to achieve commercial success in the mid 1860s. The first Midland works to convert successfully to steel manufacture was the Old Park Works at Wednesbury, Staffordshire, in 1864.
The open-hearth furnace was patented by Frederick Siemens in 1856, and was improved in a further patent of 1861 when an associated gas producer obviated the need to use solid fuel. The gas producers were entirely separate from the furnaces and yielded combustible gases from solid fuel – often of inferior grades such as slack coal, coke dust, lignite or peat – in a similar manner to a gas retort. The furnaces worked on a regenerative principle whereby two chambers, known as regenerators, were piled with bricks in order to build up a large surface area.
Exhaust gases were passed from the furnace through one of the chambers, in order to build up heat, and then the draft was reversed, so that gas now passed though the heated chamber and entered the hearth at a high temperature where it combusted. Meanwhile the products of combustion were passed through the other ‘cold’ chamber. By continuously alternating the direction of the draft, the furnace could be maintained at a high temperature and constant flame.
A further technical advance was achieved by Pierre and Emil Martin of Sireuil, France, who were able to make malleable steel by melting cast and wrought iron in a bath of molten pig iron in the open-hearth furnace. The Siemens-Martin method was a cheap way of making malleable steel using a bath of pig iron into which all manner of scrap, notably iron or steel rails, were melted.
In 1866 William and Frederick Siemens established their Sample Steelworks in Birmingham in order, as its name suggests, to experiment with the new process. William Siemens then built a steelworks at Landore, near Swansea, in 1868-9, and in 1868 the LNWR Crewe Works adopted the open-hearth process for manufacturing rails.
The Castle Ironworks prospered in the 1870s, having twenty-seven puddling furnaces, two wire mills and a merchant mill. Further improvement was made by erecting a Bessemer steel plant in 1880s, that was working early in 1884, a second converter soon being added, but a decision was subsequently taken to move the plant closer to a source of pig iron.
In 1886 the steel plant was dismantled and moved to a new site at Rogerstone, near Newport, Monmouthsh Castle Ironworks was sold to Benjamin Talbot, formerly of the Haybridge Iron Company, and his son, also Benjamin, for Castle was subsequently under the technical direction of Benjamin Talbot junior (1864-1947).
Some or all of the gas puddling furnaces were converted to conventional open-hearth furnaces for making steel. Talbot clearly considered this an important step forward for small Midland forges. In a lecture given in 1888 he specifically drew attention to the fact that ingot steel was superseding puddled iron in many branches of the industry, unfortunately without being more specific.
The Siemens-Martin process was ideal for small forges making 200-300 tons per week, and could work small ingots of 7-8 cwt rather than the larger 15-30 cwt ingots used for girders and plates, which needed more powerful rolling mills. Small open-hearth furnaces could easily be added to puddling forges to use existing mills and to allow a phased transition to steel.
After moving to the USA in 1890 Talbot initiated open-hearth steel making at the Southern Iron & Steel Company of Tennessee. By the end of the decade he had moved to Pencoyd Steelworks in Pennsylvania where he developed an improved method of making steel in the open-hearth furnace known as the Talbot process. This was introduced to General Components , when Talbot was employed as a consultant. The Talbot process was to be influential in steel technology in the first half of the twentieth century. General Components was successfully using this method of manufacture, steadily increasing production.
in 1929 the United States was thrown into the Great Depression. Many businesses closed their doors. After its reestablishing in the last decade of the 20th century, General Components faced a new business reality, that required to look for additional business objects. The company started to manufacture wire, cable and networking components, which were supplied to electric power and telecom companies in Europe, North and South America, Middle East and Asia Pacific. However, later the firm diversified its output, making spare parts for oil well equipment.
In 1996, taking into account new challenges in changing world market, General Components decided to move headquarters to Hong Kong. After Hong Kong was handed over to Chinese control in 1997, General Components registered a subsidiary company in Hong Kong Special Autonomic Region of China. The main purpose of creation of this company was to start manufacture in China and to enter Asian markets.
The company is specializing in production of impellers and diffusers for electrical submersible pumps (ESP) and opened three new branches: in the People’s Republic of China, United Kingdom and Russian Federation. In 2006 representative offices were opened in United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Chili.
In 2011 a joint venture Bregton company was created through the merger of General Components and Bregton Metalworks, two companies with a rich and diverse corporate history. Throughout the years, Bregton and its predecessor companies have discovered and developed many innovative products for our partners and clients worldwide.