On this day in Yorkshire 13th August 1913- Harry Brearley makes the first stainless steel.

Harry Brearly created manufacturing history on this day in 1913, when he made the world’s first stainless steel. He was the head researcher at Sheffield firm, Firth Brown and had been assigned to find a metal alloy for a small arms manufacturers, who wished to prolong the life of their gun barrels. On 13th August 1913, after much experimentation he came up with the formula of mixing 12.8% chromium with 0.24% carbon, to create a steel which did not rust. Brearly’s discovery revolutionised the steel industry in Sheffield. Although he had solved the problem for the arms company, Brearly’s vision was to make cutlery out of his new discovery, which would not be stained with food or drink.

His new discovery would cause friction between him and his employers either side of the First World War. Firth Brown claimed the patent belonged to them, as Harry Brearly had made his discovery under their employment. There was also strong interest from America in his new invention and so, reluctantly, Brearly formed a company with his employers to try and market it, event though they still insisted the patent was theirs. Therefore he was never fully credited as the inventor of stainless steel. Brearly’s chrome formula for stainless steel was used around the world and a case of cutlery, the oldest known stainless steel in the world, sits in a case at the Cutler’s Hall in Sheffield,

 

Cover photo credit: wikipedia public domain.