ironworks (blast furnace + power station) / Uckange / 1890 - 1991 / 2010
The Uckange ironworks were established in 1890 by the Stumms, a family of ironmasters which already owned a steel mill in Neunkirchen, Saarland. The purpose of the Uckange plant was to transform the local ore in pig iron, which was in turn transformed in steel at Neunkirchen. The first blast furnace (U1) was fired up in 1891, while three more (U2-U3-U4) were added in 1897-1898 and two others (U5-U6) in 1904. The Stumms era ended in 1919, when the site was taken over by Forges et Aciéries du Nord et de Lorraine (FANL) after a period of temporary receivership. Between 1928 and 1935 the site was largely renovated. U5 and U6 were shut down but the remaining ones were completely refurbished; with the addition of a new gas-fired power station the plant assumed the present configuration.
Until 1960 the Uckange ironworks worked mainly for the Saar steel industry. During the following years, anyway, the Lorraine iron and steel industry was subject to a general reorganization of national relevance. Several old ironworks were closed down and the overall production was concentrated in few large, efficient sites. Uckange was one of them. In 1965 FANL merged with the Saulnes steelworks, giving birth to Société des Hauts-Fourneaux Réunis de Saulnes et Uckange (HFRSU). A cost-cutting oriented strategy imposed the shift from local ores to imported ones, while U2 was shut down and dismantled and so it was for the power station - furnace gas was sent to the new Richemont power plant. In the late 1960s the ironworks produced about 1 Mt/y of pig iron and employed 1150 people.
In mid 1970s the plant worked on three blast furnaces: U1 (heart diameter 7 m; volume 1002 m3, 14 tuyeres), U3 (6,5 m, 710 m3, 14 tuyeres) and U4 (6,5 m, 710 m3, 16 tuyeres). If U1 was supplied via skip car, the others were still supplied through the original 1920s elevator. U4 was refurbished in 1976, but after that it remained inactive until 1988. Meanwhile U1 was renovated in turn while U3 was shut down definitively. Between 1986 and 1988 the regional iron and steel industry, controlled by USINOR-SACILOR, was organized in sector-oriented subsidiaries. The pig iron production (Uckange, Hayange, Rombas, Serémange) was transferred then to LORFONTE. After a short reactivation of U4 in 1989, this and U1 were shut down in 1991, signing then the end of Uckange ironworks.
Soon after the closure an association of former employees (MECILOR) was created with the aim to promote the conservation of U4 and remaining structures (power station, raw material bunkers, etc.). In 2001 the whole site was declared historical monument and slowly transformed into a cultural and memorial park. First opening to the public dates back to 2007.