Buntings flooding the streets, glasses clanking together as people cheers and families belting wartime songs dancing around wafting Union Jack Flags remembering those who have sacrificed so much to enable us to live the lives we do today. Things will be slightly different on VE Day this year, but that doesn’t mean that history didn’t happen and shouldn’t be celebrated. OK, so maybe we can’t celebrate it how we’re used to, but there’s no stopping you enjoying the day and reflecting on the events.

The 8th May 1945 was a special day for many. It’s the day which marks the end of Adolf Hitler’s war and therefore created celebrations across the world. Victory in Europe was announced after six years of war, costing the lives of millions across the world. This weekend marks the 75-year anniversary since the guns fell silent. Although this weekend can’t be spent as it usually would, it’s important we all still find the time to reflect and remember the courage, selflessness and sacrifice which so many gave.

We’re lucky enough here at TSP Engineering to have a business built on such history and heritage, so we thought we’d take a trip down memory lane and fill you in on what TSP Engineering were up to all those years ago.

1939, Prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, Britain obtained the bulk of its special steel from Sweden. This source of supply was cut off when the Nazis invaded the Low Countries and Norway in 1940. Supplies of the special steels were then, for a short period of time, obtained from the USA. This route was also blocked because the USA made the decision to re-arm and the U Boat campaign made it extremely difficult to continue. This, along with other factors, such as a chronic shortage of foreign currency, resulted in the British Government deciding to build an Electric Steelmaking Plant in West Cumbria. This location was chosen as it was considered to be safe from attacks from the German Bombers. The building of seven Electric Steelmaking Furnaces was an exciting development in the history of Steelmaking in the area.

1941, In February work started in earnest on the A1 Furnace and was completed and commissioned adjacent to the Bessemer Plant the following year on the Moss Bay site.

1942, The commissioning of the 5 * 20t Electric Arc Furnaces on the Chapel Bank Site, which is the home of TSP Engineering today, took place. The Arc Furnaces operation was said to the be the largest plant of its kind in Europe, and most probably the largest in the world at that time. In June, 15 months after the beginning of construction, a sixth Furnace was built at the Chapel Bank site but was never operated.



1945, United Steel Co. changed the name of the company from Distington Hematite Iron Company, to DISTINGTON Engineering Co. The newly formed company set up the Westfield Housing Association, who built and managed 130 hours to assist in the recruitment of skilled labour.

The end of the war was now in sight and the Minister of Supply decided to close all the Furnaces at Chapel Bank and sell them to Sweden and South Africa. However, the A1 Furnace on the Moss Bay site transferred into the ownership of Workington Iron and Steel Company and remained operational for a further 30 years.


1946, United Steel Company bought the remaining assets for £910,000 and part of the Chapel Bank site was converted into an Iron Foundry (operational until 1980) and the remaining buildings were converted into a Machine and Fabrication Shop, both of which are still operating today.


TSP Engineering has evolved from a business which once focused solely on meeting demand in the iron/steel industry, to focusing on several different industries. In order to grow we understood we had to adapt, evolve and enter new markets. We are extremely lucky to be able to look back at the businesses history and be a part of such an amazing long-serving industry.



Many thanks to John Lawson for your contribution regarding information for this article.