The B.H.P. Co. Ltd., first applied for shares in the Commonwealth Steel Products Pty Ltd in 1929. Ultimately they acquired 20,000 shares and Mr. Essington Lewis was appointed a director. He was to play a vigorous part in the period of expansion which lay ahead.
In March 1931, English Steel Corporation acquired the shares originally bought by Vickers Ltd. – thus forming a link which gave the Company access to a vast amount of research and experience in the manufacture of Special Steels.
Between 1930-1933 the Great Depression took hold globally which left many firms unable to regroup following the Depression. During this time the plant operated on a part-time basis which helped hold together its staff and skilled employees against the time when they would again be in full employment. This allowed the company to react favourably at the end of the Depression and by 1935 CSP has brought the No.2 EAF online.
In 1934, Prince Henry, the Duke of Gloucester visited Australia on a royal tour. The major purpose of this tour was to participate in the centenary celebrations of the state of Victoria. He also unveiled and dedicated Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance, the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park Sydney and visited the CSC plant in Waratah.
In April 1935, Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. acquired all of the shares held by the English Steel Corporation and Taylor Bros. The registered company name changed to the Commonwealth Steel Company Limited.
From 1935 onwards, there were a number of influences on the political world-stage that preceded the rapid growth of the Company.
The tender for the construction of the extensions to the original Admin Building were accepted in Feb 1936. The 3 storey building was designed by Newcastle architects, Pitt & Merewether and construction was carried out by W Stronach.
In 1936 the installation of the Edgewater Universal Tyre Mill was completed. In addition to tyres, this was capable of rolling the one-piece solid wheels increasingly coming into use.
The Imperial Conference held in London in 1936 led to the development of the Directorate of Industrial Planning, an offshoot of the British War Office.
At that time, two of CSC’s representatives were in England investigating the manufacture of tools steels and other special steels. Following a meeting with the Directorate of Industrial Planning, they were asked about the possibility of manufacturing in Australia the nickel-chrome-molybdenum steel required for gun barrels and also to investigate the possibility of making steel for shells and bombs. Of all the great steel works in England only a few were capable of producing gun steel that would meet the very drastic test requirements of Woolwich Arsenal.
CSC began working on the development of this nickel-chrome-molybdenum steel and the first successful heat was produced in August, 1937. That was the first occasion gun steel had ever been made in Australia and CSC were the first to produce it.
Planning for the special steels plant was begun in 1938 and the plant commenced production in 1941.
In the years that followed, incidentally, the success of those developments made this Company the central point in Australia for information regarding ordnance steels and their related problems and it eventually came to possess probably the greatest store of such information in the Commonwealth. You can imagine how valuable that knowledge proved during the subsequent War years.