A new permanent exhibition charting the history of the site at Magna is opening at the visitor attraction, thanks to money from the National Lottery.
Steelos Gallery, supported by a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £74,800, tells the story from Roman times to the present day.
The gallery, near the entrance, features video, audio, touch screens and a giant map. The content was researched by volunteers and staff at Magna, helped by a researcher from the University of Sheffield.
Stuart Ballard, Magna’s education manager, said:
We wanted to tell the story of the site to set this building in context. There was an iron works here when there was a Roman fort at Templeborough, and these steelworks were vital during the First World War.
This building is as important to this area as Chatsworth, or Cannon Hall. The heritage of Sheffield and Rotherham was built on steel.
At its height Magna employed 10,000 people and produced up to 2 million tonnes of steel a year. The steelworks, which were a mile long and once Europe’s largest, were known as Steelos, after the owners Steel, Peech and Tozer.
There were 14 open-hearth furnaces and 14 chimneys, which were replaced in the 1960s with electric arc furnaces. The steelworks closed in 1993 and the melting shop mothballed until conversion to Magna in 2001.
One of the arc furnaces is now a giant pyrotechnic display in the visitor centre called the Big Melt. Regular steel tours telling the story of Magna are led by former steel workers.
As well as being a visitor attraction with more than 100 hands-on exhibits designed to explore the four ‘elements’ of air, earth, fire and water, Magna hosts regular school trips and is a corporate and events venue with spaces that can cater for five to 5,000 people.
The gallery will be officially opened on February 4 by Rotherham mayor Maggi Clark and will then be open to the public for half-term.