To speak of the enormous increase in the production of steel by the introduction of the Bessemer process has become a commonplace on occasions like the present, and yet I doubt whether its real dimensions are generally known or remembered. In 1869 the manufacture of Bessemer steel had already acquired what was then looked upon as a considerable development in all the principal centers of metallurgical industry, except the United States, but including our own country, Germany, France, and Austria, and the world's production in that year was 400,000 tons. Last year it was over 5,000,000 tons, and it has doubled in every steel-producing country during the last four years, except in France, where, during this latter period, the increase has not been much more than one-fourth. What is almost as remarkable as the enormous increase in the production of Bessemer steel is the great diminution in its cost. In the years preceding 1875, the price of rails manufactured from Bessemer ingots fluctuated between £10 and £18 per ton, and I remember Lord George Hamilton when he was Under-Secretary for India of Lord Beaconsfield's administration in 1875 or 1876, congratulating himself on his good fortune in having been able to secure a quantity of steel rails for the Indian government at £13 per ton.
Within the last three years we have seen them sold under £4 10s. in this country, and £5 10s. in Germany and Belgium.