Göran Fredrik Göransson (1819–1900)

Göran Fredrik Göransson was one of Europe’s first industrialists who had a truly international perspective on industry, technology and business. Born at Gävle in Sweden, as a young man he spent 18 months observing business practices in Germany, France, Britain and the United States and learning foreign languages. He became a pioneer in the mass-production of steel when he went into partnership with the British inventor Henry Bessemer.

From 1841, Göransson was involved in his family’s shipping and trading business and brought his experience of methods in countries he had visited. Among other interests, the company sold iron on global markets. He became its director in 1856, when the company acquired the Högbo ironworks and the Edske blast furnace near Gävle. In 1857 he went to Britain to buy a steam engine. While there he acquired a one-fifth share in Bessemer’s newly invented process for making mild steel, which combined many of the qualities of cast iron and wrought iron and became the predominant material used in construction. The invention transformed the iron and steel industries world-wide. Göransson was the first manufacturer to demonstrate the successful application of the Bessemer converter, in July 1858, and introduced important improvements to the flow of blast air through the tuyeres, which Bessemer took up.

In 1862, Göransson demonstrated the Bessemer process at the London international exhibition and founded a new steelworks at Sandviken. The new works was in an uninhabited area close to supplies of iron ore. He built a village with good living conditions to attract a workforce, including gardens, free firewood and free medicine. He also established a charitable foundation to care for the sick and elderly and provide grants for students. The Sandviken company is still in business as a global engineering group.