Ferrous metals are defined as those in which the element iron predominates. The earliest use of the metal was for the manufacture of implements and weapons in the Iron Age commencing in Europe circa
1200 BC. Significant developments were the use by Wren in 1675 of a wrought iron chain in tension to restrain the outward thrust from the dome of St Paul’s Cathedral, the use of cast iron in compression for the Ironbridge at Coalbrookdale in 1779, and by Paxton in the prefabricated sections of the Crystal Palace in 1851. Steel is a relatively recent material, only being available in quantity following the development of the Bessemer converter in the late nineteenth century. The first steelframe high-rise building of 10 storeys was built in 1885 in Chicago by William le Baron Jenney.
The elegance of steel is illustrated by the redevelopment of the King’s Cross rail terminal in London . Designed by John McAslan and Partners, it creates a large open concourse with improved passenger facilities and retail outlets. The fan-shaped lattice of welded tubular steel forms a semicircular light and airy space focusing on the central cluster of columns.