Important Message

Dear Customer,

After 123 years of trading, Charles Butcher and Co Ltd, and its operating company, Durham Foundry (Sheffield) Ltd, are ceasing trading. This has not been an easy decision but the board believes that it is the right time to do so and is in the best interests of the shareholders. This is a planned closure and the companies are wholly solvent.

Current orders will be honoured but we will be unable, unless specifically agreed, to take on any new work.

To enable the closure to happen as smoothly as possible, we have entered into an agreement to try and transfer work to Canlin Castings Ltd. They are a similar foundry to Durham Foundry offering the same range of material grades, quantities and weights. Their details are:-

Canlin Castings Ltd,
North Street,
Langley Mill,
NG16 4DF

Tel: 01773 715412

The contact there, to discuss how work may be transferred, is David Carlin who can be contacted at

If you wish to discuss anything regarding the closure, please contact me on 0114 249 4977 or email me at

Mike Naylor
Chairman and Managing Director
Charles Butcher and Co Ltd and Durham Foundry (Sheffield) Ltd

Durham Foundry Logo
ISOQAR Registered & UKAS Management Systems

Certificate Number 8140

ISO 9001 | ISO 14001

Grey Iron Castings

Grey iron is an alloy of iron, carbon and silicon which refers to a range of cast irons which solidify with a eutectic. Consequently these alloys should be considered ternary Fe-C-Si alloys. Despite this, the principles of cast iron solidification are understood from the binary iron-carbon phase diagram, where the eutectic point lies at 1154°C and 4.3 wt% carbon. 

Grey Iron Castings & Grey Cast Iron Principles

The term grey is used because of the colour of the fracture surface if a piece is broken. If molten cast iron is allowed to cool normally the carbon comes out of solution and forms flakes of graphite which run through the ferrite/pearlite matrix, hence the alternative term, flake graphite iron. These flakes are at the microscopic level, the ends of which form stress points in the cast iron.

At Durham Foundry we produce our grey iron from a melt of pig iron and steel scrap, with small additions of carbon, ferro silicon, ferro manganese, ferro sulphide and a zirconium based ferro silicon innoculant. These materials have a known analysis giving a reliable result for every melt. If cast iron is subject to a compressive load these stress points are not particularly detrimental and flake graphite cast iron is excellent under compression, although its use is more limited where it is subject to bending or shock loading.

Grey Cast Iron Production

At Durham Foundry we have been producing grey iron castings for over a hundred years. As well as grey iron castings, our customer base also covers ductile and alloyed irons for the engineering, decorative, architectural and artistic sectors and we can supply castings from one off up to small to medium batch production using Alkali Phenolic resin bonded sands.

Our workforce of highly skilled moulders can work from complex loose pattern equipment, particularly where low volumes are required, whilst our moulding line is suited for batch production. Our long trading history, coupled with an investment programme that has enabled us to keep up with modern production methods and environmental legislation has meant that we have been involved with many projects requiring ductile iron castings and continue to be so.

Grey cast iron came into its own during the industrial revolution when improved production methods and understanding of the metallurgy led to more a reliable material that could be cast into an increasing number of different shapes and section thicknesses. The Victorian era saw an explosion in the use of cast iron and that has continued to this day due to the combination of the ability to cast complex shapes at low cost compared to other production methods and materials.

Grey Iron Castings Certification

All our grey iron castings are produced to the current ISO material specification, ISO 185 2005, along with any further certification which a customer may require. Our diverse customer base has also given us experience in a wide range of applications for grey iron castings, including pumps and valves, forges, foundries and rolling mills, automotive and aerospace, a wide range of OEM’s, quarries and mines, railways and rolling stock, local authorities, artists and sculptors.

We also have long term trading relationships with local pattern makers, machine shops and surface finishers which enable us to quote for the complete supply of the finished casting. Call Durham Foundry on 0114 249 4977 to discuss your Grey Iron Castings and Gray Iron Castings project.

Grey Iron Castings Methodology

Grey iron can be alloyed with small amounts of copper, molybdenum, vanadium or chrome to produce increasingly stronger irons as the alloy levels are increased. This is achieved by controlling the amount of ferrite and pearlite in the iron matrix. Ferrite is much softer that pearlite so alloys are used, along with lower levels of carbon and silicon, which will promote a pearlitic structure.

These alloyed grey irons have applications where a higher tensile strength or hardness is required. These alloys also produce an iron that can respond to heat treatment although this is uncommon. The only heat treatment routinely used is either stress relieving or annealing. With the addition of nickel up to 30% and chrome at smaller levels a range of austenitic grey irons can be produced which have improved properties at elevated temperatures and in aggressive atmospheres and environments.

Grey Iron Castings Confusion

One area of potential confusion is the spelling of the word ‘grey’. This can be spelt either as ‘grey’ or as ‘gray’ although gray tends to be an American usage. Please browse our website for more information about Durham Foundry and our ability to manufacture Grey Iron Castings & Grey Cast Iron then contact us on 0114 249 4977 or e-mail us on