The origins of the company go back to 1846 when Benjamin Smith erected three blast furnaces in the village of Staveley in Derbyshire, in an area rich in ironstone. The company grew and became the Staveley Coal & Iron Co. Ltd. in 1863.
At this time the company was employing 7,000 men and producing 20,000 tons of iron castings per year, which grew to 2.5 million tons by 1905. The company diversified into coal mining and had several collieries in the local area, but it also expanded to make use of what otherwise would have been waste products, such as coal tar. This introduced the firm to chemical production and distillation.
During the First World War the company began the production of sulphuric and nitric acids and TNT.
By the mid 20th century the Staveley Coal & Iron Co. had purchased salt bearing land near Sandbach, Cheshire, and begun the production of a range of salt based products and in 1938 the company was the first in Britain to manufacture sodium chlorate.
In 1960 the Staveley Coal & Iron Co., which had been taken over by Stewarts & Lloyds Ltd., was merged with the Ilkeston based Stanton Iron Works Co., to form Stanton & Staveley Ltd. In 1967 the business became part of the nationalised British Steel Corporation.