Workers leaving I.C.I. Billingham. c1955

t375A photograph of employees leaving work from I.C.I at the Billingham West gate. The nitro chalk tower can be seen in the background. There are several buses waiting to take the workers home, some have their own cars and several workers can be seen walking and cycling. There are several street lamps lighting the road.

38 thoughts on “Workers leaving I.C.I. Billingham. c1955

  1. Ronald Bethel may have worked here from 1930s onward, he may have been there till the 60s. Think he worked in the labs. Would love to hear from anyone that knew him
    Many thanks Anne

    Like

  2. I’m trying to find out any information on my granddad James Fagan. He died in an industrial accident at work in Billingham on 1st May 1975. I’m not trying to do anything clever but am just after a copy of the newspaper report or any other info would be great.
    Thank you in advance
    Tony

    Like

    • Tony, Middlesbrough library have old copies of the Evening Gazette on micro-film to look at, the fact you have a date will help you narrow down your search. You can also look at the Northern Echo and Stockton and Darlington Times at Darlington library as they may also have covered the story. These services are also available at the Reference Library, Stockton Central Library.
      You could also try Teesside Archives in Middlesbrough, they may hold old records from ICI, give it a try

      Like

  3. From 1966 to 1979 I lived at 16 Roscoe Road which is very near to the west gate, I remember watching hundreds of workers streaming through the gates, and the noises and smells from the ICI, the night flaring was the worst noise, not a wink of sleep to be had !

    Like

  4. Hello everyone, I don’t know if anyone can, but I am looking for any information or pictures of Bridie O’Hara, she was something to do with personal or training…
    I now look after her at a ripe old age of nearly 93, I just thought it would be good to try and get some reminders of her younger days. Many thanks kathryn

    Like

  5. Tower in the photograph part of the nitro-chalk fertiliser plant. Closed and dismantled early 1970s when the Nitram plants opened.

    Like

  6. I remember all of the ICI buses going up and down Tanners Bank/Billingham Road. We used to live in 59 Billingham Road. My fathers name was Terry Gilhooley, he was quite well known locally, does anyone remember him?

    Like

  7. My dad gave 27 years to ICI Billingham/Wilton etc. He was a lab assisitant and I remember him saying he had to test chemicals and acids. There was a time all the labs were being refurbished and they were pulling down the asbestos sheets and he went mad because of all the dust. I want to get into contact with any lab workers who served between 1960 and 1990 who may have had or be having chest problems.
    My dad Arthur David Martin sadly passed away a year ago with pulmonary fibrosis and I feel the actual cause of his death is still unknown. At his inquest they stated ‘there were asbestos fibres but within safe amounts’ but his lungs were so badly scarred they couldn’t determine the cause. A natural death was recorded. There were so many things wrong on the post mortem report, I don’t know how they could give an accurate and true report! My apologies for being morbid in my post – but I would like to hear from anyone in a similar position. Picture Stockton has my contact details if anyone wishes to get in touch.

    Like

  8. Anyone remember the mysterious death of Joe (Joseph Phillis)? He fell from the ICI tower in March 1966 and died in Middlesborough General Hospital on March the 25th 1966. He had just moved to Thornaby onto Havilland Road with his family from Nottingham. Any information would be helpful.

    Like

  9. I remember working at ICI in the late sixties. The west gate area was where the welding workshops were for testing etc. but the bulk of the work was carried out in east area. On maintenance work we could be in the sulphuric acid plant where we had to wear pink teddy bear (acid resistant) suits. In the boiler house, or even inside the boilers, on a shutdown was hot as hell. Then there were the roll mills – the noisiest place ever where the coal was crushed. There was the rail yard where the trucks were tipped upside down to empty them. I even worked down the stone mine for quite a while. It was a big operation with 20 ton earth carrying trucks and articulated dozers with huge buckets for loading. I remember living in Billingham as a kid and feeling the blasting from the mine, things jumped off the wall and mantelpiece. The boilerhouse steam blew for hours on end and the mile long trains used to shunt in and out, day and night. I suppose it is a lot quieter now as most of the heavy industry has gone. Good or bad, thats what we had.

    Like

  10. I worked at ICI in 1941 at no 2 process office. I then worked there again in 1948 to 1956, after leaving the RAF, I was a fitter on the drikold plant. As for the comment about it ‘might be the manager leaving in his car’, it could have been a fitter. I had a car, it was a 1938 Hillman minx. The only others who had cars were a joiner and an electrician, the manager rode a bike.

    Like

    • Hi I am searching my family tree and if you worked there from 1948-1956, you may would know my great uncle, his name was Thomas. L Cooke (Known as Leonard), he died there while he was working on the tracks in 1954, aged 24. Did you know him or about him?
      Any help is much appreciated.

      Like

  11. My wife’s grandfather, Frederick Ray, was a works manager at Billingham and eventually Personnel Director so probably rode in one of the Austin limos to and from his ICI house at Stockton. He retired around 1955.

    Like

  12. Apologies for not relating to the photo. My late husband and I lived in Billingham and he worked at that plant from 1962 to 1964. We lived at the ICI Estate with other employees. I have been searching for a long time for a family who also lived on the Estate and was very kind to us. His name is ARNE HAAGENSEN, his wife is GRISELDA and two of his three daughters are named Trudi and Trina. It would mean a great deal to me if I could find a way to contact them. As a matter of interest, I still remember the paternoster (continuous lift) that was in the main building at ICI – I have never seen one again nor do I know anyone who has ever seen one! Hoping to hear something about the Haagensens.

    Like

    • I remember the lift in ADO when I went for an interview once a long time ago. I have seen a similar contraption in a University building somewhere but I cant recall exactly where.

      Like

      • There was a paternoster at Sheffield university. I think there was a tragic accident when someone was killed , crushed at the top. It was removed I know that. But I remember using it.

        Like

  13. The Billingham Ammonia Plants and the facilities at Portrack were taken over by Terra, an American company, in the 90’s . I believe they are still operating but with a much reduced workforce.

    Like

  14. F.T.A.O. Donald Moore. I.C.I. was bought out by AKZO-NOBEL in January 2008. It had previously seperated into two organisations Zeneca Pharmaceuticals and I.C.I. Most of the plants on the Billingham site have since been sold on to various Chemical companies or closed down, its certainly not the site it used to be, more open spaces than industry.

    Like

  15. I worked at ICI Billingham [nylon plant in the laboratories] in 1964 then transferred to dorman long bye-products in 1965 at Port Clarence works for year, going back to ICI a year later. My dad was a builder who had his workshop opposite the Temperance hotel near Stockton station [called J.O. Moore and son]. He used to do a lot of work at Haverton Hill at the schools there mending windows and stuff and when I was off school I used to accompany him. We often would bike to Seaton from Stockton as kids and pass through the various smells of ICI [the fishy smell etc. I have heard that ICI has been taken over is its Billingham works still opperating?

    Like

  16. I came across these pictures after searching for family tree stuff…

    My Greatgrandparents (Sam and Kathleen Rowe) and Grandparents (Bobby and Beatrice Donovan) lived at the end of Chilton’s Avenue, my Mum (Kathy Donovan) said she could just about remember as a child all the men coming past the house on their bikes.. I can imagine it was a sight to see.

    I also found out that my Grandad Robert(Bobby)Donovan worked as a Labourer/fitters labourer at the site in the late 1940’s until he passed away in 1951. Sadly don’t know much more but interesting to see what the end of the working day would have looked like for him.

    Like

  17. Many thanks for information, since I last entered my info on the log I have found that my dad did indeed work for the Malleable I think Norman Thompson then for Dorman Long too, so maybe your Stan & my dad Bob (Robert Hesk ) did know each other.

    As Dorman Long etc were the main employer I’m betting most families had at least one per household working there at some time or another.

    It would be great if someone had some written confirmation to share of who worked there & when.

    I was born at Haverton Hill (or up the hill as they used to call it).

    When I was still a baby my mam, dad, & big sister Jean moved to live in rooms above the fishshop in Bath Lane. Mam worked there with Ginny Walsh
    (not Ginny’s real surname it was made short as her husband was polish I think). Mam worked there to pay for the rooms.

    We then moved to Portrack & from there to Doncaster Crescent, Ragworth.

    Like

  18. Ann I’m afraid I don’t remember your father, the reason for this post is that my father Stan Renwick followed a somewhat similar path to yours. He worked at the Malleable in Stockton till steel production was stopped, in the early 50’s if memory serves. He then went to Billingham to the Thompson boiler plant and from there to Dorman Long on the Redcar trunk road. Perhaps they knew each other. I remember scenes like the photograph very well and the dedicated cycle track that ran alongside the Fleet Bridge road, now part of the A19, which ran from Newport Bridge to Billingham Bottoms. By the time I started at Billingham in 1965, before moving to Wilton cars were much more numerous. So before his death we worked opposite one another.

    Like

  19. Does anyone remember my Dad Robert William Hesk? I think he worked for ICI & Norman Long sometime during the 1950’s 60’s. I know very little of his working life as he died when I was 13 years old. I do remember when he came home from work he would have his dinner, put on his starched shirt & collar then go for a few pints at the Portrack club (we lived at 3 Lamport Close, Portrack). Once a year he would hire a car for one week & we would go on day trips to Seaton, Redcar, Whitby & Saltburn where we would sit on the beach for most of the day whatever the weather (oh those were the days). Any information no matter how small would be most welcome. I live in Northampton now & miss the North so much I visit every chance I get.

    Like

  20. Brilliant, I started my working life in 1966 as a messenger boy out of head office.

    As a kid I dreamed about having a "Tootleten" until I found out what it really was!

    Fond memories.

    Like

  21. My Dad worked at Research just inside the West Gate (Nearly all the men in our family worked for ICI). I just took a look at the West Gate’s location on Google’s “Street View”. Its completely desolate. What a sad end to such an important local employer – a perfect reflection on the story of Teesside I suppose.

    Like

  22. This picture reminds me of my days in Roscoe Road. I moved there with my family in 1952. We lived in the very house which later became the store shop. It is certainly nostalgic to see a photo of activity that I witnessed as a boy many times, normally preceded by a loud hooter.

    Like

  23. My father, a long serving ICI man, worked the “continental” shift pattern described by Frank Bowron (as I did myself when I worked there. The house had to be as silent as the grave when he was in bed off night shift, it must have been difficult for my Mum, especially during the hols, with 4 boys to keep quiet. When my time came, and I was trying to sleep during the day, after night shift, I could have cheerfully throttled every boy who kicked a ball, every mother screeching at her children, every driver banging a car door…no wonder I developed baggy eyes (I still have them!)and a semi permanent headache! (now gone).

    Like

  24. “2 “til 10” – that brings back memories… As a young sprog I misheard the names of the shifts as real words which I thought were “tootleten”, “sixtleto” and “tentlesix”. When Dad was on tentlesix I had to be very quiet. So quiet in fact that on weekends and school holidays I spent the whole day out of the house – summer or winter.

    Like

  25. Bob Harbron: I used to go to the I C I shop at the West Gate for a container of “Domestos” -sodium hypochlorite – which was cheaper and seemed more concentrated than the commercial product. In fact I believe the Domestos brand came about in around 1929 when an enterprising Newcastle man began to buy the ICI product in bulk and sell it door to door in stone flagons, which could be re-filled, as a bleach and anti-bacterial product. Domestos at Newcastle, which became part of Unilever in 1961 , packaged and promoted the product.

    Like

  26. From the sun-shadow and the buses could this be a 2-10 shift -change, as the number pouring out at 4-30 had the buses at a bus-station far side of Chilton- House. The building in front of the second bus was the I C I shop, Dennis Swales was the manager at this time , where it was possible to buy Fertilser and I.C I horticulural (Rose, Tomato and Lawn) products at reduced prices as well as off cuts of perspex, boarding and timber (from pallets) and Domestos , in a black plastic container

    Like

  27. The big I C I Austin Sheerline and Princess saloons with their grey uniformed chauffeurs were a common sight in the area in the 1950s and 60s. They could often be seen at Darlington railway station either dropping or collecting managers, possibly from I.C.I. H Q, Millbank House in London. A favourite service for senior managers or Board members was the Tees-Tyne Pullman from King”s Cross,arriving at C8.45 p.m. ,with full dining facilities at every seat and the legendary Hadrian Bar car for which this train was famous.They would then be whisked in the limo, possibly to Norton Hall on The Green for an overnight stay. I would sometimes walk past the Hall windows,usually salivating profusely, on my way down Beaconsfield Road for a bus to Billingham in the early 1960s. Inside the dining room it would be beautifully presented tables with crisp white linen and no doubt a”full English” on offer, which on a frosty winter”s morning I could have done justice to! As for the rest of the photograph the West Gate at around 4.30p.m. was a sight to behold as apparently endless workers streamed out of the place, either on to buses, on foot or on bikes which ranged from the presentable to the utterly decrepit. As the 1960s went by the numbers decreased somewhat and the rising number of private cars became noticeable.

    Like

    • The sight of ICI workers streaming down Billingham Bank used to be better than any Tour de France. The inside lane of the old bank used to be cobbled. Those on bikes without brakes
      used to slam their boots onto the road, sparks flying from the cobbles, some with frantic expressions of panic on their faces as it became obvious that they were losing the battle to stop.

      Like

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s