6 thoughts on “Water tank manufactured by W. Cockburn & Co

  1. Was Stockton Castings on Ross Road when it moved to Portrack owned by a guy called Wolviston, it is now the premises of Jeff Allen Engineering, he is a Norton guy. Multi-skilling in industries was only a means to reducing a workforce, nothing to do with management taking back control from the unions.


    • Yes the place did move to Ross Road and I believe there for many years.
      ICI had allowed the Unions to dictate to management, although Boilermakers were skilled men the demarcations in that one trade ridiculous. Multi trade allowed the skilled men to do all of the trade they had served their time for and allowed them the pay adjustment for that skill. The heavy Fabrication department welcomed the chance to do that and in my time in charge nobody complained about extra money. The system became the norm and was taken up by other firms in the area though they had not suffered the drastic restrictions ICI had.
      The men on the scheme were retrained and those needing it upgraded. The result was men not being stuck waiting for a boilersmith being available to cut out one bad one inch tack weld as had happened in the past. It certainly speeded up Shut Downs, the whole idea. The Union Conveyor sat in my office and told me it was the best thing that had happened in his time. Oh and yes I get a Union pension, you had to be in the supervision branch of the Boilermakers to be in charge of them.


  2. Billy Cockburn was at the other end of Prince Regent Street going down from Dovecot Street, the street at that time was a blanc end with Stockton Iron Foundry between Prince Regent Street and West Row. Billy’s place was at the end of the foundry although he also used a couple of empty properties across the street. Browns Sheet Iron and Billy often shared work when I worked for Browns, both firms noted for the quality of the work they did. The buildings they used were make shift although in my time some very large jobs were fabricated by both firms. With the end of the war the products made changed from war work to more normal jobs, Browns went more into ducting, cyclones, dust extraction, Billy must have gone into water tanks.


    • Frank, just a question to you. My father in the late fifties/early sixties worked behind Prince Regent Street in what was called Ray’s Brass foundry, then it moved premises down to Portrack, can you remember this?, was it known as Stockton Iron foundry before?
      Another personal question, were you an estimator in ICI Eng workshop ?, or is my mind playing tricks. I was a deputy estimator for a while in the Machine Shop and I’m trying to think I know you?


      • Dave – It was Stockton Casting Company in its early days and became Raes Brass Foundry and yes they did move to Portrack. They produced many types of small castings for the local machine shops which employed many women machinists in my time, war workers who took to the jobs like ducks to water. I went in the army and things had moved on by the time I came back home.
        Yes I was an Estimator at one time and became Foreman of the Heavy Fabrication shop. We introduced Multi trade working and became more mobile in that we worked on some of the many Shut Downs. It was a time of change at ICI where management took back control from the Unions among other changes, a dynamic era as many of us could see what was coming although I do not think any of us saw the total demise of the Industry.
        You probably did know of me as we worked closely with all of the shops and I was often in the machine shop making sure work needed on site would be ready in time, when an extra day on a shut down meant ICI lost £1,000,000 a time you did not want your neck on the block.


        • Frank, Thanks for that on both counts. I thought I new you. I deputised for Ron Price, Frank McCormick and John Hobson for a couple of years then I decided on becoming a supervisor so had to pack the estimating in. On several jobs where different trades were involved required talking to such as yourselves to see what and how many operations were required on the planning notes. There was plenty of talented people who would share their knowledge and help you if needed. I eventually re_ joined planning, as you said being on Overhaulls was the way to progress. I transferred from Billingham to Runcorn in 1988. Having being predominantly machine shop based to working on most of the plants on Runcorn, planning, supervising and eventually managing many S/Downs. Now retired but what a fantastic work life.
          Dave. Nice to know you are still fit and well.


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