ICI Billingham c1970

Imperial Chemicals Company (ICI) was founded in December 1926, from the merger of four companies: Brunner Mond, Nobel Explosives, United Alkali Company, and British Dyestuffs Corporation. This joint-merger was to enable the British chemicals industry to compete worldwide with DuPont Chemicals, USA, and IG Farben Chemicals, Germany. (I G Farben was dissolved in 1945/46) the new ICI company produced chemicals,explosives, fertilisers, insecticides, dyestuffs, non-ferrous metals, and paints. ICI played a key role in manufacturing Perspex, Dulux paints, polyethylene and Terylene, and in a joint venture with Courtaulds Ltd, they produced Nylon. The first trading year the turnover was £27 million. In the 1940s and 50s, the company established its famous pharmaceutical business and developed a number of key fabric products including Crimplene. In 1962, ICI developed the controversial herbicide, paraquat. Early pesticide development included Gramoxone, an efficient herbicide that apart from killing weeds also killed insects and worms. From 1982 to 1987, the company was led by the charismatic John Harvey-Jones. In June 2007, the Dutch firm AkzoNobel (owner of Crown Berger paints) bid £7.2 billion for ICI. The initial bid was rejected by the ICI board. However, a subsequent bid for £8 billion was accepted in August 2007. Completion of the takeover of ICI by AkzoNobel was announced on 2 January 2008. As we all know the main ICI plants were situated in Billingham and Wilton. At one time ICI industries employed 60 000 staff.

Details courtesy of Bob Wilson. Photo © Ben Brooksbank (cc-by-sa/2.0)

View from Port Clarence c1880

This view is taken from the top of the Bell Ironworks blast furnaces in Port Clarence. The two men would have had the job of charging the blast furnaces, dropping iron ore, coke and limestone into what is called the bell. I would guess that the furnace at this time would have been off line.

There is a ferry, halfway across the river, in the middle distance. This would have been at the location where the Transporter Bridge now stands. The Clarence Railway comes in from the Stockton direction, on an embankment (which is still there), and then splits into branches serving the blast furnaces, salt wells and tar distilleries. But it is possible that the turn off to the river is where the original staithes at Port Clarence were built. The buildings near the railway bridge (hard to make out) , which goes over the road leading to the ferries, would have been part of the Port Clarence railway station.

Image and details courtesy of Fred Starr.

Ashmore, Benson & Pease Company Memorial Plaques, August 2018

The Ashmore, Benson & Pease Co., 1914 – 1918 memorial plaque from the Bowesfield Works. It reads:

“Lest We Forget”
To the enduring memory of comrades from these works, who gave their lives, in the Great War. 1914 – 1918
Appleby J, Evis P.C, Owen A, Branson F.A,  Foster C.E, Ramsey J, Brown E, Jackson E, Rowntree J.N, Clasper T.S, King J, Scott G.S, Craggs C.E., Martin W.H, Doughty H, O’Brien P.

Also nearby is the foundation/commemoration stone for South Works. It reads:

1873 – 1951
The Power Gas Corporation Ltd. Ashmore Benson & Pease Company
This stone commemorates the establishment of the South Works and was and was unveiled on the 14th July 1951 by Wilfred Beswick and Alfred Lonsdale

Both are in dubious condition and can be found in the car park of Jacobs office on Bowesfield.

Photographs and details courtesy of Alec Moody.

50th Anniversary of Stockton Castings Portrack

This picture of a 50th Anniversary Celebration at Stockton Castings was taken from a booklet commemorating the history of foundries on Teesside. There is an even earlier set of pictures from 1947.

I was loaned a copy by Mr Alex Fleming of the company, following a visit by members of the Newcomen Society for the Study of Industrial History and Engineering, on 17th July 2018. So Stockton Castings have now been going for over 70 years. Our members were very impressed by the way the foundry is now laid out, to ease manhandling and ensure that the castings are of the highest integrity.

Courtesy of Fred Starr.

Stockton Castings

Stockton Castings, a jobbing foundry in Ross Road, Portrack came into existence in 1947, and last year to celebrate its 70th Anniversary put up some pictures in its reception area. These appear to show the official opening back then. The casting being handled is a plaque, which has been cast by “His Worship the Mayor… on July 6th 1947”

As a kid, in the fifties, I just about remember the set of industrial buildings coming into existence in Ross Road and along that stretch of Portrack Lane. Stockton Castings must have been one of the first to be built.

Photographs and details courtesy of Fred Starr.

Michaelson Road Bridge built by Head Wrightson

The Michaelson Road Bridge in Barrow-in-Furness was built in two stages to replace the old Lift and Roll bridge by Head Wrightson c1960s. Due to submarines being built in the same area, the bridge was constructed in a vertical position and once complete it was maneuvered into its horizontal position.

Photograph and details courtesy of Tony Campbell.

Foundries of Thornaby

Following on from Philip Moore’s photograph of the Motor Cylinder Department at Crosthwaites in the 1920s, is this ragged article showing that by 1966 Crosthwaites was closing down and the teams moving to the Bon Lea Foundry including 8 women to join the 25 woman already there. The Bon Lea would survive only another 10 years or so. The main photograph shows Margaret Armstrong. Kathy Wrightson a co worker was only 17. I wonder if any Bon Lea workers are still with us? I am researching Thornaby foundries for the Thornaby Lives project and would love to hear from them.

Image and details courtesy of Derek Smith.

Head Wrightson TNPG ‘Dungeness’

Heat exchangers built at Head Wrightson, Thornaby for Dungeness Power Station. The heat exchangers were wrapped in timbers and trunnions added before being launched into the Tees. They were towed down to Dungeness and then rolled up the shingle beach before being installed in the power station.

Photograph and details courtesy of Tony Campbell.