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“Black Friday” as recession affects Summers

The outlook for the steel industry is bleak as the Great Depression spreads across the Atlantic to Europe and Summers’ exports dwindle to 25 per cent. The downturn in demand hits Deeside in the spring when the slump in demand which had earlier brought an end to steel rolling at Stalybridge affects Shotton.

On 24th April, on what became known locally as “Black Friday”, 4,000 of the 6,000 employees are sacked without any prior warning. They are handed a letter which reads:” The last few weeks have been the most unpleasant and anxious that the Directors have had to face. They realise that in the actions they are now taking they have to tell many of the firm’s loyal servants that there is no more work for them. They have studied every individual case and, while it is hard to dispense with those who have rendered faithful service to the company for many years, they feel that, in the interests of the firm, no other course is open to them. You will, however, be paid two weeks’ salary in lieu of notice.” The steelmaking plant is closed and the sheet mills kept rolling with a much reduced output.

One of the few bright spots is an order from the Argentine Government for 22,700 tons of galvanised sheets to use as a barrier against a threatened invasion of locusts. The sheets were to be stood upright, the idea being that the locusts would be unable to climb over them and so die. Speedy delivery is essential before the insects grow their wings. Shotton duly obliges!.