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BSC study groups in Japan

With open hearth steelmaking being replaced by more modern processes, the trend particularly in places like Japan, is to concentrate bulk steel production at coastal sites able to deal with large sea carriers of raw materials, notably iron ore.

The first of several Corporation study groups visits Japan to investigate the rapidly expanding steel industry which is twice as productive as that in the UK. The concept is of large blast furnaces, increased basic oxygen steelmaking capacity, rolling mills with more flexible output, lower use of manpower, ports capable of taking large bulk carriers for the import of high quality iron ore, and sophisticated finishing plants. There are rumours about the long-term future of Shotton’s “heavy end” with its obsolete open hearth furnaces and hot strip mill, now thirty years old.

Consideration is given to the replacement of open hearth furnaces with LD furnaces and Shotton senior managers, A.Reith Gray, Stephen Gray and W.H.Schofield, and J.G.Colville, of Colvilles, Scotland, travel to America to study LD steelmaking at Pittsburg, Conshohoken and Weirton steelworks. No further action is taken. ( Source: 30th July 2014 e.mail W.H.Schofield).

In its final year in private hands, ie 1967, John Summers and Sons made a profit of £1.3 million compared with £4 million the previous year.

Sir Richard Summers and Reith Gray, a director and General Manager at Shotton since 1939, and Managing Director since the death of Neville Rollason in 1963, retire in September. Together the three men shaped the future of the works from the late 1930s through to the 1960s. They were largely responsible for guiding the company to the status of world leaders as manufacturers of sheet steel, and they formed one of the most powerful and successful teams the British Steel industry had ever known.

One retirement tribute to Richard was: “His combination of heredity, experience and knowledge equipped him to be a successful leader of his company. He did not measure success in any narrow way. It had to include satisfying the customers with quality and service, being a good employer to those working with the firm, a good neighbour to those near the works and giving a reasonable return to those who invested their savings in it.” Alexander T. Montgomery succeeds Sir Richard and three of Sir Richard’s four sons, Peter, Timothy and Bill, continue the family’s association with the industry into a fourth generation.