«1973 1974 1975 »

New coating lines to meet increasing demand

Since a Product Development Centre was established in 1969 at Shotwick, on the outskirts of Shotton Works, BSC’s Strip Mills Division’s coatings capacity has increased from 650K tonnes a year to nearly 1m. tonnes. Plans are announced to extend field development facilities with new process equipment, pilot lines and improved facilities for design and engineering services, and prototype construction. The new equipment will include an experimental multi-ply sheet laminating line, a pilot sheet coating line, an experimental surface finishing line and facilities for sheet stocking.

In March British Steel Corporation announces the development of a new coatings complex at Shotton at a cost of £42 million.

It will have coil-to-coil coating lines for hot dip galvanising, electro zinc plating and organic paint coating, adding approx. 400,000 tonnes to the works’ annual coatings capacity. It is scheduled for completion in 1977 and will create 475 new jobs.

The news offers some solace to a loyal workforce with a depth of experience in galvanising and other coatings probably unmatched in the world. In the words of a trade union leader, “It gives everyone new heart and belief in the future.”

Steel closures review

In June, a review of proposed steel closures is announced. It will be headed by Lord Beswick, Minister of State at the Department of Industry in the Labour Government elected in February. He visits Shotton in August by which time the works and community action committees committed to fighting the Shotton closure plans are very active. The closure issue and its likely impact on a wide area of North East Wales and Cheshire attracts interest from the national media with major public affairs programmes eg BBC’s Panorama and ITV’s This Week featuring the issue and leading industrial writers from the national newspapers such as The Financial Times visiting the works. Members of the steelworks’ action committee inspect tandem open hearth furnaces in Czechoslovakia and claim similar furnaces could be installed at Shotton for about £10 million. The profile of the closure issue within the community is raised by a Miss Steel competition and the sale of a recording of a protest song.

As part of its contribution to the “Plant a Tree” national campaign, 600 saplings were planted on reclaimed marshland across Shotton Works in 1973 with a further 300 to be planted this year.