«1995 1996 1997 »

Centenary year

The workforce at Shotton is in buoyant mood as preparations are made to celebrate the works’ centenary. The order book for the works’ unique range of coated products is full and output, quality and productivity are at an all-time high.

The highlight of a year-long programme was Centenary Day, Tuesday, 24th September, when the fourth generation descendants of John Summers, his great grandsons, Peter, Timothy, Bill and Mark, joined past and present works’ employees, British Steel executives, leading customers and suppliers at a celebration lunch at which the Chairman of British Steel, Sir Brian Moffat, was the main speaker. Among the 300 guests were the works’ oldest surviving employee, Rupert Cunningham, a former slab yard manager who, in his 102nd year and frail with failing eyesight, was brought from a local nursing home by his niece to fulfil a promise to attend what he described as “a wonderful day.” To mark his presence, he was presented with a commemorative bottle of his favourite tipple by the works’ youngest employee, 16-year-old trainee John Wainwright.

Sir Brian highlighted the remarkable growth in demand for galvanised and paint coated steel strip during the past 25 years. In the early 1970s, Colorcoat ® accounted for only 10 per cent. of the industrial building materials market; by the end of the 1980s, its share had risen to an “astounding” 75 per cent. The amount of metallic coated steel used in cars had increased from virtually zero in 1980 to over 70 per cent. in the latest models so that about a quarter of the company’s current output of coated strip was for the automotive sector. John Summers and British Steel had been pioneers in the field of coating technology with a number of “firsts” to their credit.

One of the bays ( 34 Bay) in the Coatings Three complex had been emptied of mill rolls and steel stock to create space for a large indoor tented area in which the centenary day lunch and several open day lunches were held. A section of the same bay also housed an impressive exhibition depicting the highlights in the works’ long history, current operations and product applications. The centrepiece was a revolving turntable on which stood a vintage Ford car and the same company’s Concept Speedster, unveiled at the Turin International Motor Show five months earlier as part of the Global Ford 2000 Programme. The concept car was valued at £1/2 million.

The year’s programme also included other open days for customers, suppliers and a cross section of employees chosen at random, community visits, gala evenings for over 1,000 employees and a family day-time gala at the works’ sports and social club, sponsorship of a Welsh National Opera evening at Llandudno to link with its 50th anniversary, a rally for 200 vintage European and American cars from the past ninety years in the General Office area and competitions for local primary and secondary school children.

The centenary was perpetuated on the country’s rail system by a class 60 locomotive belonging to the new English, Welsh and Scottish Railway Company being named “Shotton Works Centenary Year 1996”.

The year ended with a fireworks display at the club for employees and their families on 27th December.

As a memento of the anniversary, every employee received a copy of an illustrated book “A Century of Shotton Steel”. A video film of the 100 years including rare photographs of operations in 1910 and film footage of Royal visits during the Second World War and 1952 was shown at all events.

Galvanising developments

No.6 hot dip galvanising line in the Coatings Two complex is now capable of producing higher quality iron/zinc coated and smooth zinc coated strip for the automotive sector following a £10 million enhancement. The development enables British Steel to keep pace with increasing demand for corrosion resistant zinc coated steel for vehicle body parts. The Shotton scheme means that British Steel Strip Products can supply an additional 97,000 tonnes to the automotive sector annually. Metallic coated steel is currently used in over 75 per cent. of all major domestic appliances and 63 per cent. of the average car.